All about Ombersley
PUBLISHED: 17:07 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 02:29 06 February 2013
This ancient village is packed with the best places to eat and drink and has some wonderful food shops. Oh, and it's also steeped in history
All about Ombersley
What do a multi-million pound stock-broking business, a family butcher, a delightful restaurant or two, and a plague stone, have in common?
Theyre all to be found in the village of Ombersley.
The multi-million business in question is the Worcestershire office of EFG Harris Allday, stockbrokers. Previously Harris Allday, the company dates back to 1834 and was acquired by EFG Private Bank Limited in July 2006. The company manages hundreds of millions of pounds worth of deals every year from its offices tucked away in Church Mews. Looking at the half-timbered Elizabethan and Jacobean houses that line Ombersleys main street the casual visitor would be astonished to find that multi-million deals are being conducted from the heart of this not-so sleepy Worcestershire village.
Just up the road from EFG Harris Allday, a slightly younger family business operates from Church Villa. Checketts of Ombersley is a butchers shop with a national reputation. People come from miles around just for the sausages, although in a stroke of absolute genius the company now has an online ordering service so if you cant get to the shop in person those wonderful sausages, pies and locally-reared meat, are just a mouse click away.
Checketts have been in the meat business since 1902 when the 21-year-old Thomas G. Checketts opened his first shop in Wyre Piddle. The business moved to Worcester in 1911 and then to Ombersley in 1925. In 2007 the shop opened a fresh fish counter which has brought this land-locked county fresh fish and shellfish caught in British waters (and also available online).
The villagers of Ombersley must be the best fed in the county. Not only do they have Checketts but theres a really good bakery (described by one of our readers as having the best wholemeal bread theyve tasted) and Ombersley Wines and Delicatessen (you cant miss it, it has a lovely display of fresh fruit and veg outside). The deli is almost overwhelming in its choice of wonderful cheeses and nibbles. Theres a good range of wine, and lots of local tipples too.
If you want something to go with all that good food and drink, how about a new kitchen? The Gallery is where the 21-year-old company Kitchens by Design is based. As a SieMatic kitchen supplier these really are top of the range. Look out for one of their cookery demos when you can sample local goodies cooked by a top chef.
Wander down the main street and you wont fail to notice that there are an awful lot of pubs and restaurants crammed into this little village. The Kings Head dates back to the 15th century and is where King Charles is said to have stopped after the Battle of Worcester. Nowadays its a friendly pub where: Children of all ages are very welcome at the pub as long as they keep their parents under control and don't allow them to run around shouting! Dogs are welcome if they keep their owners on a lead.
The Crown and Sandys just up the road has recently been refurbished and now has three restaurants with quite different atmospheres, and seven bedrooms. The Venture In, run by chef Toby Fletcher, is a small cosy restaurant which serves sublime food. Elsewhere, theres The Cross Keys which is a more traditional-style pub with good food.
The plague stone is also a link
with food and drink, although not so pleasant as we have discussed so far. Plague stones were often found in villages near to the areas where those who had been infected were isolated. The plague victims would leave money (disinfected in vinegar) to pay for the food left for them by the other villagers. Ombersleys plague stone is to be found on the small green to the north of the roundabout in the village.
Did you know?
Ombersley was once owned by the abbey at Evesham.
In 1086 there were a fishery and a half at Ombersley yielding 2,000 eels.
Doctor Johnson visited Ombersley in 1774 when he stayed with Lord Sandys at Ombersley Court. He said: We were treated with great civility. Later, a friend of Dr Johnsons, the Italian musician Gabriele Piozzi, wrote that he had heard Dr Johnson protest that he never had quite so much as he wished of wall fruit except once in his life when we were all together at Ombersley.
The parish of Ombersley was once part of the ancient Wyre Forest. Around 1229, the area was deforested to make way for fields. In 1905 Ombersley contained 3,291 acres of arable land, 3,082 acres of permanent grass and 223 acres of woodland. Local history books record: Agriculture is now the principal industry, but some women and girls were, in the middle of the 19th century, engaged in glove-making and slopwork for Worcester tradesmen.
(From Parishes: Ombersley. A History of the County of Worcester: volume 3 (1913), pp. 460-468.)
In 1814, Ombersley raised funds for "...erecting a new Church, and enlarging the Church Yard; and also, for building a Workhouse for the Poor". The workhouse was situated in Hog Lane (renamed Hill Top Lane), where the building survives as Hill Top House.
In 1354 the Abbots of Evesham were granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair in Ombersley. A cross once stood at the crossroads on the southern end of the village marking the market place.
The Manor of Ombersley first came into the Sandys familys possession in the late-16th century. Ombersley Court was built in 1724 for the first Lord Sandys. The family also built the current St Andrews church and the Crown and Sandys hotel.
At the end of the 19th century Ombersley had schools, several public houses, blacksmiths, carpenters, builders, butchers, greengrocers, doctors and tailors in the village. Remnant shop windows can still be seen at the Venture In and The Gallery.
EFG Harris Allday, Tel: 01905 619499 www.efgha.com
Checketts of Ombersley, Tel: 01905 620284 www.checketts.co.uk
Ombersley Wines & Delicatessen, Tel: 01905 620580
Kitchens by Design, Tel: 01905 621038 www.kitchensbydesign.co.uk