Falcon Hotel, Bromyard 01885 483034
The Falcon Hotel has been an important building in the centre of the very ancient Town of Bromyard for a long time now. In the early 16th century Bromyard Town itself was a very dilapidated place prompting the Bishop of Hereford to make funds available for it to be rebuilt. At the same time King Henry VIII was on route to the dissolution of monasteries in the Reformation. So at round 1535 The Falcon first came to be but not as an inn.
To start it was probably a 2 storey building with a good cellar and reasonably high ceilings. The roof was thatch on a cruck construction frame. The grand main room on the first floor had, as now, a medieval fireplace, fancy plaster ceiling and oak panelled walls that may have come from elsewhere. There is also evidence of a second grand fireplace in the corridor to room 2, at the same level and opposite the Oak Room fireplace on the same chimney stack.
Some time later in the 17th century, the roof was changed to slated or tiled with a shallower pitch and raised a little to accomodate another storey with much less ceiling height and it may have become an inn at that time. Some people think that the building was also extended at the rear at that time into what is now the bar and rear entrance. However the whole of the early part including the extension is half timbered although the rear has been clad in brick.
Then came the ballroom block, probably in the mid 18th century. Before it was built, there seems to have been a ground floor passageway from Broad Street between The Falcon and its neighbour building. This is now the Broad Street ballroom entrance. Probably at the same time the whole of the old part was encased in lath and plaster which was then taken down in the early 20th century.
The other building in the plot is the old cinema that runs along Pump Street. I seems that in Victorian times this had been a couple stable blocks with a capacity for around 60 horses, with a hay loft above and an Ostlers at the end nearest to the Falcon. When that trade died it was turned into a garage. Then, in the last days of February 1947, the corrugated steel roof of the Town cinema (where the police station now is) collapsed under the weight of snow. In the emergency the Falcon ballroom was used as a temporary cinema while the Plaza rose from the old garages. This was in use from 1949 until 1979 after which it became a night club and snooker venue, then abandoned. Now it is to be a special venue once more.
From the early times, Bromyard has been an important ecclesiastical place. The Church is very old and has seen many developments. Looking at the street map you can see that the roads encircle the Church. It was also an important coaching stop being 14 miles or less from Hereford, Leominster, Tenbury Wells, Worcester, Malvern adn Ledbury. As well as the Falcon the coaching inns were the Bay Horse, The Hop Pole, The Queens, The Kings and others, sporting hundreds of horses between them.
What did The Flacon replace in those far off days? We don't know but it must have been a significant building. While doing some work to the bar in 2005, we uncovered part of a 12th century pillar which seems to have been used as part of a fire place at some time and also spent many years exposed to the elements. This lends credence to the fireplace in the Oak Room being in its original, 12th century position. In the cellar the foundations are clearly from an earlier building, being more that a yard wide and tapered to boot, so much too substantial for a lightweight half timbered structure. Perhaps if we dug down further we would find details of one of the missing Bromyard buildings, The Bishops Palace, The Monastery, The Nunnery or even something else. To this end, the Bromyard History Society is looking for funds to do a dimensional survey of a number of selected premises including The Falcon. So watch this space.