A walk through Ross

May 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm (Anglophilia, books, Mystery fiction, To Britain and back 2011, Travel)

Upon our return from Hereford, we were invited to take a walking tour of Ross on Wye, the pretty market town that was to be our headquarters while we explored the Wye Valley region. You cannot be in Ross for long without hearing about John Kyrle (1637-1724).. Called “the Man of Ross” by Alexander Pope, Kyrle was a wealthy and selfless benefactor whose philanthropy improved immensely the lives of Ross’s inhabitants. His legacy can be found throughout the town.

Kyrle was instrumental in establishing The Prospect, a lovely park overlooking the Wye River:

The Church of St. Mary  the Virgin dates from the early 1300’s. Built on one of the highest points in town, its spire can be seen for miles around:

The Plague Cross commemorates the 315 citizens of Ross who died of the Plague in 1637. The victims were buried in a “plague pit” nearby, at night and without coffins:

Ross has a beautifully preserved Market House. It was built between 1650 and 1654 and replaced an older structure, probably made of wood.

The Market House in 1890

The Markel House as we first saw it, earlier this month

This trip was very much about books, and little Ross on Wye, population just over 10,000 according to 2001 census figures, boasts two independent bookstores, one new and one used.

  In Ross Old Books I found Make Death Love Me, the first novel I ever read by Ruth Rendell.  Lately I’ve been wanting to revisit it, but this wish has been frustrated by the fact that the local library no longer owns it and it’s out of print to boot.    Along with others on the tour, I enjoyed browsing in Rossiter’s. Phil Rickman had told us that he’d dropped several copies of his titles off there recently, so we took full advantage of that fact!     Here’s a short piece on the shop that appeared last month in The Telegraph.

Wyenotccom is a very rich source for information on the Wye Valley. The site features plenty of visuals, including these videos of the May Day celebrations that take place each year on May Hill, a prominent landmark between Gloucester and Ross on Wye:


This map shows the location of Ross on Wye, as well as Hereford, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Monmouth, and Bristol, all of which were visited by us on this trip. (Click to enlarge.)

If you’re confused as to where the border between Wales and England is, so were we for much of the trip. But as we wove our way through the Welsh border country, we did see signs such as this from time to time:

The first sighting caused me to cry out and clap my hands: a first, and a beautiful new country for us!


  1. Elizabeth said,


    I have really enjoyed reading about your trip! Your pictures are amazing!

    I can’t wait to read about your Agatha Christie tours!

    Did you go with a group from your hometown or did you join a tour group of people from around the US?


    • Roberta Rood said,

      Thanks, Elizabeth. The pictures are mostly – but not entirely! – ours.

      We went with a University of Wisconsin alumnus group. the URL is http://www.britishmysterytrips.com. If you love literature, history, and Britain, this is the trip to take!

      BTW – Your site is lovely.

      • Elizabeth said,

        Thank you, Roberta!

        I can’t wait to read more from your trip!


  2. Demie said,

    Those are wonderful pictures! I `ve been to Wales some years ago – to Cardiff and the country side- and I remember the …. the Trees! Such trees as the ones in The Lord of The Rings ….. I walked my way through Wales looking up : )

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Thanks, Demie. The pictures are mostly, but not entirely, ours!

  3. Yvette said,

    I got a little misty reading and looking, Roberta. I travelled to Great Britain many years ago – three of the happiest weeks of my life. We took a short trip to Wales, but most of our time was spent in England and Scotland. I always thought I’d get a chance to go back but I never did.

    Love visiting with you vicariously though. What wonderful photographs. Just lovely.

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