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A Hidden Gem

This amazing building in a quiet corner of Leominster in Herefordshire is known as Grange Court. Built in 1633 by John Abel as an extravagant market hall for the town centre, the building fell into disuse and was eventually moved, lock, stock and barrel, to its current location next to a quiet park area.


It was originally hollow at its lower level but this part was filled in as the hall was converted into a grand home. The American tycoon William Randolph Hearst tried to purchase the building just before the outbreak of World War II,with the intention of moving it yet again! He wanted to transport it to St Donats Castle in South Glamorgan where it was to serve as as a gatehouse but the deal was blocked and the hall requisitioned by the War Office.


The decorative carvings on the building exterior are just marvellous. Mermaids, dragons, grotesque heads and snarling dogs look down upon curious visitors, an absolute showcase of Stuart Era craftsmanship, similar in some ways to the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow. If the various heads and bodies are symbolic of anything I can't shed any light on it, but there are various slogans inscribed all around the building exhorting the reader to do their best in life and to give glory to God.


Curiously, almost every member of the Royal Family has visited Grange Court at some point, including the late Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother.


I take a look at some of the stranger places and stories of Herefordshire in my books The Mystery Of Mercia I and II and The Magic Of Mercia, all available now at the links in "Shop".



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