Grange Court, Leominster
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Outstanding timber-frame construction
In an area blessed with an abundance of outstanding timber-framed buildings, Grange Court in the historic market town of Leominster is perhaps the finest example open to the public. This beautifully-crafted building was the work of a master carpenter named John Abel, whose skill would eventually make him the King's Carpenter under King Charles I.
Abel was responsible for several other outstanding timber-framed buildings in the Leominster area, including Ledbury Market Hall and Weobley School House. He is buried in the church at Sarnesfield.
Grange Court was built in 1633 to act as Leominster's market hall. It stood at the top of Broad Street and acted as a space for the weekly butter market, where local farmers and merchants could sell chickens, butter, and eggs. Given its function, it is not surprising that the building was known as the 'Butter Crosse'.
The hall remained in operation for over 200 years but as Leominster grew larger and busier by the middle of the 19th century it was considered a traffic hazard. In 1853 it was dismantled, timber by timber, and stored in a builder's yard.
In 1859 rescue came in the form of John Arkwright, a member of the same family as Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning jenny. Arkwright rebuilt the 17th-century building on the edge of the public park known as The Grange (now called Priory Gardens). The ground floor was filled in to make it suitable for residential use, and then leased to the Moore family as a dwelling.
It remained a family home until 1939 when a plan was mooted to disassemble it once more and transport it to St Donat's Castle in South Wales to act as a gatehouse. Rather than let the historic building be taken away, the Leominster District Council stepped in with a compulsory purchase order and bought the house.
It served as government offices until 2008, when a massive redevelopment project transformed Grange Court into a community hub. It now hosts events such as weddings and conferences and is home to a popular cafe and community information centre administered by a community-owned trust. So today this beautiful historic building is directly owned by the people of Leominster.
Grange Court is the most familiar icon of Leominster. Its outline appears on town signs and tourist information brochures.
What to See
What makes Grange Court so special is the wealth of carving details. The building exterior is adorned with a profusion of intricately carved foliage, faces, strange beasts, heraldic symbols and geometric designs.
The range of subjects is remarkable. There are regal kings, a mischievous man with a book, a woman sticking her tongue out, a disgruntled woman holding a mirror, a pouting child, demonic serpents, lions, caryatids with cloven hoofs, Tudor roses, and much, much more. Everywhere you look strange faces peer back at you. The attention to fine detail in the carving is extraordinary.
Grange Court acts as a permanent home to 'Leominster in Stitches', a series of 31 embroidered panels depicting the history of Leominster over time. The panels were created by 15 local artists over a period of 4 years and cover the period from the foundation of a Saxon nunnery here in AD 660 to Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The house is regularly open to the public - see the official website for current details. You can tour the house interiors and learn how the timber-framed structure was built through fascinating hands-on exhibits.
There is a parking area immediately behind Grange Court and a small, colourful garden in front of the house.
In the garden south-east of the Court, you will see medieval carved stones discovered when the site was cleared for construction. These stones are thought to have come from Leominster's medieval Benedictine priory. They have been assembled in the form of a 13th-century archway with single lancet windows to each side.
You can pick up a Black and White Buildings Trail from the reception desk, outlining a guide to the most interesting timber-framed buildings in and around Leominster. Find out how timber-framed buildings like Grange Court were built, what tools were used, and more about the craftsmen who built them.
Leominster is also the starting point for the famous Black and White Villages Trail, taking in the most beautiful and historic villages in northern Herefordshire, places known for their picturesque collection of timber-framed buildings.
Grange Court stands at the far end of Priory Gardens, easily reached on foot from Corn Square - the historic town centre - and from neighbouring Leominster Priory. The Court is very well signposted from around the town centre and is extremely easy to find.
About Grange Court, Leominster
Address: Pinsley Road, Leominster, Herefordshire, England, HR6 8NL
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: On the far side of Priory Gardens, easily reached on foot from the town centre. There is a parking area reached off Pinsley Road.
Website: Grange Court, Leominster
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Leominster Priory - 0.2 miles (Historic Church)
Leominster Museum - 0.2 miles (Museum)
Monkland, All Saints Church - 2.5 miles (Historic Church)
Berrington Hall - 2.9 miles (Historic House)
Eye, St Peter & St Paul Church - 2.9 miles (Historic Church)
Kingsland, St Michael & All Angels Church - 3.5 miles (Historic Church)
Stretford, St Cosmos & St Damian Church - 4 miles (Historic Church)
Yarpole, St Leonards Church - 4 miles (Historic Church)
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