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Barrett Browning Institute

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The Barrett Browning Institute was opened on 16 January 1896. It was named in honour of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who spent part of her youth at Hope End in the parish of Ledbury. Her father, John Moulton Barrett, has a memorial in Ledbury parish church. Elizabeth married the poet Robert Browning who died in 1889. The national mourning for the poet prompted the naming of the Institute in honour of his wife.

It was designed by the Ipswich architect Brightwen Binyon, who won a competition, beating 44 other designs. It was built by Ledbury builder George Hill. Although Niklaus Pevsner was not impressed by its style, which attempts to echo the glories of the timber-framed Market House opposite, it has served Ledbury well since 1896. The Ledbury Reading Room moved from its premises in Church Lane into the ground floor of building as soon as it was completed. In 1938 it became a Public Library, opened on 11 November by local-born Poet Laureate John Masefield. It is still the Ledbury Branch of the Herefordshire county library service. The upper rooms were used for meetings and lectures.

Content generated during research for two paperback books 'Ledbury: A Market Town and its Tudor Heritage' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-598-7) and 'Ledbury: People and Parish before the Reformation' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-614-4) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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