A market town in Herefordshire, England with a population of about 12,000. The origin of the name Leominster, pronounced Lemster, is thought to come from Leofric III, Earl Mercia, (b.968 d.1057) although it is believed that the town predates him by some 200 years. Leominster's main church, the Priory Church, was founded in 633.
Due to it's location in the Marches, in Leominster's past, it is has been fought for by the Welsh, the English and bizarrely, the Dutch. It was also very near to Mortimer’s Cross, the site of a decisive battle during the war of the Roses. Roughly 4000 were killed in the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, most of whom are buried on the battlefield.
Leominster was an important trading town for it’s local sheepswool, which became known as "Leominster Ore" due to its commercial value. The livestock market still trades today, although it has been moved from the center of the town.
Nowadays Leominster is an odd town. It is the second largest settlement in Herefordshire (after Hereford itself.) It is a strange mix of tradition and dubious developments. The town square is very strange both in atmosphere and architecture. It is dominated by two buildings: the large, bland and intrusively white Conservative club and the Job Centre, which is a dark brick building built in the 1970s in the special 70s style. Other buildings on the square are half-timbered wonkey things that overhang the pavement. There are very few shops actually in the square and it is primarily used as a car park. This has always struck me as strange for a town that gained it's wealth and status, in times past, through trade. The square only comes alive on Fridays when the weekly market is held there, giving one the chance to buy everything from country and western cassette tapes through to plastic household items of junk and bargain clothing.
Leominster is bizarre in that it has a disproportionately high number of antique shops. Quite why this is I don't know, but I suspect it is the same reason that the Conservative club is so prominent.
As seems to be common for most rural towns, Leominster has a lot of pubs. Of particular note (to me) is the Black Horse, which brews its own beer. This used to be my "local" only by virtue of the fact it was close to school. They had a great tradition whereby anyone scoring 180 at darts would chalk their name and date on the ceiling.
The town's secondary school, The Minster School (now known pompously as The Minster College) used to be split across many sites in the town, meaning that pupils would have to walk miles between lessons. The Green Lane site was rumored to have been a WW2 prisoner of war camp.
Leominster is an overshadowed town, not particularly pretty; locally Ludlow wins that prize, and not big enough to be notable, Hereford beats it there. However, it provides a good solid base for people wanting to live and work in the countryside and it is a working town – it's not meant to be pretty.
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