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Ross-on-Wye b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire

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Visit Ross-on-Wye and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Ross-on-wye, Herefordshire, is a modest market town set on a red sandstone cliff above a lovely sweep of the River Wye, and a magnet for summer tourists. Although its origins may well go back to Roman times, the essential character of the town as it is seen today is due to the extraordinary efforts of one man, John Kyrle. He was born in Dymock, Gloucestershire, in 1637, studied at Oxford and the Middle Temple and then resided in Ross until his death in 1724. He was wealthy yet his own tastes were simple, enabling him to become a great benefactor of the town he loved. Such was his modesty and unassuming nature that had it not been for Alexander Pope who, staying frequently at nearby Holme Lacy, wrote his praises as the “Man of Ross” in his Moral Essays, posterity might have known little about John Kyrle. His house can still be seen at No. 34 in the triangular Market Place. It is possible to visit the little garden at the back; this must have been laid out some time before the end of the 17th century, which makes its Gothic summer-house and grotesque ornamental arches all the more remarkable. The Market Place is dominated by the 14-arched, double-gabled, 17th-century Market Hall, of sandstone with medalhoned upper windows and arched lights. Between the two gables is a carved medallion of Charles II. Parts of the timber balcony and balustrade of the older Booth Hall which stood on the same site are incorporated into the building.

Among the many aspects of early town planning initiated and financed by John Kyrle is the Prospect, a walled public garden, South West and East of the church. There are good views of the town, and not least of the elegant new bridge carrying the rebuilt A449 across the river. Kyrle's gates survive on the East and South with their Classical elegance unimpaired. They bear the cipher of his name and the date A.D. 1700. He also planted the famous elms in the churchyard and raised the causeway leading to the splendid 16th-century Wilton Bridge which was reinforced during the First World War and has since been considerably widened. It is a bridge to lean upon and watch the eddying river below; although an 18th-century sundial on the parapet has a moral verse inscribed against the vice of wasting time. Kyrle also gave the town its first water supply and repaired the upper part of the 208-ft, 14th-century spire of St Mary's and added pinnacles. From the early 13th century, when it was begun, until the 15th century the church acquired much good stained glass (that in the east window is notable and dates from 1430) and new windows were inserted in the north aisle. The arcades were considerably raised in the mid-18th century, greatly changing the aspect of the church. Although still lofty and light, St Mary's suffered from the work of restorers between 1862 and 1878.

The church is rich in monuments, particularly those to the right of the chancel arch in the south aisle belonging to the Rudhall family. The alabaster tomb of William Rudhall, who was Attorney General to Arthur, the elder brother of Henry VIII, was carved by one of the last of the great medieval guilds in Nottingham and was brought to Ross by packhorses. Among the saints carved on the tomb is the unusual St Zita of Lucia, the patron saint of domestic servants. In the north wall of the sanctuary is the monument to the “Man of Ross”. He is buried under the sanctuary floor. The churchyard contains a rare plague cross, restored, but its base still bears the inscription “Plague, Ano. Dom. 1637. Burials 315. Libera nos Domine.” The picturesque almshouses with their gables and diamond-leaded dormer windows in Church Street were built by a member of the Rudhall family in the early 17th century. Some good Georgian houses still stand on the north-west side of the Market Place. Walks North and South of the town along the river banks will give as much enjoyment today as they did to the young Victoria, who stayed at the Royal Hotel overlooking the river before her accession to the throne.

To the South of the town are the lovely Penyard Woods and nearby is the site of the Roman settlement of Ariconium, then a great forge for the arms of the Roman legionaries stationed in Britain. Bearing a little to the West through leafy lanes, the walker can reach Kerne Bridge with its fine vistas up and down stream. Nearby devoted anglers can be rewarded by visiting the site of the home of Robert Pashley, one of the most remarkable salmon fishermen who ever lived. The fame of the “Wizard of the Wye” extends across the English-speaking world. He died in 1956.

Brockhampton-by-Ross lies 5 miles to the North of Ross and just off the B4224. It has a remarkable concrete and stone church built by W. R. Lethaby in 1901-2. It has honest craftsmanship- Lethaby was a disciple of William Morris - and an integrity of structure which, although medieval in inspiration, looks forward to modem architecture. Burne-Jones designed the tapestry and Morris & Co. made it. Lethaby's design is in perfect harmony with its rural surroundings and is approached by a thatched lych-gate on massive semi-circular supports. The ruins of the old church stand in the grounds of what is now the Brockhampton Court Hotel which incorporates a gracious rectory of the late 18th century.

Nearby cities: Gloucester, Hereford

Nearby towns: Cinderford, Ledbury, Mitcheldean, Newent, Monmouth

Nearby villages: Aconbury, Aston Ingham, Broad Oak, Callow, Cinderford, Crow Hill, Drybrook, Dymock, Flaxley, Fownhope, Foy, Goodrich, Hoarwithy, Holme Lacy, Huntley, Kempley, Kerne Bridge, Little Dean, Little Dewchurch, Llangarren, Llanwarne, Longhope, Lydbrook, Marstow, Mitcheldean, Much Birch, Much Dewchurch, Much Marcle, Pencoyd, Peterstow, Ryeford, Sellack, St. Weonards, Staunton, Symond's Yat, Upton Bishop, Walford, Westbury-on-Severn, Weston under Penyard, Woolhope

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