Bromyard’s Interesting Street Introduction

Bromyard is not Anytown, U.K.; although perhaps nowhere is.  After living here for six years, and visiting it for a dozen years before, I have my own list of Bromyard’s excellences.  In no particular order there are the bells of the parish church, recently added to and frequently rung, to the delight of those like me who live within earshot.  Then there are the remarkable Christmas lights, surely the best south of Blackpool, serviced by a platoon of dedicated enthusiasts and helped along by collections of small coins throughout the year.  Next, the most remarkable and imaginative number of festivals.  Then the Bromyard Downs, and Stockings Meadow, with their remarkable flora of meadow plants.  Last, and without which this collection of facts could not have been made, the Local History Society.  When we were planning to move to Bromyard my daughter said that the first thing I must do was to join the Society.  How right she was!  Not just the best club in town on a Thursday, a Friday or a Saturday morning, but outstanding among all such societies across the kingdom for the collection of archives, the facilities for research, and the range of publications to which this is a humble addition.

Of course the town has its own particular history, not quite like that of any other.  An Anglo-Saxon monasterium, not a monastery but a minster, a mission station for north east Herefordshire before there was such a county; then established as a town by Bishop Richard de Capella of Hereford in the 1120s, along with Leominster and Ledbury, at a time when all over Europe this was the surest way to economic development.  Burgage plots, long and narrow, many surviving to this day, a market, free citizens, what was not to admire in this pattern.  Apart from the bishop, no overbearing lord, no castle, no abbey.

The crises of the Black Death in the 14th, the Reformation in the 16th and the Civil War in the 17th centuries seem to have left Bromyard fairly untouched, but something of a backwater; Leominster and Ledbury grew faster and were earlier served by a railway in the 19th century.  And when the railway came it linked Bromyard not with Hereford, the county town, but with Worcester, and eventually with Leominster; people began to date their letters from “Bromyard, Worcester”.  Would things have been different if it had found itself on the direct line from Worcester to Hereford?  It seems from the road numbering of the early 20th century that Bromyard was regarded as being on the direct road between these two county and cathedral towns, as well as what it had always been, on the direct road from London and Oxford to the Welsh coast at Aberystwyth.  Industry came slowly and fitfully, though in a distinguished manner with the first Morgan motor car, and is now in a familiar early 21st century pattern of having a number of estates of light industry.

These essays on the streets began when my daughter and son-in-law asked for something to publicise the unfortunate state of the former magistrates’ court, later library, opposite their house in Church Street.  Someone at the History Society suggested an article on the road in “Off the Record”, the town’s monthly magazine.  It seemed popular enough to make a series, and this is what these essays originally were.

Thanks to all who helped with them, especially the Publications Committee of the BDLHS who provided the photographs and have overseen the process of turning my text into a professional looking book; also of course to Phyllis Williams and the other pioneers of a professional approach to Bromyard’s history.

Other thanks are due to Denis Teal on Frog Lane, Charles Hopkinson on Linton Lane, Peter Gilbert and David Tinton on Rowberry Street, and the late Keith Handley on Firs Lane.

CHARLES GORDON CLARK, 2018.

CONTENTS

  1. CHURCH STREET   5
  2. SHERFORD STREET 11
  3. ROWBERRY STREET 15
  4. MARKET SQUARE 21
  5. BROAD STREET 26
  6. FROG LANE 33
  7. PUMP STREET AND TOWER HILL 37
  8. HIGH STREET 40
  9. NEW ROAD 48
  10. CRUXWELL STREET 53
  11. CHURCH LANE 61
  12. OLD ROAD 65
  13. TENBURY ROAD 69
  14. FIRS LANE 75
  15. LINTON LANE 78

Further Reading      85