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Ross-on-Wye

Notable Citizens

There are several notable citizens from the area and many of these are immortalised by monuments both within the church and churchyard.

Edmund Ironside

During the Norman period Ross was a manor belonging to the Bishops of Hereford and was originally presented to them by Edmund Ironside. Legend says that Ross is the place where the Saxon king Edmund II (known as Edmund Ironside) died from a traitor's wounds in 1016. He is best known for his fierce defence of England against the massive invading army of the Danish king Canute. During this time England was divided between the two kings, Edmund held the west and Wessex while Canute ruled in the north and east.

The Kings Demise

The legend of his downfall says that a servant hatched a plan to murder him in return for a reward from Canute. The King had a big house at Minsterworth in Gloucestershire and the servant secretly and carefully positioned a sharpened stake in the king's latrine. Then, as Edmund lowered himself to use his toilet, the servant quickly withdrew the candle and plunged Edmund into darkness and this resulted in him being impaled. The king was rushed away to a monastery in search of aid but died of his wounds when he reached Ross. The servant then presented himself at Canute's court and claimed the murder. Canute then reputedly had him hanged from the highest oak that he could find.

Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside
(Click for a larger image)

John Kyrle

John Kyrle Ross-on-Wye
Carving of John Kyrle on Kyrle House.
(Click for a larger image)

John Kyrle (1637-1724), known as the "Man of Ross", was a 18th Century philanthropist and he was one of the major benefactor's of the Town although he has possibly been equalled by Thomas Blake. He was renowned for his modest lifestyle and charity work and regularly used to help the poor and the sick. He also helped to design Ross and left many marks on the town, for example, in 1700, the "Prospect" walk, and Ross is one of the first recorded attempts in the county to beautify a town for the benefit of all the people.


He was educated at the Grammar School, Gloucester and then trained as Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied Law. Unfortunately he left and did not qualify and having inherited the family property looking over the Market Square in Ross he decided to live there and provide services to the town.

His work was immortalised by the eighteenth century English poet, Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who was a frequent visitor to nearby Holme Lacey, in his "Moral Essays".
[ more details]

The postcard image to the right (published by Ross Gazette Ltd.) shows John Kyrle "The Man of Ross" probably taken from a wood cut or steel engraving.

John Kyrle the Man of Ross
A postcard of John Kyrle
[Published by Ross Gazette Ltd.]
(Click for a larger image)

In the third Moral Epistle (an essay), his Epistle to Bathurst (1732), Alexander Pope eulogised John Kyrle and Ross by saying:


Who taught that heav’n directed Spire to rise?
The Man of Ross, each lisping babe replies.
Behold the Market-place with poor o'erspread!
The Man of Ross divides the weekly bread; He feeds yon Alms-house, neat, but void of state,
Where Age and Want sit smiling at the gate;
Him portion’d maids, apprentic’d orphans blest,
The young who labour, and the old who rest.
Is any sick? the Man of Ross relieves,
Prescribes, attends, the med’cine makes, and gives,
Is there a variance? enter but his door,
Balk’d are the Courts, and contest is no more.
Despairing Quacks with curses fled the place,
And vile Attornies, now an useless race.


John Kyrles Chair
Chair & Portrait of John Kyrle, "The Man of Ross"
[Published by Tilley & Son, Ledbury]
(Click for a larger image)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1722-1834) stayed in Kyrle House in 1794 after it became the King's Arms Inn and he mentioned John Kyrle in a short poem he wrote at about the same time called The Man of Ross.

Other famous literary figures who are known to have stayed in Ross include, in 1807, the poet Robert Bloomfield (1766-1832) and, in 1867, Charles Dickens (1812-1870).


The Rudhall family

The Rudhall family is commemorated with a number of spectacular monuments at the top end of the South Aisle in the church. William Rudhall's (died 1530) tomb is one of the last great alabaster sculptures from the specialist masons of Nottingham, whose work was prized right across medieval Europe.

Walter Scott

Walter Scott Charity School Ross-on-Wye
What was once the Walter Scott Charity School
(Click for a larger image)

There is a monument to Walter Scott in the churchyard and he established education for children if Ross-on-Wye. Walter Scott was a native of Ross but was forced to leave due to poverty after being educated in the Blue Coat Charity school, an infants School in Arthur's Lane (now known as Old Gloucester Road).

This had obviously left a great impression on the man as when he died, Dec. 4th, 1786 aged 70, he had no dependents but "using his education" gained in the school, he had become quite wealthy so he gave his fortune to the school in which he felt indebted.


Thomas Blake

Thomas Blake was the M.P. for the borough of Leominster and in 31st of July 1873, he gave to the people of Ross "The Ross Free Library, Reading-Room, and Recreation-Grounds" situated in Broad street. This was a two storey building which was well furnished, lighted and ventilated with news and refreshment rooms on the ground-floor, and reading-room, book-room, chess-room on first floor. The reading-room contained London and local newspapers, periodicals which were regularly updated. The library contained about 1,000 volumes. At the back were recreation-grounds with a gymnasium, croquet and bowling lawns. There was also a 'modern' lavatory with all the modern comforts of the time. [ more... ]


Nathaniel Morgan

Nathaniel Morgan was a Quaker banker and businessman and was influential in the development of Ross, to this end he became Mayor three times in the early 1800's. He lived his entire life at the Friends Place near the Market House. He was born in 1775 and died in 1854.

He is possibly best known for starting a non-denominational school in the upper part of the Market House in 1799, to improve the future of the children in Ross and he later became a patron of the British and Foreign School and was involved in a great number of the reforms in Ross that happened during his life. He also campaigned against slavery and income taxes resulting in him having several run-ins with the tax office and the law.




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1 Ross Gazette - 29/3/2001 - Article: "Thomas Blake"
2 Western Daily Press - 2/11/1965 - Article: "Kate plods on almost alone"
3 Ross Gazette - 25/5/1983 - Article: "Ross 'character' dies"
4 Crossroads Fan Club - 19/12/2009 - Article: " Backstage stories"
5 Hereford Times - 5/5/1988 - Article: "Tireless worker for Town"


[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]






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