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Town centre,
looking north from Market House
Herefordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Herefordshire
Population10,700 (2011) [1]
OS grid reference SO597241
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ROSS-ON-WYE
Postcode district HR9
Dialling code 01989
Police West Mercia
Fire Hereford and Worcester
Ambulance West Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
51°54′50″N2°35′13″W / 51.914°N 2.587°W / 51.914; -2.587

Ross-on-Wye is a market town and civil parish in Herefordshire, England, near the border with Wales. It had a population estimated at 10,978 in 2021. [2] It lies in south-east of the county, on the River Wye and on the northern edge of the Forest of Dean.



The Market House in 1890 (photochrom) Market Hall, Ross-on-Wye, England-LCCN2002708080.jpg
The Market House in 1890 (photochrom)

The name "Ross" is derived from the Welsh or Celtic for a "promontory". It was renamed "Ross-on-Wye" in 1931 by the General Post Office, due to confusion with other places of the same or similar name (such as Ross in Scotland). [3]

Ross-on-Wye promotes itself as "the birthplace of British tourism". [4] In 1745, the rector, Dr John Egerton, started taking friends on boat trips down the valley from his rectory at Ross. The Wye Valley's attraction was its river scenery, its precipitous landscapes, and its castles and abbeys, which were accessible to seekers of the "picturesque". In 1782, William Gilpin's book Observations on the River Wye was published, the first illustrated tour guide to be published in Britain. Once it had appeared, demand grew so much that by 1808 there were eight boats making regular excursions along the Wye, most of them hired from inns in Ross and Monmouth. By 1850, more than 20 visitors had published their own accounts of the Wye Tour, and the area was established as a tourist destination.

Parish church

St Mary's Church, seen from the north-east St. Mary's church, Ross-on-Wye - - 1356004.jpg
St Mary's Church, seen from the north-east

The 700-year-old Church of England parish church, St Mary's, [5] is the town's most prominent landmark. Its tall pointed spire is visible when approaching the town from all directions. [6] The church holds several distinctive tombs, one of which – that of William Rudhall (who died in 1530) – is one of the last great alabaster sculptures from the specialist masons of Nottingham, whose work was prized across medieval Europe. Rudhall was responsible for the repair of the almshouses to the north west of the church, in 1575. Another tomb is of John Kyrle, a prominent figure in 18th-century Ross, whose name has been taken by the town's secondary school. He is also recalled in one of the town's notable inns, The Man Of Ross, and there is a fine painting of him, by an unknown artist, in the Corn Exchange in the High Street. [7]

United Reformed, Methodist and Baptist churches

The Methodist Church in Christ Church in Edde Cross Street has closed permanently. [8] The United Reformed Church congregation, part of the Herefordshire Group, likewise was at Christ Church. [9] The former United Reformed Church in Gloucester Road has now been converted into housing.

Ross Baptist Church is in Broad Street. [10] In 1731 the Baptists built Ryeford Chapel at Weston under Penyard, but in 1817 worshippers from Ross decided to separate. They purchased the site on Broad Street and constructed a chapel with an attached graveyard. The original chapel was replaced in 1879, with much of the funding from Thomas Blake, a local philanthropist. In 2017, the current Baptist church in Ross marked its 200th anniversary. [11]

Plague Cross

The Plague Cross Plague cross.jpg
The Plague Cross

The Plague or Corpse Cross was erected in the churchyard of St Mary's in 1637 as a memorial to 315 townsfolk who died that year of the plague and were buried nearby in a plague pit – at night and without coffins. [12]

By 1896, the Plague Cross had fallen into disrepair and the top was missing. It was later restored. Since 1952, it has been listed as a Grade II* edifice, and since 1997 it has been a scheduled monument. [13] [14]

The Prospect

The Prospect was created by John Kyrle, who rented the land from the Marquess of Bath in 1696 and turned it into a garden and walkway. [15] In 2008, heavy rain uncovered Roman remains that were excavated under the site. [16]

The Prospect provides a public garden opposite the church, containing trees dedicated to local people, a VE Day Beacon and a War Memorial. It offers a view of the famous horseshoe bend in the Wye and as far west as the Black Mountains.

Present day

The Market House Ross Market Hall.JPG
The Market House

The town is known for locally owned shops and a market square with a market hall. Thursday and Saturday markets are held at the red sandstone Market House building in the town centre. [17] [18] This was built between 1650 and 1654 to replace a probably wooden Booth Hall. The upper storey now houses an arts and crafts centre.

The town's small theatre, The Phoenix, shows films once a month, along with plays and other arts events. [19]

The ruins of Wilton Castle, to the west of the town, have been restored and opened to visitors. The town has a number of sculptures by Walenty Pytel – the left bank of the Wye shows two of these. Despite the common belief that both depict swans, one in fact shows ducks.

Politics and representation

Most local government functions are vested in Herefordshire Council, the unitary authority covering the county. Ross Town Council, with 18 councillors, six each from the Ross North, West and East wards, has the powers of a parish council. [20] The Mayor is Councillor Louis Stark. Ross Rural was merged into the civil parish on 1 April 2015. [21] Since the May 2023 local elections, the town council has a majority of Liberal Democrats (twelve), with one Conservative and five Independents.

The town is part of the Hereford and South Herefordshire parliamentary constituency, currently represented in the House of Commons by the Conservative MP Jesse Norman.


Ross-on-Wye station, with Hereford - Gloucester train in 1958 Ross-on-Wye Station, with Hereford - Gloucester train geograph-2523022-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
Ross-on-Wye station, with Hereford – Gloucester train in 1958

The former Ross-on-Wye railway station was at a junction on the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Railway north of the town. It was the terminus of the Ross & Monmouth Railway, which joined the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester just south of the station. Opened on 1 June 1855, the line was merged into the Great Western Railway on 29 July 1862 and in 1869 converted from broad gauge to standard gauge in a five-day period. A line to Tewkesbury was authorised by Parliament in 1856, but never built.

Under the Beeching cuts, the lines to Ross closed in stages up to 1964. [22] The brick station has been demolished and the site redeveloped into an industrial estate, on which the brick goods and engine sheds still stand. [23]

The nearest railway stations are in Ledbury on the Cotswold Line and Gloucester on the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway. [24]

To the east is the end of the M50, sometimes called the Ross Spur or Ross Motorway, which links with the M5.

Stagecoach West and Nick Maddy Coaches provide regular bus services. Stagecoach West operates hourly route 33 through Ross between Gloucester and Hereford, [25] while Nick Maddy Coaches operates hourly route 40 serving residential streets across town. [26] National Express also operate a twice daily service to and from London on its 445 route. [27]


Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC West Midlands and ITV Central. Television signals are received from the Ridge Hill and the local relay transmitters. [28] [29]

Local radio stations are BBC Hereford and Worcester, Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Greatest Hits Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire and Sunshine Radio.

The town is served by the local newspapers The Ross Gazette and Hereford Times . [30]


Ross-on-Wye experiences a typically British maritime climate, with mild summers and winters. A Met Office weather station provides long-term climate data for the town. Meteorological readings have been taken in Ross since 1858; the Ross-on-Wye weather station holds some national records. [31]

Climate data for Ross-on-Wye 41m asl, 1991-2020
Mean daily maximum °C (°F)8.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F)2.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)75.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54.677.1119.1166.0203.7200.5210.5189.4143.7103.663.047.11,578.3
Source: Met Office [32]

Notable people

People who were born in Ross, or have lived in the town, include:[ citation needed ]

Twin towns

Ross-on-Wye has three twin towns:

See also

Related Research Articles

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