Walk 113: Tenbury Wells: A beautiful town

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.99 miles (3.2km)

Time to walk: Only about 1 hour, but this is a town ‘stroll & take your time’ walk so it could be half a day as Tenbury Wells is so lovely

Difficulty: Flat & all on hard surfaces

Parking: We parked in Tesco’s car park , but be careful of the time restrictions

Public toilets: Cafes etc en route

Map of the route: 

Go to work in Tenbury Wells they said.

Tenbury…that’s Wales isn’t it we said? No…they said that’s Tenby

Oh, ok then Wells, that’s near Bath isn’t it? No they said

So exactly where is Tenbury Wells. Well….it’s in one of the most fabulous areas of this country, near Ludlow on the Welsh border & we urge you to go & visit as soon as possible as this is a fabulous little town & one we’d definitely move to tomorrow – it’s that good!!

It’s actually a small market town in the north-western extremity of the Malvern Hills laying on the south bank of the River Teme, which forms the border between Shropshire & Worcestershire

From 1894 to 1974, it was a rural district taking in villages such as Stoke Bliss, Eastham & Rochford. From 1974 Tenbury was in the District of Leominster until it became part of Malvern Hills District when Leominster District Council was taken over by Herefordshire Council in April 1998

The history of Tenbury Wells extends as far back as the Iron Age. The town is often thought of as the home to the Castle Tump, but this is now in Burford, Shropshire due to boundary changes. Though the Tump, possibly the remains of an early Norman motte & bailey castle, can be seen from the main road, there are no visible remains of the castle that was constructed to defend & control the original River Teme crossing

Originally named “Temettebury”, the town was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market in 1249. Over time, the name changed to “Tenbury” & then added the “Wells” following the discovery of mineral springs & wells in the town in the 1840s. The name of the railway station, which was on the now defunct Tenbury & Bewdley Railway, was changed in 1912, in an attempt to publicise the mineral water being produced from the wells around the town

For over 100 years Tenbury has been well known throughout the country for its winter auctions of holly & mistletoe. As said…we loved it, so shall we have a stroll?

Let’s walk!

1. This town walk starts, conveniently in a car park in Teme Street. In reality it starts on the bridge over the famous Kyre Brook, which we’ll hear more about later – today it was quite sedate…

Walk towards the extremely ornate Pump Rooms. Built in 1862 to promote the town as a spa for the working classes, the Pump Rooms have been described as ‘Chinese Gothic’ & were designed by James Cranston of Birmingham after some greenhouses he had designed, replacing the glass by wrought iron sheets. It was one of the earliest examples of prefabrication, with the sheets being made in Birmingham & assembled on site

The building became derelict at the end of the 20th century but, thanks to a grant, was fully restored for the Millennium & now takes the form of a community hall, a Register Office for weddings etc & the office of the Tenbury Town Clerk. The remains of the 58ft well can be seen inside the base of the tower

2. At the end of the path’s the Crow public house, the main building of which dates back to the 1700s with the side ones a later addition to accommodate visitors to the spa…

It might be called The Crow, but there’s a cockerel on top indicating it’s named after the call of the cockerel. It used to have lots of stabling as it was a coaching inn

3. Turn left down Market street…

…where there are reminders of the flood of July 2007, when the Kyre Brook & river Teme rose 15 times above their normal levels. Due to heavy & persistent rain in the Midlands on 24th & 25th June, the Teme area experienced almost a months rain in just two days

On 17th July a severe thunderstorm overwhelmed the drainage system & 15mm of rain was recorded in one hour

The new toilets show the levels the water reached – the old ones had to be demolished. They were designed to look like a hop kiln as this is a hop growing area

4. Over the road’s the impressive Royal Oak, which is one of the town’s oldest public houses & was once the main coaching inn on the route from London to the North. The name refers to King Charles II who hid in an oak tree after the Battle of Worcester in 1651

5. Next along Market Street’s The Market Tavern

…behind which is the magnificent Round Market (which is actually oval!), built by James Cranston in 1858. Originally called the Butter Market, it was built to enable farmers’ wives to sell their butter & poultry inside, whilst the walls kept out the winds & rain

We’ll come back for a closer look later in this walk

6. Pass the very attractive Market House…

…& follow the road round to the left

There’s another old pub here which dates back to the 1600s, the King’s Head. There was a brewery on this site since 1835 & beer was brewed here until 1926

7. Just past the pub on the right’s the imposing Cornwall House, built in 1709 by Francis Cornwall, 16th Baron of Burford

Over the road’s 43-49 Cross Street which was built for the Tenbury National School

8. Almost next door is a sign directing you to the delightful Tenbury Museum, which was originally home to the Victorian Goff’s Free School, founded in 1816

Mr Goff was born in Hereford, but moved to London where he made his fortune as a coal merchant. He left money in his will to found a number of free schools in Herefordshire & surrounding counties for the education of poor children

The school was run on Baptist principles, which caused considerable friction with the Church of England. Chapel services were held in the building on Sundays until the present Baptist Church was built. In 1977 it was renovated for use as a museum by Tenbury & District Museum Society

9. Continue up Cross Street, where at the corner we arrive at another lovely property, & pub, Pembroke House

There was once a tollhouse on this site, but the current property was built as a farmhouse in the 16th century. It was then owned by Pembroke College Oxford, before they sold it in 1889. It usage then changed to that of a cider house, known for its extremely potent brews. In the 1930s it changed again to become a traditional pub, more like the one we see today

10. Facing the pub, turn round 180 degrees, cross the road & walk up the narrow alley into Berrington Gardens…

At the top turn left & walk down to the bottom of the road, turning right into Berrington Road

The house on the left, with the remnants of a dovecote, is called ‘Longwater’ & was built in 1681 with long bricks from the brickyard in Bromyard Road. A sign informs us that “a staircase led to three bedrooms in the attic with straw mattresses used by casual workers”

11. Continue to the right…this is a really lovely area of the town

On the left’s the Gate House…

12. At the end turn left into Cross Street once more, to arrive back at The Market Taven & the Round Market

13. Passing the Round Market, we’re now entering Church Street…

…where just here on the left’s the extremely impressive Holland House which was built in the 18th century & purchased by the Holland family (hence the name)

14. St Mary’s Church is directly ahead…

Before arriving there, on the left are some buildings that look like garages. They were first used as the town mortuary, next the fire station until 1936 & then a meeting room

Now let’s have a look at St Mary’s which was a Norman church built in the 12th century. This was pretty much all destroyed by a flood in 1770 & today only the lower part of the Norman tower remains. Most of the current church was built in Victorian times

15. Walk through the churchyard…

…to exit through the gate on the right, crossing straight over down the narrow alley

16. At the end of the alley we’re back in Teme Street once more. The building we walked alongside is the fabulous Regal Cinema. Turn left to look at its Art Deco style

The Regal Cinema opened on Thursday July 29th 1937 & was completely refurbished in 2012. It apparently has some incredible Italian murals inside the auditorium

17. Turn right down down Teme Street where, if you fancy stopping for a beer, on the right’s The Vaults

Cross over & walk back down the other side to arrive at No.18, Tenbury House, which was the home of Dr Henry Hill Hickman who was the earliest pioneer of anesthesia by inhalation. He experimented & practised in this building

18. Almost next door’s Bedford Dials which was originally the Corn Exchange & designed by the same person that designed the Pump Rooms & the Round Market, James Cranston

19. Now head back up Teme Street past the cinema & the Ship Inn which was built in the 17th century but, at the start of the 1800s was split into two separate properties, the inn & a blacksmiths. Later in 1879, it was changed into the way it looks today…

Before we arrive at the bridge, on the other side of the road’s Temeside House which was built in 1837 as the town’s workhouse with accommodation for 70 people. Their main task was to break up Clee Hill rock for use on roads & cutting up railway sleepers for firewood

20. Keep straight onto the bridge to have a closer look at the river…

The River Teme rises in Mid Wales, south of Newtown & flows through Knighton where it crosses the border into England down to Ludlow in Shropshire on its way to join the Severn south of Worcester

The bridge at Tenbury Wells was rebuilt by Thomas Telford following flood damage in 1795

21. Our route should take us down the path beside the river next to Temeside House but, when we were there, it was closed so we walked down towards Tesco where we could join it once more

Keep going until reaching the Burgage Recreation Ground. In Medieval times a Burgage was a piece of land rented from a King or Lord

22. At the end of this stretch’s a rather spectacular shelter which makes the point where the Kyre Brook reaches the Teme river…

At the shelter we turn right to return to the start of this walk

So that’s our quick look at the beautiful, & very friendly, town of Tenbury Wells. We think we could live there as it has some amazing walking countryside & friendly locals

Why not go & see what you think…

Go Walk!