looking north towards the crest of Bromyard Downs
|Location||north of the town|
|Operated by||Herefordshire Council|
Bromyard Downs is an area of registered common land just outside Bromyard in Herefordshire comprising 114 hectares. It rises to over 700 ft in a wide twisting range of plateau that dominates the escarpment overlooking the town. The down is a combination of gorse and grassland, wood and coppice. It was by tradition an area that boasted wildlife extinct in most parts of England; the Adder and rare wild plants. There are currently (2018) 88 registered commoners some of whom have livestock grazing rights under Commons Act 2006. Rights under the act include pasturage, estover and turbary.
It originated in the ancient past from a parcel of manorial waste ground that belonged to the feudal manor of Bromyard. The common has changed hands many times. The medieval period was one of prosperity for the tanners and clothiers of Bromyard, in a part of England where there were more sheep than people. The livestock used to graze on the downs, where existing common rights could share the grass. During the agricultural revolution its ownership was shared by various aristocratic owners, including from nearby Buckenhill Manor, and Brockhampton Court. The most notable feature on the common is the outline of an old disused horse racecourse that was opened by soldiers and tenant farmers returning the Napoleonic Wars.
During World War One Bromyard housed an internment camp, many of whom were Sinn Fein-IRA. The second war witnessed the preparative measures for any possible German invasion, allowing the Mercian Marquis to construct underground bunkers in the dense forest.
The downs play host to a clutch of voluntary and community groups. There is a caravan club which occupies a field on the downs. The last remaining pub on the downs, The Royal Oak is a 'black and white' half-timbered house dating back at least 300 years.
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