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About Leominster

Leominster (pronounced “lemster”) (Welsh: Llanllieni), is a busy little market town in the north of Herefordshire, West Midlands, England. Leominster is located where the River Lugg and its tributary, the River Kenwater join, approximately 12 miles (19 km) north of the city of Hereford and 11 miles (18 km) south of Ludlow.

 Not to be confused with the Leominster in Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA

Leominster is an old wool town, well known for its Ryelands sheep and its beautiful medieval buildings that remain today. It has a typical old village feel about it, with its narrow cobbled streets and an abundance of black and white timber framed buildings. Dotted with bookshops and quaint cafes, Leominster will soothe the soul, as it is the exact opposite of the hub-bub metropolis that people endeavour to escape form.

Grange Court in the Priory Gardens, Leominster

Grange Court in the Priory Gardens, Leominster

If you’re strolling around Leominster, be sure to see the Grange Court in the Priory gardens, steeped with history and architectural delight, and the Leominster War Memorial in the gardens of St Peter and St Paul’s Priory Church standing proud in a sea of recently-cut green grass.  The memorial commemorates the dead of two world wars, is the work of the sculptor Mr William G Storr-Barber. There are several more of his works in Leominster churches.

There are many tourist attractions in and around Leominster, if you fancy an adrenalin filled day or a leisurely day wine and cider tasting, there’s sure to be something to keep you busy. If castles and grand stately home explorations is more your cup of tea, then just take your pick.

Leominster is known to have a maritime climate, with mild winters and summers.  The town has a bus station linking it to Hereford and a number of nearby towns and villages. The railway station has services to Manchester via Ludlow and to Cardiff via Hereford; links to London are achieved by changing at Hereford, for services via Worcester and Oxford, or at Newport, South Wales.

Lovely walks can be taken and the terrain is ideal for cycling

The schools in Leominster are satisfactory, there’s Earl Mortimer College providing secondary education for about 650 pupils in the centre of town. There are three primary schools; Leominster Infants School, Leominster Junior School and Westfields Special School.

Interestingly, Leominster in Herefordshire is twinned with Saverne in France and also Tengeru in Tanzania.

If it’s peace and quite you’re after, then you’ll certainly find it here!

The history of Leominster

The quaint, charming town of Leominster hums with an inner peace that is felt by tourists and townsfolk alike.  However, by contrast, it actually has a turbulent past.

Due to the fact that the town sits where the river Lugg and the river its tributary, the River Kenwater meet, thus making it a suitable site to settle in ancient times. Although it is only recorded from the 7th century that the town was born.

The name Leominster has many legend’s about how it came to be; one involved a miracle performed by Ealfrid with a lion feeding from his hand, Leo-minster, denoting a Christian community or church; or Leo from the Welsh lei meaning to flow, referring to the rivers.

In 658 (or 660, depending on the source) a nunnery was founded by King Merwald of Mercia. In 777 the nunnery and much of the town was devastated by British raiders. Later, in 980 the Danes sacked the place, thus ruining the nunnery. In 1052 Gruffudd ap Llywelyn raided over the border, to fight a  battle that was called by the Welsh name for Leominster – Llanllieni.

Leominster was so often raided due to the wealth it derived from its wool production. The fleece of these local Ryland sheep being dubbed Lemster ore (gold).

The town of Leominster was given by Henry I to Reading Abby, which founded a Benedictine priory there in 1121 or 1123. Sadly the Welsh invasions were not over ; in 1207 William de Braos of Brecknock  looted its treasures and burned the  priory, town and church. This happened again in 1402 when Owain Glyndwr and his army seized the town and stole everything of value.

In 1461 the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross took place nearby, one of the most significant in the Wars of the Roses: Owen Tudor was captured and taken to be executed; and thousands of Welshman on the losing Lancastrian side were put to the sword.

As we know the Tudors eventually prospered, bringing mixed fortunes to Leominster

In 1539 Henry VIII seized the priory and its revenues. When Edward VI died and Lady Jane Grey’s attempt to grab the throne causing the people of Leominster to attack the protestants behind the plot, killing some in a small battle and then executing those they captured.  In thanks, Mary then conferred a charter on the town, its first, granted on March 28 1553.

Catholic power died with Mary, however, and the Protestant cause succeeded: in 1610 a Catholic Priest, Roger Cadwallader, was tried and then hung drawn and quartered. In 1684 local MP John Dutton, a staunch anti-Catholic, was tried for treason against James II , and fined £10,000, a vast fortune.

During the Civil War (in 1643) William Waller seized Leominster for Parliament; though it fell back into Royalist hands in 1645. After this the town’s history is relatively peaceful, though in 1695 a fire destroyed the priory roof.

Historic Postcard of Broad Street in Leominster, Herefordshire, England

Historic Postcard of Broad Street in Leominster, Herefordshire, England