4A Bye St History
The address of Ledbury Methodist Church is 4a Bye Street, a corner property at the junction of Bye Street and the entrance to a very convenient (free on Sunday) car park! Bye Street itself has ecclesiastical connections as it was originally called Bishop Street, a name first recorded in 1288 and so called because (it is believed) the Bishop of Hereford owned land here. The name Bye Street first appears in 1668 but Bye Street and Bishop Street seem to have then been interchangeable for almost 200 years, and it was only in the late 19th century that Bye Street won out.
The church is on part of site which used to be a tannery on the north side of Bye Street. It is not known when the tannery was first built, but it was there in the 18th century, owned by the Hankins family before passing to the Mutlow family for most of the 19th century. Several generations later, the surviving owner – Joseph Mutlow – did not have much interest in that line of business and, in 1892, sold it to a Mr C W Stephens. And, most interestingly, those initials (C W) stand for Charles Wesley! It is not known if Mr Stephens had Methodist roots or perhaps even attended the old Methodist Church in The Homend, but it would be a delightful twist of history if he did!
The plot of land occupied by the tannery did not quite extend to The Homend – there was a half- timbered, but rather dilapidated, house on the corner itself, but after that came the tanning works and then the large drying area which would have been needed for the leather to hang and dry – dark enough to stop sunlight spoiling the leather, but with louvred windows to allow some air movement to gently help the drying process – and it is on this old drying area that Ledbury Methodist Church now stands.