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LEOMINSTER, a market-town and municipal borough in the Leominster parliamentary division of Herefordshire, England, in a rich agricultural country on the Lugg, 157 m. W.N.W. of London and 125 N. of Hereford on the Great Western and London & North-Western railways. Pop. (1901) 5826. Area, 8728 acres. Some fine old timber houses lend picturesqueness to the wide streets. The parish church, of mixed architecture, including the Norman nave of the old priory church, and containing some of the most beautiful examples of window tracery in England, was restored in 1866, and enlarged by the addition of a south nave in 1879. The Butter Cross, a beautiful example of timber work of the date 1633, was removed when the townhall was building, and re-erected in the pleasure ground of the Grange. Trade is chiefly in agricultural produce, wool and cider, as the district is rich in orchards. Brewing (from the produce of local hop-gardens) and the manufacture of agricultural implements are also carried on. The town is under a mayor, four aldermen and twelve councillors.

Merewald, king of Mercia, is said to have founded a religious house in Leominster (Llanlieni, Leofminstre, Lempster) in 660, and a nunnery existed here until the Conquest, when the place became a royal demesne. It was granted by Henry I. to the monks of Reading, who built in it a cell of their abbey, and under whose protection the town grew up and was exempted from the Sphere of the county and hundred courts. In 1539 it reverted to the crown; and in 1554 was incorporated, by a charter renewed in 1562, 1563, 1605, 1666, 1685 and 1786. The borough returned two members to the parliament of 1295 and to other parliaments, until by the Representation Act 1867 it lost one representative, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 separate representation. A fair was granted in the time of Henry II., and fairs in the seasons of Michaelmas and the feasts of St Philip and St James and of Edward the Confessor, in 1265, 1281 and 1290 respectively. Charters to the burghers authorized fairs on the days of St Peter and of St Simon and St Jude in 1554, on St Bartholomew's day in 1605, in Mid-lent week in 1665, and on the feast of the Purification and on the 2nd of May in 1685; these fairs have modern representatives. A market was held by the abbey by a grant of Henry I.; Friday is now market day. Leominster was famous for wool from the 13th to the 18th century. There were gilds of mercers, tailors, drapers, dyers and glovers in the 16th century. In 1835 the wool trade was said to be dead; and that of glove-making, which had been important, was diminishing. Hops and apples were grown in 1715.

See G. Townsend, The Town and Borough of Leominster (1863), and John Price, An Historical and Topographical Account of Leominster and its Vicinity (Ludlow, 1715).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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