The Falcon Hotel has been an important building in the centre of the very ancient Town of Bromyard for a long time now. In the early 16th century Bromyard Town itself was a very dilapidated place, possibly as a result of the plague, prompting the Bishop of Hereford to instruct that it be rebuilt. At the same time King Henry VIII was on route to the dissolution of monasteries in the Reformation. So at round 1535 The Falcon first came to be but perhaps not as an inn.
To start it was probably a 2 storey building with a good cellar and high ceilings. The roof was thatch on a steep pitched frame. The grand main room on the first floor had, as now, a medieval fireplace, fancy plaster ceiling and oak panelled walls that may have come from elsewhere. There is also evidence of a second grand fireplace in the corridor to room 2, at the same level and opposite the Oak Room fireplace as well as the one in the lounge bar beneath it, all on the same chimney stack.
Some time later in the 17th century, the roof was changed to slated or tiled with a shallower pitch and raised a little to accommodate another storey with much less ceiling height, very clear in rooms 6 to 10, and it may have become an inn at that time. Some people think that the building was also extended at the rear at that time into what is now the bar and rear entrance. However the whole of the early part including the extension is half timbered although the rear has been clad in brick.
Then came the ballroom block, opened with great ceremony in 1760. Before it was built, there seems to have been a ground floor passageway from Broad Street between The Falcon and its neighbour building perhaps to the well beyond. This is now the Broad Street ballroom entrance. Probably at the same time the whole of the old part was encased in lath and plaster which was then taken down in the 20th century.
The other building in the plot is the old cinema that runs along Pump Street. Its age is unknown but it had been two adjacent buildings which were joined together to make a stable with a capacity for around 60 horses, a hay loft above and an Ostlers at the end nearest to the Falcon. When that trade died it was turned into a garage. Then, in the last days of February 1947, the corrugated steel roof of the Town cinema (where the police station now is) collapsed under the weight of snow. In the emergency the Falcon ballroom was used as a temporary cinema while the Plaza rose from the old garages. This was in use from 1949 until 1979 after which it became a night club and snooker venue, then abandoned. Now it is a special venue once more, a dramatic medieval hall complete with musicians gallery and featuring the ancient roof trusses.
From the early times, Bromyard has been an important ecclesiastical place. The Church is very old and has seen many developments. Looking at the street map you can see that the roads encircle the Church. It was also an important coaching stop being 14 miles or less from Hereford, Leominster, Tenbury Wells, Worcester, Malvern and Ledbury. As well as the Falcon the coaching inns were the Bay Horse, The Hop Pole, The Queens, The Kings and others, sporting hundreds of horses between them.
What did The Falcon replace in those far off days? We don’t know but it must have been a significant building. While doing some work to the bar in 2005, we uncovered part of a 12th century pillar which seems to have been part of a fire place at some time and also spent some years exposed to the elements. This lends credence to the fireplace in the Oak Room being in its original, 12th century position. In the cellar the foundations are clearly from an earlier building, being more that a yard wide and tapered to boot, so much too substantial for a lightweight half timbered structure. Perhaps if we dug down further we would find details of one of the missing Bromyard buildings, The Monastery, The Nunnery or even something else. The Bromyard History Society has carried out a lot of work on filling in the unknowns but there is still lots to be done.