Market House, Ross-on-Wye
Market House, Ross-on-Wye

The Market House is a Ross-on-Wye landmark, built in 1650 as a venue for shopkeepers selling their produce in the market square. It is a rectangular building of red sandstone, with six high arches on the long sides and two on the ends, creating a sheltered arcade for market stalls and storage.

The Market House (or, as it is sometimes called, the 'Old Market House') was probably built by Frances, Duchess of Somerset, to replace the earlier Booth Hall. While the ground level was used for market affairs, the upper chambers served as a court leat - the forerunner of the system of Justices of the Peace and Magistrates Court.

The chambers were later used as a public library. Very little alteration has taken place to the building, apart from a minimal restoration of the gable ends, and it remains an excellent example of a 17th-century market building.

The Market House now houses the local heritage centre, and offers exhibits on the history of the town of Ross and the surrounding area, with old photographs, computer slide-shows, and audio-visual aids, in addition to changing exhibits of local crafts and artwork.

On the exterior gable end is a large medallion in white stone depicting Charles II (Herefordshire was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil War). Across the street from the Market House is a timber-framed building where John Kyrle, the 'Man of Ross', lived.

This really is a lovely old hall, surrounded by a mix of other historic buildings. The heritage displays were not extensive, but there were some very interesting information panels on the history of Ross-on-Wye and John Kyrle. When we visited the craft display area on the first floor had opened a large window looking out over the surrounding streets, and the view was simply wonderful.