Ledbury has been named as one of the best places to visit and live in the Midlands, according to The Sunday Times.
Judges assessed a wide range of factors, from schools, transport and broadband speed to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street to reach their verdict. They visit locations and speak to locals as they look for improving places, for attractive, well designed homes, and locations bursting with community spirit.
Helen Davies, The Sunday Times Home editor said, “Our advice is simple. Think about everything you love and everything you hate, then make sure you have access to the good things while minimising exposure to the bad ones.
“Never has where you live felt more important. This year we have, along with house prices, air quality, good schools and access to green spaces.”
Let’s move to Ledbury, Herefordshire: twee-free, it wears its beauty lightly.
There is something irresistibly timeless about the place, in our age of freneticness.
What’s going for it?
I bet Ledbury’s looking seasonal today. The town’s like a Quality Street lid come to life – old-style Quality Street, before it got rid of the bonneted lady, her soldier-stalker and the ye olde street scenes from days of yore. If you want a refresher, Ledbury’s your place, its streets an utterly charming jumble of redbrick Georgian townhouses, ickle cottages and, its speciality, black and white timber-framed Tudor, twisted and tottering on to the pavements. It wears its beauty lightly. Were this not in Herefordshire, hardly in the thick of things, it would have become self-aware, pretentious. Ledbury keeps it real, with butchers, bakers and, er, gun-makers on its streets and a twee-free atmosphere, give or take the odd gifte shoppe. There is something irresistibly timeless about the place, in our age of freneticness. Inside St Michael & All Angels church lie tombs and stone effigies of knights that have weathered worse than Brexit. Meanwhile, keeping watch on the town, high above it, the rocks of the Malvern Hills, almost 700m years old (former volcanoes, say some), give a daily reality check on the transience of things.
The case against
On the quiet side of life, even if there are poetry festivals and all sorts to keep you entertained. It’s hardly Dartford Crossing, but traffic can be a problem, despite the addition of a sort-of bypass.
Trains: to Hereford (16 mins), or Worcester the other way (24- 28 mins); hourly to Birmingham (71 mins). Driving: half an hour to Hereford or Gloucester, 40 mins to Cheltenham or Worcester; the M50 passes a few miles to the south.
Primaries: Ledbury Primary is “good”, says Ofsted, with Eastnor Parochial, just outside, “outstanding”. Secondaries: John Masefield High is “good”.
Hang out at…
The Feathers, for a full dose of wood beams and roaring fires; “convivial”, says the Good Pub Guide, and I couldn’t agree more.
From the streets
Cressida Connolly: “Gorgeous architecture, independent shops and a great setting.”
Leonie Gregson: “A real mix of people – older, more conservative residents, blue-haired hippies, smart business types and be-cardiganned academics.”
Ledbury – a place of poetry and culture
Big enough to be bustling and vibrant, but small enough to keep a strong sense of community, Ledbury is a market town with a unique feel.
At the centre of Ledbury is the Black and White Grade 1 listed Market Hall. Reportedly designed by the King’s Carpenter John Abel, building work on Market Hall started in 1617 and took around 50 years. It is one of the finest examples in England and still hosts markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
If you are interested in exploring Ledbury and the surrounding area on two wheels, including the unique cider cycling route, Come Cycling Ledbury offers all the information you need to get you on the right track and exploring the county.
A who’s who of poetry, so fitting for a festival
Victorian poet legend Elizabeth Barratt-Browning lived at Hope End on the outskirts of Ledbury. John Masefiled – Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 – 1967 – was born in the town in 1878. The Dymock Poets – a 20th century group were based around the nearby Gloucestershire village that gave them their name.
Taking place over 10 days every July, The Ledbury Poetry Festival has become the leading poetry festival in the UK, featuring poets from all over the world. Visit the festival and enjoy readings, performances, films, workshops and more.
History at every turn
A number of timbered buildings align the charming Ledbury High Street. Pop into Ledbury Town Hall to view the 16th century painted room or walk up a cobbled street to the Butcher Row House Museum which offers a fascinating glimpse into local Victorian life.
Just out of town, in the foothills of the Malverns is Eastnor Castle. Surrounded by a beautiful deer park, arboretum and lake, Eastnor is a 19th Century revival castle with richly decorated interiors to view and magnificent grounds to explore.
(Article source: Various)