Things to see in Leominster
PUBLISHED: 14:36 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:53 20 February 2013
As we emerge from our winter hibernations and venture out from that chair in front of the wood-burner we find that Leominster is gearing up for the season ahead with much that will inform, entertain and educate
Nine nice things to do in Leominster
As we emerge from our winter hibernations and venture out from that chair in front of the wood-burner we find that Leominster is gearing up for the season ahead with much that will inform, entertain and educate. Here is a taste of what will be on offer during 2011, says Chris Poole
Church of St Peter and St Paul
One of Leominsters outstanding features is the fine priory church of St Peter and St Paul. This place was one of the earliest Christian sites in the county; there was a religious foundation here which might pre-date Hereford Cathedral.
The priory church has a very special Nicholson organ (now in need of repair and for which an appeal has been launched). With components dating from the 19th century, this organ is recognised as having special significance. Close by and, some say, rather inappropriate for a place of worship, is the Leominster ducking stool. Last used in 1809 to punish Jenny Pipes for her misdemeanours, it now rests as a memorial to our less enlightened period in meting out justice.
This year, the castle at Hampton Court a few miles to the south of Leominster is 600 years old. To mark this special anniversary Hampton Court will have a medieval theme throughout 2011.
The castle and gardens re-open on April 2. Tours of the house take in the public rooms such as the library and the chapel. As the year progresses there will be medieval re-enactments, banquets, festivals and fairs. And for those who would like to see something of Hampton Court in advance, the episode of The Antiques Roadshow made here last year will be screened on BBC1 on March 13.
Our fascination with stately homes and the life-styles that went with them seems boundless. The popularity of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs on our television screens bears witness to this. At Berrington Hall, visitors can taste something of both the upstairs and the downstairs. This late 18th century house, designed by Henry Holland, looks rather severe from the outside but, inside, it reveals much about those who lived and worked there. The below stairs areas are open to the public and so is the network of passages that enabled staff to move around the house unseen and unheard by the family who lived there. The National Trust cares for Berrington.
Another glimpse of local life as it was, can be found at the Folk Museum in Etnam Street in Leominster. Here, visitors will find a fascinating collection of artefacts illustrating life in rural Herefordshire. The importance of food and drink to our way of life is evident, with the reconstruction of a complete cider mill bequeathed to the museum. The Leominster Folk Museum opens at Easter and is then open every day except Sunday until October.
If markets appeal to you then try to be in Leominster on the second Saturday of each month. There are markets every Friday in the towns Corn Square but on those special Saturdays, a farmers market fills the space, highlighting the value of local produce.
One thing hard to avoid doing in Leominster is shopping for antiques. There is an unusually wide range of specialist and general outlets. Broad Street is a good place to start. There you will find, for example, Tea Gowns and Textiles specialising in antique fabrics and clothing. Close by is Minster House Antiques embracing the spectrum of antiques which you might expect of a leading dealer. And just across the road, the Barometer Shop offers all manner of instruments old and new.
One traditional way of acquiring antiques is to try the excitement and the cut and thrust of the auction room. Here, Leominster excels. Just at the edge of the town, with easy access by road and massive car parking space, there is Brightwells. Long established as the regions largest and busiest of salerooms Brightwells has auctions to suit most tastes. Fine art, antiques, classic vehicles, equine, wines.
Black and White houses
This part of Herefordshire is renowned for its villages showing traditional, picturesque black and white houses. There is a trail which takes visitors through many of the villages and although you can pick up the trail at any point on it, Leominster is acknowledged as the starting and finishing point. Details available from the countys tourist information offices and there are brown signs to guide visitors around the 40-mile trail and back to Leominster.
There is yet another dimension to the countys insatiable quest for fine produce at Broadfield Court. Alexandra and Mark James have been growing vines at Broadfield for many years, building on the endeavours of Marks father who first planted vines here in 1968. Now there is an award-winning caf serving refreshments and lunches created from locally-sourced produce, much of it grown in their own gardens, and accompanied by Broadfield wines. Visitors can tour the gardens and vineyards. Broadfield Court is just off the A417 at Bodenham, about five miles to the south of Leominster.
Leominster is at the crossroads of the A44 and A49, about 12 miles north of Hereford. Satnav coordinates for Corn Square in the town centre are HR6 8LT.