View of Bromyard from Bromyard Downs
Bromyard shown within Herefordshire
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Bromyard and Winslow|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Hereford and Worcester|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
|UK Parliament||North Herefordshire|
Bromyard is a market town in Herefordshire, England, situated in the valley of the River Frome. The latest census gives a population in 2011 of approximately 4,500. It lies near to the county border with Worcestershire on the A44 between Leominster and Worcester. Bromyard has a number of traditional half-timbered buildings, including some of the pubs, and the parish church dates back to Norman times. The town is twinned with Athis-de-l'Orne, Normandy.
Bromyard is mentioned in Bishop Cuthwulf's charter of c.840. It was an Anglo-Saxon foundation known in Old English as Bromgeard ("enclosure where broom or gorse grew" (or perhaps "fenced in by gorse") and in Domesday Book as Bromgerde. 42 villani (villeins, villagers), 9 bordars (smallholders), and 8 slaves were recorded in the Domesday entry, one of the largest communities in Herefordshire.
Like Leominster, Ledbury, and Ross-on-Wye, the fair at the manor of Bromyard was probably founded in c1125 during the episcopate of Richard de Capella (1121-1127). As with those other three towns, the bishops of Hereford had had a manor and minster there since Anglo-Saxon times; but only alike to Ledbury was the church established by portionists. Surveys for the bishop made in 1288 and 1587-8 give valuable information about the town's first few centuries. Bromyard contained 255 burgage and landowner tenancies in 1288 worth £23 10 s 7 1/2 d. The medieval ownership of the town passed through several notable families: Richard, son of Robert de Brockhampton was the first holder of the advowson of the chapelry in 1283. The main effect of the Black Death and end of serfdom was for the church to abandon the bishop's palace in the town, reaffirming the independency of the town's trading burgesses. At the height of the town's influence, Dr Richard Pede DCL was a portionist at Bromyard. Becoming embroiled in national politics he joined the Yorkist rising at Hereford, being later appointed Vicar-general to the royal council at Ludlow Castle.
Ownership passed thence to Thomas Solers, to Sir Thomas le Moigne, to the Rowdons of Burley Gate, the Habingtons, and by the Mid-Tudor era the Barnebys of Acton, County Wigorn (now modern Birmingham). The Barnebys remained one of the most influential families for the next 400 years in the district's development as a wool market, and significant centre of the wool trade for the Midlands. Richard Habington had acquired the lease of the manor of Bromyard in 1444. Thomas Barneby was slain at Towton in 1461, and the family, firm Royalists were compounded by parliament after the Civil wars. One of the Barnebys, Edmund changed his name to Higginson to acquire Saltmarshe Castle, long associated with the Coningsbys of Hampton Court. The two families were closely inter-related by marriage. In 1872 the castle came down to Barneby-Lutley, another branch of the same medieval family.
After the Reformation (1545) there were 800 communicants making Bromyard the "a markett toune...greately Replenyshed with People", the third town in the county with a population of about 1200 souls. Many Chancery suits appeared representing land in the area. The Manor of Horton in the town concerned ownership of church property of the dissolved abbey of Little Malvern. Another famous case involved the Rowdons, proprietors of Burley Gate, and inheritance of land in Bromyard. The Blounts of Grendon Bishop & Eye were important landlords at Wacton Court. Besides the central town area, the large parish used to consist of the three townships of Winslow, Linton, and Norton; these areas are still known as such. To the east was Hardwick Hall of Winslow township, now considered part of the modern town of Bromyard. They were personified in the Baskervilles of Kyre (later modelled by Conan Doyle for his novel.)
Many of the townsfolks were killed during the civil wars, as they were presbyterian wool traders, raised in parliamentarian Sir Hardress Waller's brigade putting them in direct conflict with the Royalist gentry. The town was rent asunder by religious division, when the king stayed with Tomkyns family on 3 September 1645 at the palace there. John Tomkyns MD was elevated as Organist of St Paul's after the Restoration rewarding his royalism.
In 1656 the local vicar John Perrin founded the Bromyard Grammar School (which has since disappeared), rescued by the Goldsmiths Company; and he was appointed an Alderman of the City of London. The antiquarian Silas Taylor was among those responsible for looting the muniments, and destroying the documents, but he did record the decline of monuments in the parish church. While other towns had prospered after the Restoration, Bromyard was not as fortunate, becoming a backwater, falling behind Ledbury and Ross.
a commercial centre
It was for many years a market town and centre for agriculture: she was still a fair for selling produce grown locally; hops, apples and pears, and soft fruit remained so vital late into the post-war era. Some farms remained in the church's hands until the late 20th century.
The industrial revolution came very late to Bromyard, it by-passed the Birmingham railway. A sandstone quarry was opened at Linton, just east of the town, in the 1870s, but the hopes for extensive sales of good quality building stone were disappointed and by 1879 it was producing bricks and tiles from the Old Red Sandstone marls. This business continued until the 1970s. The town belatedly acquired a piped water supply in 1900, which had long been postponed.
During World War I, Bromyard was the site of an internment camp, where the Irish nationalist Terence MacSwiney, future Lord Mayor of Cork and hunger striker, was both interned and married. In World War II, between autumn 1940 and 1945, Westminster School was temporarily relocated to a variety of buildings on the outskirts of the town, principally Buckenhill, and including for various purposes Brockhampton, Clater Park, Whitbourne Rectory, Fernie, and Saltmarshe Castle.
The Bromyard & District Local History Society was founded in 1966 and is extremely active, with a centre open three days a week which contains a large archive and library and an exhibition room.
The Conquest Theatre offers a programme of plays, variety, musicals, operettas, ballet, pantomime and concerts, in a purpose-built centre constructed in 1991.
At Christmas time, volunteers (also known as the Bromyard Light Brigade) organize an extensive display of Christmas lights which are put up in October and switched on the last Saturday of November, running for the five weeks up to Christmas until after the New Year. The group established links with Blackpool Illuminations over 2010, and Blackpool's director Richard Ryan performed the switching-on ceremony in the same year and the volunteers were awarded The Queen's Award for Voluntary Services also in the same year.
Bromyard is the home of Nozstock Festival of Performing Arts which attracts nearly 3,000 visitors at the end of July every year. This three-day event showcases 30 bands from around the country across three stages, alongside two dance arenas, a cinema, a theatre and comedy stage, circus, and a vintage tractor arena.
The Bromyard Gala, an annual weekend festival of country sports, vintage vehicles and displays of various kinds, is held in the vicinity in July.
Bromyard.info is the community website for Bromyard and District. Run as a Community Interest Company by volunteers, it is an 'online daily news site', has a full events calendar, features places of interest, accommodation, pubs, restaurants and shopping directory, together with a full local directory.
Bromyard is served by a monthly community magazine called Off the Record. It is published on the first Friday of each month and contains 60 pages of news from community groups .
The Worcester, Bromyard and Leominster Railway, now dismantled, was first proposed in 1845, and an Act of Parliament to build it obtained in 1861. Estimated to cost £20,000, that number of £10 shares were issued. When sold to the Great Western Railway in 1887, the shares were only worth ten shillings. The line had only arrived from Worcester in 1877, and only was connected through to Leominster in 1897. It was a common destination for 'hop-pickers' specials' from the Black Country. There were five trains a day in each direction. The line to Leominster was closed in 1952, the last train ran in 1958, and the railway was closed due troubled financial stability and was a victim of the Beeching cuts in 1963-4. For a short time subsequently the section between Bromyard and Linton was run as a private light railway — the Bromyard and Linton Light Railway — which still exists, albeit now disused.
Bromyard is a starting place of the A465 road which runs to the M4 in South Wales.
St Peter's Church is a large building with parts dating back to Norman times, including an effigy of St. Peter, with two keys, over the main (reset) Norman south doorway. Most of the exterior is early 14th century. An Anglo-Saxon minster church existed before the present St Peter's Church. No physical remains survive, but the minster and manor are mentioned in a document of 840 AD.
The town centre is bypassed by the main road, A44 that stretches from Aberystwyth in Wales to Oxford. Bromyard is notable for its many old and historically interesting buildings that are a designated blue-plate building, especially in High Street, Broad Street, Market Square, Sherford Street and Rowberry Street, including a number of half-timbered pubs and dwelling houses.
The parish of Winslow was devolved like Brockhampton, Linton and Norton from the original township. To the west stands two outstanding Georgian properties. The Green was built in 1770 for Thomas Colley. Obvious bay windows and fronted by orate pedimented doric collumns at the entrance. Venetian windows hint at the Georgia Grand Tour and the stylistic architecture typical of the county. It also contains a remarkable baluster staircase. In horse country it was usual to have stone stables.
Medieval Munderfield was settled by a lesser Norman gentry family D'Abitot. Mundersfield Harold is an even earlier Augustan era mansion made of brick on an H-Plan with typical bays and hipped roofs. There is a Venetian staircase, plaster mouldings, and a glazed porch. In the Victorian period a south wing with a terracotta balustrade was added. The estate had extensive farm buildings to the north-west were laid out, and then was followed by a large landscaped park. The house acquired a lodge in the 1880's facing a main road.
Although Wacton Court no longer exists, its Wicton Farm was part of the same estate. A hall founded in the Tudor period with bays and studding, diagonal cross-bracing. A new wing was added on the north-west side in the Jacobean era. Gabled windows are distinguished by the lozenges with elaborate carved mouldings on diagonal wooden dragon-beams in the roof with supporting columns. There was a hop farm at Wicton with three large kilns.
The house was named after the ancient Rowdon family of Burley Gate who later married into the family of Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of India. Rowden House was built in 1883 for a son of Lord St John out of stone after the Queen Anne-style, with a hipped roof and noteworthy pedimented dormer window. The brick chimneys, medallion cornices, and keystoned arches are from an earlier era. Like other Grade 1 listed buildings in the district it is busied by ornate carving, lozenges, carved roof-beams. The estate was owned by the industrialist John Arkwright who was responsible for the with unusually decorated farm cottages built in 1867.
The original medieval moated abbey beside the River Frome was demolished in about 1790. The present Rowden Abbey was built in 1881 for landowner Henry J Bailey. Similar to the above houses in style and decoration, it also exhibited fine gabled porch entrances. The interior had pannelling and ribbed ceilings, with delightful bay windows in the reception rooms. The stone mill is probably Jacobean.
The medieval Manor of Norton was constrained by extensive parkland and hunting-grounds.
Lower Brockhampton, a moated farmhouse on an extensive National Trust property, lies a short distance to the east, beyond Bromyard Downs. This is an area of common land lying to the northeast which offers many walks, with extensive views over the town, the Malvern Hills, the Clee Hills, and the Welsh borders, with the Black Mountains and other hills beyond. An attempt by local landowners in 1866 to enclose the Downs was strongly opposed by townsfolk and failed, not least because it was an area of recreation including rifle butts and an annual race meeting.
- "The Population of Herefordshire 2009" (PDF). Herefordshire Council. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- HD and CM 4067; Hillaby & Pearson, Bromyard: A Local History, pl 1; Williams, Bromyard: minster, pl 1
- E. Ekwall, Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names
- Joe Hillaby, A Medieval Borough, (1997), pp.12-13
- Bromyard – Minster, Manor and Town, Phyllis Williams, Bromyard & District Local History Society
- A transcript of "The red book", a detailed account of the Hereford bishopric estates in the thirteenth century edited by A.T. Bannister, 1929; Swithun Butterfield's survey of the same in 1587-8 in Herefordshire archives
- Bannister, n137, p.156-7; Capes, n1, p.226-9; Hillaby (2003), p.98; Hillaby (1997), p.74
- Hillaby (2003), p.119
- Nashe, Worcestershire, vol.1, p.584; Robinson, p.52
- chantry certificates, Hillaby, Ledbury, p.85
- P. Williams, Bromyard: Minster, Manor and Town, (1987)
- Chancery proceedings, P.R.O; Robinson, p.55
- Robinson, p.52-57
- brooks and Pevsner, pp.142-3
- Hearth Tax Returns 1664; Hillaby, Ledbury, p.90
- A Pocket Full of Hops, 1988, revised edition 2007, Bromyard & District Local History Society
- Hillaby, Medieval Borough, p.32
- Herefordshire through time, http://htt.herefordshire.gov.uk/smrSearch/Monuments/Monument_Item.aspx?ID=30573
- Hillaby, Ledbury, p.127
- Journal of Bromyard and District LHS, no. 19, 1996/7
- Journal of Bromyard & District LHS, no. 8, 1985
- "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- Conquest Theatre Retrieved 16 December 2009
- Nozstock website
- Bromyard Folk Festival Retrieved 16 December 2009
- Phyllis Williams, Bromyard, Minster, Manor, and Town
- Anthony J. Lambert, West Midland Branch Line Album, 1978; Keith M. Beck, The West Midland Lines of the G.W.R., 1983
- Nicholas Pevsner, Herefordshire, Buildings of England, 1963
- Bromyard: Minster, Manor and Town, Phyllis Williams 1987;The Buildings of England, Herefordshire, Alan Brooks and Nicholas Pevsner, Yale, 2012
- Robinson, p.57
- Berrow’s Worcester Journal, May 26 and October 6, 1866
- Primary Sources
- HD and CM Hereford Dean and Chapter Muniments 4067
- Secondary Sources
- Bannister, A.T. (1923). "A Descriptive catalogue of Manuscripts of St Katherine's, Ledbury". Transactions of Woolhope Naturalists Field Club.
- Brooks, Alan; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2012). The Buildings of Hereford: Herefordshire. New Haven and London.
- Eisel, J.; Shoesmith, R. (2003). Pubs of Bromyard, Ledbury and East Herefordshire.
- Hillaby, Joe; Pearson, E. (1970). Bromyard: A Local History.
- Hillaby, Joe (2003). St Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury. Ledbury.
- Hillaby, Joe (1997). Ledbury: A Medieval Borough.
- Robinson, Rev.Charles J. (2001) . A History of the Mansions & Manors of Herefordshire. Hereford and London.
- Frank Thorn; Caroline Thorn, eds. (1983). Domesday Book: Herefordshire. Chichester.
- Williams, P. (1987). Bromyard: Minster, Manor and Town.
- Bromyard & District Local History Society (2007) . A Pocket Full of Hops. Bromyard.
Media related to Bromyard at Wikimedia Commons