The Barrett-Browning Institute, Ledbury

Recent Photograph of The Barrett-Browning Institute (Ledbury)

Ledbury has been home for three famous poets, John MASEFIELD, William LANGLAND, and Elizabeth BARRETT-BROWING. Elizabeth was born in 1806 at Coxhoe Hall in Durham, and in 1809 her family moved to live at Hope End, just north of Ledbury. It was here where Elizabeth started writing her poetry, although she never returned after the family left in 1832, saying that to do so ‘would be like seeking to bring together a plucked flower and its broken stalk’.

This photograph shows her memorial - the Barrett-Browing Institute, which now, like the Ledbury Market Hall, is one of the town's traditional landmarks!

A Mr William RUSSELL, of Woodlands, Parkway had the idea originally of erecting a memorial, and his idea was accepted, with support and donations coming from many local people. Designs were invited, with the winning design coming from Mr Brightwen Binyon, an architect from Ipswich. A local builder, George Hill submitted the lowest tender, and work was started in August 1894, with completion almost a year later at a cost of £2,330. It was opened officially on January 16th 1896, but sadly Mr Russell himself died before seeing it completed.

The Barrett-Browning Institute has been home to the Ledbury Public Library since 1938, when John Masefield, who was then Poet Laureate performed the inaugural ceremony.

The site, on the corner of Bye Street and the Homeend, was occupied formerly by a classic timber-framed building housing shops, stables and a tannery.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

[1] Postle, David - A Glimpse of Old Ledbury. Published by The Amadeus Press Ltd. Huddersfield, 1988. ISBN 0-9510684-2-3.
[2] Ledbury Poetry Festival - the 2003 site had a page entitled ‘Ledbury: Land of Poets’ with information about the leading players.

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie on 14th September 1999.
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