A History of Burgage Hall

Burgage Hall was built as a Congregational Church in 1852, but by the 1950s it had fallen into disuse. The Society restored the chapel in 1985. It is available to hire and is used for meetings, parties, exhibitions and events. Find out more about hiring Burgage Hall.

Why is it called Burgage Hall?

Burgage Hall got its name from the ‘burgage plots’ on which many of Ledbury’s buildings stand.

A burgage plot was a strip of land in a medieval town. The land was owned by the lord of the manor and allocated to the town’s freemen – men who were entitled to practise a trade and elect members of the town’s ruling council. An owner of a burgage plot was called a burgess. He paid rent to the lord of the manor, usually in money, but sometimes in services.

Where a town was developed along a single main street or a long market (as in Ledbury), frontages were at a premium, so the plots were long and narrow. Ledbury has many alleyways off High Street and The Homend. The alleys were the ways to get from the street to the back of the plot.

Owning a burgage often gave you the right to vote. A burgage could be freely bought and sold. It could also be transferred for the period of an election to a nominee. It was therefore possible for a very few people (and sometimes just one person) to purchase the majority of the burgages in a town and therefore have the absolute power to nominate the members of Parliament. Most burgage boroughs became pocket (or rotten) boroughs in this way. The practice was abolished in the Reform Act of 1832.