Friday, February 12, 2021

Ledbury, Herefordshire

TA very much 

This is one of a row of four shops that make up the ground floor of a large timber-framed building in Ledbury, not far from the door canopy in my previous post. The building was once quite a grand town house, built in the 17th century and altered in the 18th. I often wince when I see more recent shop fronts inserted into ancient buildings, sometimes with little or no regard to the structure above. An example in Banbury that I posted a couple of years ago is an example. But times and needs change. Towns evolve, and buildings are altered in turn – I don’t want to pursue a Darwinian metaphor too far but the evolution can enable the building to survive.

And then, looking a little closer, I find that there are actually things to admire in the later additions. The blue and white shop front next door has a good frontage. It’s a hardware store, hard to see architecturally when the shopkeeper’s wares spill out on to the pavement, but the shopkeeper is more interested in making a living than in my impulse to clear gardening equipment or bedding plants out of the way so I can admire the architecture. But, briefly, there’s some unusually shaped panelling and a nice curved console bracket, its flutes picked out in white. A Victorian carpenter must have been pleased with that 150 years ago.

But it’s the shop front next door that my picture shows more fully. It’s plainer, but it’s nicely dentilled. There’s jazzy black and white tiling just visible beneath the doormat by the entrance, and I wonder if those upper panes of glass are the size of the originals (maybe – plate glass got quite large after 1851). The wall of the entrance porch looks as if it has been ‘done’ in faux timber-framing, but even that has its charm and is black and white, to match the building as a whole. More than this, recent owners have made something of the frontage. There’s some pleasant gilded lettering in the lower part of the window and the painted sign up in the fascia is very well made, in attractive serif letters (even if the small numerals in ‘1966’ are a little squashed for my personal taste).

Established 1966: it doesn’t seem that long ago. I can remember 1966. But hang on – if I can remember it, it doesn’t mean it’s recent, I’m sorry to say. A business that has continued for 55 years is something to be proud of these days. Especially when the High Street is expected or obliged to reinvent itself every five minutes and is threatened by online competition, out of town malls, and lockdowns. In summary, the signs both look good and tell us what we want to know – that it’s a fruit and veg shop, that the proprietors’ names are MA and TA Jenkins. I hope they can carry on much longer. TA very much.

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Ledbury in general is recommended as a destination! (And not just because the gentry family commemorated in the parish church are called Biddulph.) My recent novella (available free, post free to anyone who cares to supply their address, or via e-mail) MUSIC FOR MEENAKSHI is set in a thinly-disguised Ledbury under the name of Silverbury.

Anything on Herefordshire oasthouses, and how they differ from the Kentish variety? Must HOP into Herfs and explore when the restrictions are lifted.