If (as most outsiders do) you approach Ledbury from the south, leaving the M50, passing through leafy lanes and entering the sleepy Southend, with its handsome houses of Georgian brick, your first impression is of a town little changed over the last two hundred years.
Ledbury is a small market town in south-east Herefordshire, one of five scattered around the county's capital, Hereford, at its centre. Once there were seventeen, but all except Bromyard, Kington, Leominster, Ross and Ledbury have dwindled to quiet but picturesque villages. In many ways it is little different from its fellow urban survivors, yet all towns are distinct, the product of their own particular history. This book tells the story of Ledbury - not from its beginnings, but from its mid-point, a time of great promise, wealth and enterprise, when much of its imposing architecture was conceived. The story runs on to the present, from the reign of the first Elizabeth to that of the second, pausing briefly to take stock in the year that the future queen, Victoria, came to visit. This is an urban study, therefore, but the town is only part of the story.