The Barrett Browning Institute
With its imposing Gothic clock tower, the Barrett Browning Institute has become an iconic landmark on Ledbury’s High Street. The building, funded by public subscription in 1895, was originally intended to be a simple clock tower commemorating the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning who had lived in the town and was arguably Ledbury’s most celebrated resident. However, architect Brightwen Binyon, winner of the competition to design the memorial, had a greater ambition for the project. The charitable trust established to maintain the building insisted that it should be:
“for the purpose of libraries, reading rooms, lecture rooms, classrooms, museums and any other purposes for the advancement of knowledge, literature, science and art among the people of Ledbury and the neighbourhood thereof, and the general public”.
For many years, the building was indeed home to the town’s library. Now, with the town’s library housed in the renovated Master’s House, it is perhaps even more fitting that the Barrett Browning Institute should be home to the prestigious Ledbury Poetry Festival. Now the building, often called the Poetry House, is a thriving cultural and artistic hub hosting a wide array of events and workshops. It is hoped that through our partnership with the festival we will be able to source additional funding to restore the building and make it accessible to all.