Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for LEOMINSTERpopularly LEMSTER-a town

LEOMINSTERpopularly LEMSTER-a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district in Herefordshire. The town stands in a fertile valley, on the river Lug, at the influx of two of its tributaries, and at the commencement of the Leominster canal, adjacent to the Shrewsbury and Hereford railway, at the junction of the Leominster and Kington railway, 13 miles N of Hereford. Its name is supposed to be a compound of either Leof, signifying ''beloved, ''or Leo, signifying ''lion, ''and Minster, signifying ' ' a large or monastic church; ''and was written at Domesday, Leofminstre. The prefix Leof appears to have been the true one, and was used by the Saxons; while the prefix Leo seems to have been a corruption, introduced by writers of the middle ages. A monastery, with large church or minster, was founded at the town, and a castle or palace ½ a mile to the E, about the year 658, by Merewald, King of West Mercia. The monastery, together with almost all the houses which had been built around or near it, was destroyed in 777, by the Danes, assisted by the Welsh. The monastery was afterwards rebuilt as a college or priory; became a cell to Shaston and Reading abbeys; was notable for the preaching of the crusade in it, in 1187, by Baldwin and Giraldus; was further notable for two of its monks, William and John of Leominster, who were natives of the town, and made some figure in history; was given, with the manor, by James I., to Villiers; subsequently und.rwent many changes; and was eventually, in 1836, incorporated with the workhouse. The castle, in consequence of its vicinity to the Welsh marches, had much military importance; was taken by the Danes in 777, at the time when they destroyed the monastery; was taken again, in 1055, by the Welsh, and refortified; was retaken by Harold, and made the place of a garrison; and was refortified by William Rufus; but seems to have, soon afterwards, become useless. The town was held, in the time of Edward the Confessor, by Queen Editha; was burnt, in the time of John, by William de Braose; was held by Owen Glendower, after his victory over the Earl of March, whom he made a prisoner in a house in Church-street, now or lately a stable; submitted to Prince Henry, afterwards Henry V., on his defeat of Glendower, in 1404, at Ivington camp; took an active part in the cause of Mary, against the partisans of Lady Jane Grey, and defeated them, in 1553, at Cursneh hill; and was taken, in 1643, by Waller, and re-taken, in 1645, by Charles I. Price, the local historian, was a native of the town; and Earl Pomfret takes from it the title of Baron Lempster.

The town comprises one long principal street, running nearly N and S, and four or five others, going off at right angles; and it has gradually, for about a hundred years, been so improved that the streets, for the most part, aro spacions and even handsome. A few of the houses are ancient, built of timber, ornamented with grotesque carvings, plastered and painted white and black; but most are modern, built of brick, and contrasting strongly with the old ones. A stone bridge, and a light iron one, span the Ken water. The town hall was built in 1856, at a cost of £3,000; is in the Italian style, 156 feet long and 48 feet wide; has, over the centre, a lofty cupola and clock-turret; and contains a council-chamber, 45 feet long and 30 feet wide. The new market-house adjoins the town hall; is 125 feet long, 40 feet wide, and upwards of 22 feet high; and has a corrugated galvanised iron roof, supported on two rows of iron pillars. The butter-cross stood on the site of the new market-house; was built in 1633, by John Abel, ' ' the king's carpenter; ''was a curious and beautiful example of Tudor timber-work, with 12 carved oak pillars, arches, shields, and varions carved devices; was taken down in 1855, to give effect to the town hall, and to afford space for the new market-house; and has been re-erected on a large open space, called the Grange. The county police station is a recent erection, on the site of the old theatre. The parish church, or church of St. Peter and St. Paul, is a spacions irregularly-constructed edifice; includes a Norman portion, supposed to have been originally a part of the ancient ' ' minster; ''was partly burnt in 1700, when ancient wood-work, stalls, and monuments were destroyed; comprises windows and walls of early and decorated English dates, an elegant W entrance doorway, a richly decorated porch, and a modern S side; has a massive pinnacled NW tower, with set of chimes; and contains an altar-piece of the ' ' Last Supper ''after Rubens, an exquisitely worked modern font, an elegant marble monument to Admiral Brace, and numerous other monuments. The churchyard contains some interesting ancient monuments, and one to Mrs. Siddons and Mr. Kemble. The chapel of Le Forbury is an ancient structure in the pointed style; has a good E window; was used, for a long time, as a place of worship; was afterwards converted into a national school; and is now a place of businessThe mission chapel, in Etnam-street, was opened in 1855. There are chapels for Baptists, Quakers, Moravians, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Plymouth Brethren, and Unitarians. There are also a grammar school, with £20 a year from endowment; national schools, re cently erected, at a cost of nearly £3,000; British and Foreign schools; a Quakers' girls' school; alms houses, for aged widows, with £25 a year; and other charities, with £108.

The town has a head post office,‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a county polling-place; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Friday; chief markets, on the first Friday of every month; a great market, on the Friday before 11 Dec.; and fairs, on 13 Feb., the Tuesday after Mid-Lent, 2 May, 29 June, 10 July, 4 Sept., 17 Oct., 8 Nov., and the Friday after 11 Dec. A good trade is carried on in corn, hops, cider, timber, wool, cattle, and sheep; some industry is carried on in malting, woolstapling, tanning, coarse-cloth-making, and leatherglove-making; and there are, in the neighbourhood, a printing-ink manufactory, an oil mill, corn mills, and brickfields. The town was incorporated by Queen Mary; has sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I.; had its borough boundaries extended by the reform bill, to include all the parish; and is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. Corporation income in 1855, £764. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £1,187. Electors in 1833,779; in 1863,360. Real property, in 1860, £12,775; of which £90 were in gas-works. Pop. in 1851,5,214; in 1861,5,658. Houses, 1,157.

The parish is divided into in parish, conterminate with the old borough, and forming the town-proper; and outparish, containing the townships of Broadward and Brierly,-Eaton, Hennor, and Stretford,-Ivington, HideAsh, and Wintercott,-Newtown, Stagbatch, and Cholstrey,-and Wharton,-and including the chapelry of Ivington, formed out of these townships. Acres of the in parish, 1,150. Pop. in 1851,4,199; in 1861,4,630. Houses, 949. Acres of the out-parish, 8,140. Pop., the same as of the borough. Pop. of the lvington chapelry portion, in 1851,792; in 1861,750. Houses, 155. The manor went from the Villierses to Martin the regicide, and others; passed to the Coningsbys; and belongs now to J. Arkwright, Esq. of Hampton Court. A race-course of about a mile, on flat ground, was near the town; and races were held on it in August; but it was intersected by the Shrewsbury and Hereford railway, and the races were discontinued. Cursneh, Eaton, and Croft-Ambrey hills command fine views. Ancient camps are at Cursneh hill and Ivington. The parochial living is a vicarage, and the living of Ivington is a p. curacy, in the diocese of Hereford. Value of the former, £230;* of the latter, £100. Patron of the former, the Lord Chancellor; of the latter, the Vicar of Leominster.

The sub-district contains the in parish of Leominster, the parishes of Hatfield, Puddlestone, Laysters, Kimbolton, and Middleton-on-the-Hill, and the extra-parochial tract of New Hampton. Acres, 13,844. Pop., 6,618. Houses, 1,340.—The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Bodenham, containing the out-parish of Leominster, the parishes of Bodenham, Hope-under-Dinmore, Monkland, Docklow, Humber, Stoke-Prior, and Ford, the Croft township of Newton, and the extra-parochial tract of Hampton-Wafer; and the sub-district of Kingsland, containing the parishes of Kingsland, Eyton, Eye, Yarpole, Lucton, Orleton, Shobdon, and Aymestrey, and the township of Croft. Acres, 65,620. Poor rates in 1863, £9,246. Pop. in 1851,14,910; in 1861,15,494. Houses, 3,231. Marriages in 1863,90; births, 442,- of which 37 were illegitimate; deaths, 309,-of which 89 were at ages under 5 years, and 12 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,1,005; births, 4,583; deaths, 3,157. The places of worship, in 1851, were 22 of the Church of England, with 5,578 sittings; 1 of Baptists, with 350 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 200 s.; 1 of MoraVians, with 250 s.; 8 of Wesleyans, with 61 4 s.; 13 of Primitive Methodists, with 785 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 150 s.; and 1 undefined, with 200 s. The schools were 18 public day schools, with 1,171 scholars; 20 private day schools, with 384 s.; and 18 Sunday schools, with 1,043 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 3rd order divisions")
Administrative units: Leominster AP/CP       Leominster PLU/RegD       Herefordshire AncC
Place: Leominster

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