Ledbury Poetry Festival moves into The Barret Browning Institute


We’re delighted to announce our move into the Barrett Browning Institute, a remarkable historic building in the heart of our market town, built in 1895 in memory of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning who lived at Hope End near Ledbury. It is owned by Ledbury Places whose volunteers are working tirelessly to secure the building’s future for the community.

Lockdown means that the move will be gradual. We hope to open the building to the public in Spring 2021.

Our mission

It’s our mission to enable everyone to enjoy poetry and to develop and nurture the creative use of language. Given the poetic heritage of Ledbury, our vision is that our town will continue to be seen as the home of poetry – welcoming everyone, developing creativity, changing lives.

Our aim is that the space will become a flexible home throughout the year for our Community and Education outreach programmes. The building will also offer us the chance to develop pioneering projects such as Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics, and new digital initiatives including poetry workshops online.

A diverse range of sources provide our main funding and we are very grateful to every trust, charitable foundation and individual sponsor for supporting the Festival’s valuable work. If Ledbury Poetry Festival is to occupy this Barrett Browning Institute (BBI) for the long-term, then it will be vital to work closely with Ledbury Places to raise capital funding to fully renovate and refurbish the building.


Ledbury Poetry Festival runs a year round Community Programme which provides cultural enrichment to the most vulnerable groups in our society. The community programme not only develops literacy and communication skills, but also provides a lifeline for isolated people – whether through age, disability, poverty, mental or physical illness. Through the community programme  we aim to reach those who would not ordinarily attend or have the opportunity to attend an arts-related activity, so that they may enjoy the benefits to their health, well being and life skills that poetry and creativity give.

We’re proud to be partnered with many organisations throughout the county including residential care settings, Herefordshire Mind, and Queenswood Country Park.

Local impact:

These sessions help me to deal with social anxiety and depression

An excellent thing to have these sessions on offer in my neighbourhood.

I came to poetry as a way of expressing how I felt after a very serious illness. It has been of very great assistance.

A good activity to express feelings and emotions.

Fantastic – so beneficial.

Take a look at some of our Community projects here https://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/community-programme/

Learning and Education

Throughout the year, we work with local schools and teachers to develop and nurture a love for language, creative writing and literacy. We do this through poet workshops (both in interesting locations and in schools), special readings and performances, poetry trails, classroom activities plus inset sessions for teachers.

‘The children absolutely loved the poetry trail workshops. The vast majority of them have grown up in Ledbury and had walked past many of the buildings they visited but had never been inside. They were thrilled to learn about the history of their home town – many went home and shared their knowledge with their families. They can’t wait to perform their poems to their families and friends on Friday, and what a great idea to perform them on location!’ — Teacher, Ledbury Primary School

“I learned today that you use your imagination all the time.” – Darcey, a pupil who attended one of our poetry workshops

Take a look at some of recent projects with Schools here https://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/schools-programme/


The Barrett Browning building will help us to bring new people to poetry, welcoming and attracting a wide range of audience groups — local, poetry audiences and international. Having a permanent space will allow us to develop our digital output, an important step in reaching and engaging with people from diverse backgrounds.


We want to ensure that the building is accessible for everyone, and for the specific needs of people with disabilities. Ledbury Places who own the Barrett Browning Institute have already made a significant improvements, including installing a new accessible entrance from the High Street.

We work closely with local communities and visitors with additional access needs, such as deaf and visually impaired audiences. This includes a mix of introductory short sessions and some longer term projects with partner groups.


Celebrating 25 years of Ledbury Poetry Festival, 2 – 11 July 2021 will be a hybrid event, with online readings and discussions, open mics and a slam, as well as lots of outdoor and socially distanced happenings in and around Ledbury. The BBI  can be used as a workshop and hospitality space.

For more information about our move into the BBI building, please contact Chloe Garner, Ledbury Poetry Festival Director on director@poetry-festival.co.uk


Hard at work cleaning and decorating
Hard at work cleaning and decorating
A team of volunteers clean and decorate
A team of volunteers clean and decorate
BBI newly decorated ready to welcome the public.
Newly decorated ready to welcome the public.
Poetry decorating the walls.
Poetry decorating the walls.