From its beginning the manor of Leominster and its Minster appear to have been the property of the Crown. By the time of the Norman Conquest it was held by Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor, and after the Conquest it passed into the hands of William the Conqueror. During the reign of Henry I (1110-135) the Royal manor and Priory of Leominster were transferred to the Benedictine Abbey of Reading. The date for this transferral was 1123. This meant that the government and justice of the town and the parishes within the Liberty of Leominster were now in the charge of the Abbot of Reading.
The Priory Church of St. Peter and St. Paul that stands in Leominster today dates from the middle of the 12th century, with later additions.
The first element is the Old English leon, which refers to the lowland district watered by the Lugg and Arrow, with their tributaries. This word comes from the old Welsh lion or lian, meaning 'to flow' (as in the Welsh lliant, a torrent or stream). The Welsh name for Leominster was Llanlieni, which can be interpreted as "the minister of the district of floods", Llan being the Welsh place name element originally meaning 'enclosure', but eventually referring to a church, or the land around it. (Reference: Hillaby, J. and Hillaby, C. 2006 Leominster Minster, Priory and Borough c660-1539. p4-5)
Leofric, Earl of Herefordshire, became patron of - and largely rebuilt and endowed - the Minster or Priory sometime in the year 1035. In the Domesday Book the town is still known as Leofminstre.
In a Charter of King Henry I of 1123 the Priory is mentioned as Sancti Petri de Leominstri. In another Charter of 1554, granted by Queen Mary, the town is described as "Leonnpister, alias Lempster".
[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2005]