Ledbury Market House
This two-storey timber-framed building is a key central structure in Ledbury and an important visual symbol of the town. There are 7 posts on the long sides and 3 at the ends, all with curved braces supporting the upper storey. Posts are moulded, grooved and tapered with moulded bases on stone plinths. The upper storey has attractive herringbone panelling. The gables are divided into square panels. The upper storey projects on all sides, with chamfered bressumers and exposed timber framing on West and South sides.
The year of construction has always been something of a puzzle to historians and, as a consequence, a wide range of dates has found its way into print. The statutory List Entry (of 1953) states that the Market House was begun c. 1617 and finished after 1653. Pevsner has similar dates of 1617 and completed after 1655. The Herefordshire SMR has a date of c. 1633 (which is actually when the very different Leominster Market House by John Abel was built) and this is, presumably, taken from the RCHM survey of 1930 [RCHM 1932 pp 106-7]. It is interesting to see that the inspector's notes do not give this information but that it has been added, in pencil, in a different hand at the top of the card [RCHM notes. 1930]. Other sources have 1645 (the Frith Collection) and 1653 [Wallis, J.D. & Wood, G.C.]. The latter, and the RCHM, attribute it to John Abel although there is no evidence for this and indeed the style of the building, and other factors, must surely rule out his involvement.
It is clear that there were two phases to the construction of the building; it was begun in or after 1617 but only completed, largely in its present form, on or after 1668. Recently (2006) the Market House underwent re-roofing and repairs to the bases of some of the columns and the attendant scaffolding allowed a close inspection to be made of the frame, in particular the ground-floor ceiling. This has provided important clues concerning the primary and secondary construction phases of the building.
RCHM Herefordshire vol. II East, 1932, number 3
Hillaby, J. Ledbury, A Medieval Borough ,1997
Wallis, J.D. & Wood, G.C.
D. James, 'An Analysis of the Historic Fabric of Late 16th and Early 16th Century Buildings in Ledbury, Herefordshire', 2007, 14-18
English Heritage IoE number 151844
Herefordshire Sites and Monuments number 3219
NGR SO 7110 3771
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