In 1055, the Welsh thronged over the border and attacked Hereford, and Harold Godwinson was appointed to sort things out. He managed to push the Welsh back as far as Radnor, and then promptly dispossessed many of the surrounding land owners, dividing the spoils between himself, the king and some of his officers in the army. The settlement became known as the king’s town and eventually Kington. By 1287, Kington had spread further down the hill, close to where the present centre is.

Edward I granted six fairs, and the Whit Monday Fair was the biggest and jolliest, but the other five were more seriously for stock.

The Whetstone

Close to the summit of Hergest Ridge, immediately to the west of the church, is a rock known as the Whetstone, which it was said went down to the Hindwell Brook at the bottom of the Ridge every time it heard a cock crow. It is thought that during the plague of 1366 a weekly market was held at the stone, where wheat (whet) was put onto the stone by farmers from the surrounding area, who would then back off to allow the townspeople to collect it and leave their money in exchange…..this was in an effort to avoid infection.

The market hall in the town had two floors, with the top room being used for sales of wool, and the ground floor for dairy goods and poultry.

The Rebecca Toll Gate Riots

Kington, along with Ledbury, was one of the few places in the county to suffer the Rebecca toll gate riots of the 1830s, which arose because locals were angry over being forced to pay for everyday journeys such as to and from the market. Frequently the protestors were men disguised as women, and they even blacked their faces so that nobody could recognise them as they burnt or dismantled the toll gates. (the name ~Rebecca~ might have come from Genesis “the descendant of Rebecca will possess the gates of them that hate them”. Drovers roads gradually came into existence, and these bypassed the hated toll houses which still are plentiful throughout Herefordshire although of course no longer used for the original purpose.

Kington had a thriving clothing industry at one time, but this declined after the late 18th century, and eventually the cloth mills were demolished. There was also a glove industry, but in the mid 1800s cheaper French gloves were being imported and this hit the Kington glove makers hard.

By 1845 there were 4 corn mills, an iron foundry and a tanning industry.

Churches of Kington

Buildings in Kington

  • Kington Union Workhouse

    Kingswood
    There was a small workhouse in Kington according to a report in 1771, but a later bigger workhouse was built in 1837. The building became a nursing home in 1962 and now, much altered, it is used as offices for a housing association.

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  • Hergest Court

    This fifteenth century manor house sits a couple of miles from Kington, and originally had a moat.  It underwent some alterations over the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries

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News from the Past Kington