The Master's House, St. Katherine's Hospital
The Master's House is one of the oldest buildings in Ledbury. It was the home of the Master of St. Katherine's Almshouses, founded in 1232. It was sold by the Dean and Chapter of Hereford Cathedral (Trustees of the Almshouses). In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was known as 'The Deanery'. For a while it was a doctor's surgery and now houses Herefordshire Council's Ledbury ofices. Its future use is uncertain. More information may be obtained from the The Ledbury Development Trust.
The Master's House is of two storeys partly timber-framed and partly of brick. The roofs are covered with tiles and slates. It is of irregular L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. The original 15th century house formed part of the W. wing, with a central hall and kitchen and solar-wings at the E. and W. ends. This is a late medieval, timber-framed open-hall house with cross wings at each end. Tree-ring dating has shown that it is built from timber that was felled in 1487 and so it would have been erected either in the same year or the following one. [Report forthcoming by Nottingham Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory]. It is a late example of a medieval hall house because in Herefordshire after about 1500 the preference was to build ceiled halls, with chimneystacks rather than an open hearth. The hall range contains a spere truss, with cusping, at the lower end; a principal truss, with arch bracing to the collar, over the middle of the hall; and a further decorated truss at the upper end. There were also projecting oriels on both sides of the upper end of the hall and at the cross passage – the latter possibly forming porches. Both cross wings are of three bays. The hall roof has two tiers of curved wind braces. [Morriss, R. K. 2002].The house was altered in the 16th and 17h centuries and in the 18th century the S. front was rebuilt. An addition was made at the W. end in 1867.
The west range of the master's House, 2007
The room which was the dining-room in 1930 was in the former solar-wing. It is lined with 16th century panelling with an enriched frieze. On the frieze above are the date 1588 and initials: E.C. Edward Cooper was Master of the Hospital from 1562 until his death in 1596. His monument is to be seen in the chancel of Ledbury church.
Herefordshire Historic Sites and Monuments Record number 19873
RCHM Herefordshire vol II East 1932 number 2
J. Hillaby, Ledbury A Medieval Borough, 2005, 102
J. Hillaby, St. Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury c. 1230-1547, 2003
F.C. Morgan and A. J. Winnington-Ingram, 'The Accounts of St. Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury, 1584-95', Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club, 1953, 88-132
R.K. Morriss, 'The Master's House, Ledbury, Herefordshire', Mercian Heritage Series no. 166, unpublished report 2002.
A. .J. Winnington-Owen, 'Edward Cooper or Cowper, 1528-1596', Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club, 1948, xciii-civ
NGR SO 7110 3766
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