Leominster (// (listen) LEM-stər) is a market town in Herefordshire, England, at the confluence of the River Lugg and its tributary the River Kenwater 12 miles (19 km) north of Hereford and 7 miles south of Ludlow in Shropshire. With a population of 11,700, Leominster is the largest of the five towns (Leominster, Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Bromyard and Kington) in the county.
The town takes its name from a minster, that is a community of clergy in the district of Lene or Leon, probably in turn from an Old Welsh root lei to flow. Contrary to certain reports, the name has nothing to do with Leofric, an 11th-century Earl of Mercia (most famous for being the miserly husband of Lady Godiva). The Welsh name for Leominster, used today by a few on the Welsh side of the nearby border, is Llanllieni.
During the Early Middle Ages, Leominster was home to Æthelmod of Leominster, an English saint known to history mainly through the hagiography of the Secgan Manuscript. He is reputedly buried in Leominster.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a raid by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn on Leominster in 1052 resulted in the Battle of Llanllieni, between the Welsh and a combined force of Normans (mercenaries) and English Saxons.
Henry I bestowed the minster and its estates on Reading Abbey, which founded a priory at Leominster in 1121, although there was one here from Saxon times. Its Priory Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which now serves as the parish church, is the remaining part of this 12th-century Benedictine monastery. Quatrefoil piers were inserted between 1872–79 by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
Investigations to the north of the priory in 2005 located the position of the cloister, although most of the stone had been stolen following the Dissolution. Discarded animal bones found on the site when submitted to carbon dating showed that the area was occupied in the 7th century. This agrees with the date of 660 CE associated with the founding myth, which suggests a Christian community was established here by a monk, St. Edfrid, from Northumberland.
Leominster is also the historical home of Ryeland sheep, a breed once famed for its "Lemster" [sic] wool, known as 'Lemster ore'. This wool was prized above all other English wool in trade with the continent of Europe in the Middle Ages. It was the income and prosperity from this wool trade that established the town and the minster and attracted the envy of the Welsh and other regions.
From approximately 1748 to 1754, Pinsley Mill in Leominster was home to one of the Paul-Wyatt cotton mills, the first four cotton mills in the world, employing the spinning machines of Lewis Paul and John Wyatt. The mill was financed by Lancashire native Daniel Bourn, and was partly owned by other men from Lancashire. Bourn introduced his own version of the carding engine to work at this mill, and of the four Paul-Wyatt mills, it may have been the most successful, as shortly after the fire that destroyed the mill, it was reported that the cotton works "had been viewed with great pleasure and admiration by travellers and all who had seen them."
One of the last ordeals by ducking stool took place in Leominster in 1809, with Jenny Pipes as the final incumbent. The ducking stool is on public display in Leominster Priory; a mechanised depiction of it is featured on the town clock.
As with all towns in the United Kingdom, Leominster has a maritime climate, with mild winters and summers. The data below is from a weather station in Preston Wynne, a village about 10 miles South East of Leominster.
|Climate data for Preston Wynne, elevation 84 metres (276 ft), 1971–2000|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.9
|Average low °C (°F)||1.1
Leominster railway station has Transport for Wales services on the Welsh Marches Line, northbound to Manchester Piccadilly via Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Crewe as well as Holyhead via Shrewsbury, Wrexham General and Chester and southbound to Milford Haven or Cardiff Central via Hereford and Abergavenny and Newport; links to London Paddington are achieved by changing at Hereford, for services via Worcester and Oxford, or at Newport, South Wales.
Earl Mortimer college, is a state comprehensive school providing secondary education for about 650 pupils. The town has two primary schools; Leominster Primary School and Westfield's School. Primary schools in the villages around the town include Ivington, Kimbolton, Kingsland, Luston and Stoke Prior
- Saint Cuthfleda was the abbess of the nunnery at Leominster and the patroness of the region. Known for her holiness and chaste life.
- Æthelmod of Leominster Anglo-Saxon Saint
- Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife Godgifu Lady Godiva – are commemorated as benefactors of the monastery at Leominster
- John Abel (1578/9-1675), an English carpenter and mason, granted the title of 'King's Carpenter', who was responsible for several notable structures in the ornamented half-timbered construction, notably the market house known as Grange Court (1633) in Leominster, which originally stood in Broad Street, but was rebuilt in 1855 near to the Priory Church. It is widely regarded as one of Abel's finest works.
- John Scarlett Davis (1804–1845), artist, was born at 2 High Street. A number of his works are in Leominster Museum.
- Arthur Peppercorn (1889–1951), locomotive designer
- "Neighbourhood Statistics – Area: Leominster (Parish) – Sex, 2011 (QS104EW)". United Kingdom Census 2011. Office for National Statistics. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- J. & C. Hillaby, Leominster Minster, Priory, and Borough c.660–1539 (Logaston Press, Almeley, Herefs. 2006), 4–5.
- Stowe MS 944 Archived 3 January 2014 at Archive.today, British Library
- Evans, Gwynfor (1974). Land of My Fathers: 2000 Years of Welsh History. Y Lolfa. p. 156. ISBN 9780862432652.
- Hillaby, 53-7
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- Manchester Mercury, reported on 5 November 1754
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- The Chronicle of John of Worcester ed. and trans. R.R. Darlington, P. McGurk and J. Bray (Clarendon Press: Oxford 1995), pp.582–3.
- "John Abel, King's carpenter", Grange Court website. Accessed 5 January 2014.
- Hobbs, Tony (2004). John Scarlett Davis: A Biography. Almeley, Herefordshire: Logaston Press. ISBN 1904396151.
- "Arthur Peppercorn", A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. Accessed 5 January 2014.