"LEDBURY, a parish, market town, and nominal borough, in the hundred of Radlow, county Hereford, 14 miles E. by S. of Hereford, and 120 W.N.W. of London by road. It is a station on the West Midland railway. This place, which is situated in the eastern part of the county, at the southern extremity of the Malvern hills, derives its name from the river Leadon, or Leddon, which intersects the parish, which is of large extent, containing above 8,000 acres. It comprises the townships of Parkhold and Wellington Heath, as well as the extinct borough of Ledbury, which, in the reign of Edward I., returned members to parliament.
The parish is further divided into five parts, distinguished as the Borough, Leadon and Haffield, Mitchell and Netherton, Wall Hills, and Wellington Heath; these four last divisions constitute the foreign of the manor for which the courts leet and baron are held. The manor was given by Edwin the Saxon to the bishops of Hereford, who had a palace here, and in the reign of Stephen, Bishop Bohun obtained a grant for holding fairs and a weekly market. The charter having become obsolete, was renewed by Queen Elizabeth in 1584, at which time Ledbury was celebrated for its silk and broadcloth manufactures, but these are now extinct.
It is a polling-place for the county elections, a petty sessions town, and nominal borough, the constables being elected annually at the courts leet and baron, held by the Earl Somers and others. The town stands on a declivity near the foot of Dog Hill, and on the main road from Hereford to Tewkesbury. It is intersected by the Gloucester and Hereford canal, and consists mainly of two streets running N. and S., crossed by several smaller streets. Many of the houses are very ancient, built of brick and timber, with projecting stories, but those which are of recent erection are constructed of red brick.
It contains a timbered market-house, with projecting front, and built upon sixteen oaken pillars; two banks; savings-bank; a literary institution; St. Catherine's Hospital, founded in the thirteenth century by Bishop Foliot, and rebuilt in 1822 from designs by Smirke; the union workhouse, a new building, capable of containing 150 persons; police station, with magistrate's rooms attached, in New Street; a dispensary, founded in 1824. The county Court is held at the magistrates' office, and the excise office at the Feathers Hotel. The streets are lighted with gas and partially paved.
In 1851 the town contained a population of 3,027, which had increased in 1861 to 3,263. The trade is chiefly connected with agriculture, consisting of malting, tanning, perry and cider making, and hop growing, which last is considerably on the increase. Some few persons are engaged in the manufacture of ropes, lines, sacking, and gloves, but these sources of industry have recently much declined. There were formerly extensive limestone and grey marble quarries at Dog Hill, and in the vicinity extensive cider orchards.
The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Hereford, value £651, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, or, according to others, to St. Peter, is a commodious edifice, built in the Norman, early English, and perpendicular styles of architecture, almost covered with ivy. It was made collegiate in 1401 by Bishop Trevenant, and has a detached bell tower, surmounted by a spire 60 feet high, which has been twice struck by lightning, but not injured. The tower contains a peal of eight bells, and a clock which chimes the 149th Psalm.
Adjoining the N. side of the church is St. Catherine's chapel, in the decorated style, so named after Catherine Audley, the hermit. The interior of the church contains the remnant of a carved screen, stalls, several brasses, an altar-piece after Reubens, four stained-glass windows, and numerous monuments, including effigies of a lady and E. Skynner, monuments of the Biddulphs, and one to Anne Elter, who had seventeen children.
There is also a district church at Wellington Heath, the living of which is a perpetual curacy*, value £100. The new church has a belfry and one bell. The Independents, Baptists, and Wesleyans have each a place of worship. There are two endowed schools: Hall's school, with an endowment of £30, and King Edward VI.'s grammar school, which has an income from endowment of £3 11s. 3d., with school-house attached, situated in Church Lane. The schoolhouse, with its income, has been transferred by an order of the Charity Commissioners to the education of an equal number of boys and girls at the National schools. There are besides National and infant schools.
The charities produce about £1,797 per annum, including the school endowments, and £1,687, the magnificent endowment of St. Catherine's Hospital, mentioned above, which provides for 24 poor persons, nominated by the senior canon of Hereford, who is obliged to reside in a house adjoining the hospital for three months in the year. Service is performed in the chapel three times a week.
The principal residences in the vicinity are Eastnor Castle, the seat of Earl Somers, Newhouse Castle, and Upper Hall. At Wall Hill, Haffield, and Vineyard, are traces of ancient camps. Ledbury is the head of a Poor-law Union embracing twenty-one parishes in Herefordshire and one in Worcestershire. It is also the seat of superintendent registry and new County Court districts. Tuesday is market day. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in February, the Tuesday before Easter, the 12th May, 22nd June, 2nd October, and the last Tuesday but one in December."
"PARKHOLD, a township in the parish of Ledbury, hundred of Radlow, county Hereford, near Ledbury."
"WELLINGTON HEATH, a township and ecclesiastical district in the parish of Ledbury, hundred of Radlow, county Hereford, 2 miles from Ledbury, and 15 S.E. of Here ford. It is situated in the vale of the Leadon, or Leddon, at the southern foot of the Malvern Hills, and near the Gloucester and Hereford canal. The township forms part of the Foreign of the manor of Ledbury, for which courts leet and baron are held. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Hereford, value £100, in the patronage of the bishop."