Fantastic History Blog

I’ve lost days to this Tumblr by Leominster1941. A lively, eclectic mix of reminiscence and historical oddness, it’s written by a Leominster man with an impressive gift for storytelling! Well worth a few visits when you have a minute or two.

 

It was no real surprise that Fanny Brown spent a sleepless night on April 12th, 1912. The seventeen-year-old maid had been sharing her double bed for the last five hours with a half-naked man, two small children and a baby. She was also aware of the fact there was a dead body in one of the other bedrooms at Moreton Lodge.

At about half-past eleven, a blood-curdling gurgle had come from the mistress’s room. The Reverend Samuel Henry ran into his wife’s room and then burst into Fanny’s room exclaiming that Mrs Henry had cut her throat. He asked if he could bring in the baby, who slept with her mother, but was covered from head to toe in blood. Fanny quickly found some clean clothes for her and put her to sleep with the two little ones who were already in the room.

“Shall I go for help?” she asked, but the vicar declared that his wife was well beyond help: they should wait until morning when he would travel the three miles into Leominster to fetch a policeman. He then removed his trousers, jacket and waistcoat and curled up at the foot of Fanny’s bed and went to sleep.

About five hours later, the vicar woke, got up, washed, shaved and dressed and confirmed that he was going to Leominster to get some help; in the meantime, he asked Fanny if she would cook him some breakfast before he set off. Before she started preparing a meal, the terrified maid excused herself for a few moments and took the baby to the safety of the Conods next door, where she quickly explained the previous night’s events.

After Henry had finished his meal, Fanny enquired as to whether he’d enjoyed it. “Not very much”, was the reply before he went downstairs for a cigarette and took it back up to his study. Very shortly afterwards, four gunshots rang out in quick succession.

Read more: Gruesome murder near Leominster

School children in the 1950s
“There was a pot-bellied stove in each classroom.”

Swegn Godwinson (1020 – 1052) was the eldest son of a prolific family. He was the brother of Harold II. His father, Godwine of Wessex, worked his way up from relative obscurity to the most powerful Earl in the country. In 1043 he was given total control of Herefordshire along with other bordering counties.

Swegn’s future could have been assured if only he had behaved himself and not acted like a rogue and an outlaw.  He was the only one of his brood who seemed totally evil from the first.

What happened?

We know very little beside the basic events which look very bad indeed.  He was considered responsible for a number of murders and was exiled more than once.  In 1046, as he was returning from a successful expedition into Wales, he is said to have abducted the Abbess of Leominster, Eadgifu, had his way with her then sent her back in disgrace.

Read more: Abbess abduction – Swegn Godwinson

Romans capture Caractacus
The Romans capture King Caractacus (Caradoc)

It is time to mention the job which lasted only one day or night shift. I was persuaded that a lot more could be earned working night shifts at the Mother’s Pride factory in Hereford. It was possible to earn in one 12 hour shift the equivalent of three days labour at the Nursery.

My first task was working on the dough machine. Lumps of dough sufficient to make a loaf of bread came along a conveyor belt. Rotating in front of me were empty bins into which you dropped the dough before they moved into the oven. I was told to press the stop button if I could not keep up. There was a large basket at the end of the conveyor belt catching any dough was missed. The machine started and the nightmare began, it was too fast for me. Slowly but surely the basket began to fill up with dollops of dough and the emergency stop button was out of reach. Finally I gave up trying to catch the dough and switched the machine off.

Read more: Mother’s Pride – A one-night job

 

Local Facts

I’m still writing this post.

Where is Herefordshire?

On the edge of Wales. Physically it’s about the size of Greater London, but its entire population is less than Westminster’s.

herefordshire-location

Here’s a satellite image of Leominster – it’s only a mile and a half from edge to edge.

Satellite view of Leominster, Herefordshire
Google Earth view of Leominster town. You could walk the length or breadth of it in half an hour! (Well, I couldn’t but a normally able person can.) It’s all fields round here.

 Population

Herefordshire is one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country, with 187,000 folks scattered across its 842 square miles.

You could seat the whole town in Bristol Rovers’ stadium.

Leominster has all of 11,900 residents. Bristol Rovers could fit the  lot in, with 200 seats spare! Believe it or not, Leominster’s the biggest of the market towns. Only Hereford is bigger at 60,000 – you’d need Arsenal’s stadium.

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65 acres, under £1m.
Lovely house but my idea of isolation hell.

Half of Herovians live out in the villages, and on dispersed properties. The Herefordshire countryside would be an excellent location for people involved in dodgy trades – all that privacy and an underfunded police force :twi

What’s it known for?

 

What else?

Crisps & Vodka

Tyrrells

Cider

Heritage

Jenny Pipes

Killing stroppy women

About this

I reluctantly moved to Herefordshire in 2007. A Londoner whose health had collapsed, I was used to dynamic, vibrant, demanding city life. I could no longer meet its demands. I knew a rural market town would be different – but not exactly how. I’m still learning.

It is inward-looking.

Leominster’s full of vintage charm. It is inward-looking: local people marry local people, start their families young and live around the corner from their parents. Despite numerous EU grants it’s economically moribund. I used to think it culturally stale, too, but I was wrong. It’s just different.

Some of the very best English produce comes from Herefordshire, but where are the quality restaurants?

There is money here – the countryside’s beautiful, with a smattering of mansions on extravagant land – but it doesn’t take much to be rich in Herefordshire. Barely anything sells for over a million, which would just buy an average home in the South-East. My London eye sees the potential in forgotten architectural marvels, and weeps.

Where’s the pride in Leominster’s heritage?
I can’t offer this town the confidence boost it needs.

Local farm produce is incredible: some of the very best English meat and fruit comes from Herefordshire. But quality restaurants are scarce; why is that? Does Leominster NOT KNOW WHAT IT’S GOT??? I sometimes feel like ranting (!) … but I am old and sick. I can’t offer this town the confidence boost it sorely needs.

Instead, I’ll try to show you round my adopted home, as I find it and as my health allows.

The copyright of all text, images & other media contained in this website belongs to me, the author (msaustin), except where otherwise specified. Permission to reproduce it is not implied.

You may re-post it unaltered and with a direct link back to my blog.

Visitor Information


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Leominster Tourist Information Centre “can help you with everything you need when visiting the glorious North Herefordshire countryside.”


thegrange1
Black & White Houses is written by an expert on timber-framed buildings and the ‘Village Trail’.


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Visit Herefordshire – Commercial tourism services.


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Leominster Town Council


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Leominster Guide – Assorted information.


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The local paper.


Satellite view of Leominster, Herefordshire

Local Facts – My very own collection of diverting data.


Picture set: Alleys & Entrances

Once-imposing doorways, hidden courtyards and narrow alleys in Leominster. Some of the alleyways are still named for the trades that once were practised there. I don’t know how they did it; the alleys are only about a metre wide!

Picture set: Everyday

Some photos that are representative of 21st-century life here.

Background

England’s full of quiet little market towns. Part of the ‘Black & White Villages‘ tourist trail, Leominster was founded by Saxon monks in the 7th century. It grew into a significant wool trading centre during the Middle Ages; powerful merchants showed off their wealth with grand timber-framed houses and fancy meeting rooms. Their buildings now look quaint, and Leominster has gently decayed ever since.

The 21st century has made little impact on Leominster – but it is changing.

For centuries the annual winter floods used to isolate tiny, agricultural Herefordshire from the rest of England and Wales. Still agricultural, often flooded, and still with poor transport links to the outside world, the county seems to have stalled on the hard shoulder of Time’s motorway (it only has 5 miles of real motorway!)

I hope to share a little of Leominster’s shifting character. It’s just one resident’s view.

The 21st century has made little impact on Leominster – but it is changing. Towns like this get modernised haphazardly, on the cheap. Remarkable old work falls apart, replaced or covered with very unremarkable new builds. Pathways are shut off without explanation. Businesses close. Young people leave.

No-one seems to document this happening, so I hope to share a little of Leominster’s shifting character. It’s just one resident’s view.

Click around, and enjoy the visit.

Picture set: Peace & Quiet

Before starting this blog, I did some reading about Leominster. It is repeatedly described as a ‘bustling market town’. This gives me an impression of prosperous traders dashing about their business through crowds of happy shoppers.

Well … It’s sometimes quite busy, if there’s an event on.