Newsletter No 9

Newsletter 9               Winter 1976/77


Edna D. Pearson

The association of bells with religious ceremonies dates from earliest times. By the 7th and 8th centuries their use was general in Christian churches. Bede mentions a bell brought from Italy for his abbey at Wearmouth. They were originally small, but larger bells began to be cast in the 13th century. In medieval times, owing to the difficulty of transport  they were frequently cast near to the church by itinerant craftsmen.

Besides calling people to worship at stated times, in the absence of clocks they served to mark the time of day. In pre-reformation days on Sundays and feast days, mass was usually celebrated at 9 o’clock and this custom of ringing the bell at 9 o’clock apparently survived in Bromyard until the beginning of this century for in November 1904, a letter to the Editor of the ‘News and Record reads: ‘Why has the 9 o’clock bell ceased to ring on Sunday mornings at the Parish Church? It has rung to my knowledge for the last 60 years and probably for hundreds of years before. That with this and the curfew bell not ringing the next step will be to do away with the bells altogether’. The curfew was introduced by William the Conqueror and was rung at sunset in summer and 8 o’clock in winter as a signal that all lights and fires should be extinguished. It was abolished by Henry I, but the custom of ringing the bell persisted through the centuries and indeed is still rung in some places today.

For centuries it has been the enthusiastic teams of bell-ringers that made Britain known as ‘the ringing isle’. In Tudor times foreigners accused us of being ‘vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear such as the firing of cannon, drums and the ringing of bells, so that in London it is common for a number of them that have a glass in their heads to go up into some belfry and ring the bells for hours together for the sake of exercise’.

Seldom a day passed without one or all church bells ringing or tolling for one cause or another; sometimes for a birth or a marriage, almost always for a death, perhaps to call people to a meeting or prayer and always to celebrate any event of national importance.

There are many accounts of payments to the ringers in the Bromyard church-wardens’ accounts. Ringing is a thirsty occupation and, after the great overhaul of the bells in 1752, an entry for November 11th reads: ‘Ringers had in drink the first time the Bells was Ringed 5/-’ which, considering the cheapness of ale at that time, must have provided a prodigious amount of refreshment.

Bell-ringing also took place on each anniversary of the Sovereign’s coronation for which they were paid 5/-. There must have been prolonged ringing at King George III’s accession. ‘Pd for ringing Proclaiming George ye 3rd King £1.1.0.’ There were further celebrations later for ‘expenses at the Coronation’ were £12.0.O. and 14 pounds of candles to ‘Luminate the Church’ cost 7/-.

National rejoicing at victories over the country’s enemies was always an excuse for ringing and each year until 1752 the bells on November 5th reminded people of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. Ringers were given 2/6 in 1748 when peace was declared ending the war of the Austrian Succession.

An account for November 1745, ‘Paid ye Ringers at ye victory over the Rebels 2/6’ celebrated the failure of the Jacobite invasion of England. The hopes of the faithful few supporters of the Stuart case had been centred on the attractive young Charles Edward (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’). Landing, almost unattended, in Scotland in July 1745 he gathered an army and at first met with some success. He held court at Edinburgh and decided to march into England, hoping that the English sympathisers would rise, but neither the gentry nor others came forward. He advanced as far as Derby and then lost heart and retreated to Scotland where the rebellion was finally crushed in the following April.

In November 1776 the ringers celebrated the taking of New York from the colonists in the War of American Independence. In 1782 the French were supporting the Colonists and Admiral Rodney won a great victory and Bromyard ‘gave the Ringers when Rodney took the French Admiral and shipping 6/-’. There was a general’ thanksgiving for the King’s restoration to health in April 1788 and the ringers received 10/6.

In October 1797 ‘when the Dutch Fleet was taken by Admiral Duncan at Camperdown they were paid 5/-, but the national exultation over Nelson’s victory over the’ French at the Battle of the Nile, in spite of the dilapidated condition of the Church tower, must have been celebrated by prolonged ringing for the ringers received the large sum of 14/6. Then considering these figures the effects of inflation in the last two centuries must be borne in mind. In more recent times Bromyard ringers rang a fully muffled 5040 changes Grandsire Doubles in 2 hours 56 minutes on the death of King George VI. This was said to be the first time a fully muffled peal had been rung on the bells of the Parish Church.

In 1786 the ringers were given 6/- at Christmas. This entry does not appear again, but possibly it became a custom in later years for the Bromyard Deanery Magazine for January 1914 states ‘As usual our Christmas offerings were given to the bell ringers. This year they amounted to £8.12.4.’ When Mr. Richard Phipps was at Buckenhill he made them an annual donation. Mr. Phipps died in 911. In April 1919 the ringers were dissatisfied with their remun­eration and intimated to the People’s Warden their dislike of going round at Easter collecting subscriptions for themselves and asked that they should be paid an annual sum of £14 for their services for the year. After discussion it was decided that they should be paid £12. At the present time the ringers are a voluntary body and any payment received for their services goes into a fund for the maintenance of the bells.

The first we hear of the Bromyard bells is an entry in the Register of Bishop Stanbury on April 12th, 1472 when the Bishop granted an indulgence that is a remission in God’s name of punishment for sins committed, provided that the sinner repented and made payment to some good work. In this case to any who would help in the restoration of the church at Bromyard and the belfry and be1ls which had been damaged by lightening.

Repairs were obviously done and the bells replaced for, at the Reformation when Commissioners were sent to list the contents of all churches, the Inventory dated 4 June 1553 lists Five ‘great bells whereof the least is 32 inches the second 35 inches the third 40 inches the fourth is 45 inches and the fifth is 50 inches broad at the mouth’

The bells we allowed to remain and were doubtless well used and cared for. In the Parish Register it is recorded that in 1678    :

‘The ffive old Bells were cast into sixe newe belles.
The first Belle wayeth Sixe Hundred and a halfe and twelve poundes.
The Second Belle wayeth Severn hundred and three quarters and Eight Poundes.
The Third Belle wayeth Nine Hundred and an Halfe and twelve poundes.
The fforthe Belle wayeth Eight Hundred and an Halfe and ffifteen poundes.
The ffifte Belle wtyeth twe_ve hunured and one quarter and sixe poundes
The Sixte Belle wayeth ffifteen Hundred and one quarter and three poundes.
At ye casting of ye fourthe Belle of second time there was an addition of mettle.
So ye fourthe Belle wayeth Nine Hundred and three quarters and Twenty severn pounds.

Unfortunately there are no church wardens accounts extant before 1723. It is recorded that the son of John of Guest, Vicar 1743 – 1760, took the books to Hereford and they were never returned. In 1743 the little bell was sent to Mr. Abraham Rudhall Junr. Of Gloucester to be exchanged for a new one. From 1734 onwards there are frequent payments relating to the bells and the ringers. In July and December there is a payment of eight pence ‘for oyle for the bells’.

The condition of the bells still gave cause for concern and Mr. Rudhall of Gloucester was asked to come and give his opinion concerning the fifth bell. His report was unfavourable and it was decided to recast all the bells.

The Ringing world’ of July 19th 1974, quotes a notice which appeared in the ‘Gloucester Journal’ of June 11th, 1751:

‘This is to Give NOTICE THAT THE FIFTH BELL belonging to the Town and Parish of Bromyard hath been thro’ misfortune broken, and must be forthwith cast. Application has been made to Mr. RUDHALL of Gloucester, by the Churchwarden, to know the Charge, which he says will amount to near 20£. But the rest of the Bells being so untunable that the Parish appl’d to the Bell Founder aforesaid concerning the Casting of the whole Peal (as it is the opinion of all who are Judges that there is not a worse Peal of Bells in England) to encourage them he says he will cast the whole Peal for about 5O£. And to prevent the Thing’s being done at the Parish Expense, several therein, according to their Abilities, have offer’d to contribute very honourable; and, as they could not think of a properer Method of recommending this Undertaking to the neighbouring Gentlemen than inserting it in this Paper, they hope it will meet with Encouragement which will be gratefully acknowledged by the Town and Parish aforesaid.
N.B. – Please pay the Subscription – Money into the hands of the Rev. Mr. Guest or Mr. Tho Williams, Churchwarden’.

The Churchwardens’ Accounts give details of the, bells cast in the year 1752 with -their weight:

Cwt.    Q.    lb.
1.    7    0    24
2.         7          3     6
3.    8    2    13
4    9    0    12
5.    10    0    8
6.    15    1    i8

Then follows an interesting list of payments. A considerable sum of money had to be found. The Bishop had to be informed, a faculty had to be obtained and influential people were contacted. There were journeys to Ludlow and Hereford ‘to wait on Veltus Cornwell’. Veltus Cornwall of’ Moccas had been M.P. for Herefordshire for 46 years. He died in 1768.
The Harley family of Brampton Bryan had long and distinguished connections with Herefordshire. ‘Sir Robert Harley, chosen as Knight of the Shire of Hereford, had a notable career. His son, Sir Edward, became M.P. for Hereford and another Sir Edward was M.P. for Leominster from 1698-1715. Robert Harley, the first Earl of Oxford died at Brampton Bryan in 1724. The accounts continue:

Spent with Mr. Rudhall when come over concerning the
fifth Bell                                                                                0.    4.    0.
Horse Hyer Mr. Chambers                                                        0.    1.    0.
Expenses to Hereford to Waite on the Bishop                    0.    4.    6.
Had in Drink when went abt with the Subscription Paper        0.    1.    3.
Going to Ludlow to Waite on Veltus Cornwell Esq.                    8.    3.
Going to Waite on Veltus Cornwell Esq. to Hereford        5    0.
For Tatting Down and Weighing the Bells                                 0.    13.    6.
Paid William Stephens for Drawning Two Copies of
Subscription papers for London                                                  0.    3.    6.                                                                                                        
Two post letters in that acct.                                                       0.    0.    8.
Paid Mr. Pillmer and Mr. Beavern for Taking’ the Bells
to Worcs.                                                                                    2.    2.    0.
My Horse and Expense the, same time to Worcester              0.    5.    6.                                                                                     
Paid at the Key for unloading and putting in the Barge              0.    2.         9.
Two journeys to Mr. Chambers                          0.    2.         0.
At Michaelmas Sessions to wait on Ld Harley             0.    4.         9.
Two journeys to Gloucester to article with Mr. Rudhall         
the  Bell founder and other, business on yt account                    0.   19.        9.
Pd. Mr. Blunt for poles                         0.    0.         8.   
Pd William Jones for hoops for the Bell Wheels              0.    5.         3.
Thos. Mitchell and the post boy for going to the Key
Several times to enquire after the Bells                 0.    1.         3.
James Knowles for Horse Hyre for the Bell Hanger to go
to Gloucester to forward ye bells                     0.    3.        6.   
His expenses in going                          0.    6.        0.
Pd Mr. Pilliner and Mr. Beavern for bringing the Bells
back from Worcester                             2.    5.        0.       
Pd the Turnpike at Bromyard and Worcester                          0.    6.        0.
Pd the Water Bayley                             0.    2.        0.
Pd the Bargmen for hoisting the bells into ye wagon                  0.    3.        0.
Pd for Tackling of another Barge yt being not strong enough    0.    2.        0.
Expenses at the Old Unicorn for the 5 men and two Waggons   0.   16.       0.               
Expenses upon the Road from Worcester                 0.      2.       6.
My Horse Hyer                             0.     1.       6.   
Their Suppers at night after come home                 0.     5.       6.
Pd for help to unload the Bells                      0.     4.       6.
Pd for help to get up the Great Bell                     0.     6.       0.   
Pd for help to get up the Rest of the bells                 0.    11.      9.
Pd for candles at ,Several times in bellhangers work
and fitting up the bells in the Tower                                          0.    2.        7.
Rawlings for assisting 3 days                         0.    2.        3.   
Pd Mr. Abel Rudhall for casting the Bells                     48.   3.        6.
Pd the Trow men for taking the bells down
and bringing them up.                              1.  16.       0.     
Paid Phineas Phillips for hawling weights to weigh the bells     0.     3.       0.     
Pd Thos Moxam by bill                          1.    8.       2 1/2   
Pd for 15 post letters from Gloucester                  0.    5.       0.   
Pd Mr. Rudhall’s charge for 15 post letters to Gloucester           0.    5.       0.
gave  Mr. Rudhalls men at Twice in Drink                  0.    3.       0.   
Pd Thos. Moxam by bill                          1.    6.       0.   
Pd William Baylis by bill                        10.    7.       0.
Pd Mr. Cook the bell hanger                         10.   10.      0.       
Pd the Clerks wife for cleaning the Church at time              0.     1.       9.
Pd Geo Parnam for Taking Down the 5 Bells                          0.      6.       0.
Pd Thos Moxam for the use of his pooleys                                  0.      2.    6.
For Wm Cook Bellhanger Board 5 weeks                                1.     0.       0.
88.      2.    7.
Subscriptions                                                                                52.      6.    0.

Due to C. Wardens over and above subscription                    35.    16.      7.
A charge of £1.8.9. for obtaining a faculty casting the bells was added later.

The entries are of interest for they give quite a vivid picture of the task of transporting heavy loads. Roads were bad and it was both safer and cheaper to take the bells to Worcester and make the journey to Gloucester by water. There must have been some anxious moments when the bells proved too heavy for the  barge originally selected.

Apart from an entry in February 1755 for mending the great bell wheel and another in 1764 for repairing the great bell wheel and better fixing of all the wheels there is no further mention of the bells in the churchwardens’ records.

In July 1792 the church was presented in the Bishop’s Court as being ‘in a ruinous and dangerous condition’. For some years past there had been occasional payments for clearing snow out of the bell and clock room, but in spite of this the bells continued to ring until the end of the century when extensive repairs were made to the whole church including the tower, but at the end of the 19th century repairs were again necessary. A meeting was called in 1887 mentioning the state of the north transept and the tower, but apparently nothing was done until after another meeting in November 1896 when the vicar called for ‘active steps’ to restore the north transept, repair the tower and other parts of the church. Through the generosity of Mr. Richard Phipps of Buckenhill the south transept had been restored and he now said he would be pleased to put a new ceiling in the tower. During the year 1899-1900 much work was done to the belfry and ringing chamber. The bells were rehung and the 5th bell recast. A new clock was also erected. The actual sum spent on rehanging etc of the bells and the new clock amounted to £252. 6.9.

During the 1914-1918 war the ringers were obviously disorganised and possibly disbanded. The Bromyard News and Record of 2 March 1922 reads ‘It is to be hoped that the Parish Church bells will peal again. A meeting was held last Wednesday to discuss the matter of bellringers. Mr. Palmer Churchwarden presided. It was decided to organise a band of voluntary ringers, twelve in number. Mr. F.T. Miles consented to form this and 6 of those present promised to join.’ In the following January the annual meeting of the Herefordshire Deanery Bellringers Guild was held at Bromyard and the Towers of Bromyard, Bredenbury, Pencombe and Whitbourne were represented and also the Towers of Kimbolton and Berrington-on-Wye; but in September 1924 the bells were declared unsafe for ringing and were to receive attention.

In February 1935 one corner of the bell frame had lost its support, the frame was distorted and it was considered inadvisable to have continuous ringing. An estimate of repairs had been obtained in 1933 and these were carried out by Messrs. Stainbank of London. The belfry was  reopened in July, the repairs costing £83.16.O.  In April 1936 the P.C.C. reported that the fabric of the church was in excellent condition and that during the last year the bells had been rehung, but two years later it was known that timbers in the belfry had been damaged by the ravages of the death watch beetle and an architect had advised replacement.

with the outbreak of war in 1939 the ringing of church bells was forbidden and only to be used as an emergency signal. An exception was made on Sunday 9th November 1942 when  permission was given for ringers to celebrate the victory in North Africa.

After the war, when ringers were reassembled and recruited, deterioration and movement was apparent. Advice was obtained from the bell founders in 1966 and it was realised that very heavy expenditure would need to be incurred. A committee was appointed to find means of raising the sum of £2000.
With the permission of the P.C.C. it was decided to ask for interest free loans of £10 each. These were to be repayable at intervals over the next ten years. In 1967 the response was immediate and generous and not only from church members. However the money loaned was soon returned owing to the generosity of  Mrs. Maggie Dowson who gave £2,750 as a memorial to her late husband, George Granville Dowson to defray the expense of a new frame and one new bell hell. Mr T. Cooper the ringing master, had already offered to give a new treble bell in thank-offering for his many years of ringing.

In October 1967 the bells were dismantled and sent to John Taylor’s foundry at Loughborough for retuning while two new bells were cast, the treble (given by Thomas Cooper in 1968) weighing 4 cwt 17 lbs and the second (in loving memory of George Granville Dowson) 5 cwt 6 lbs.

Work in the bell chamber was done by voluntary labour and in March 1968 a new steel and iron frame to take eight bells was put in the tower by the bell founder. A piece of oak dated 1678 was found in the old frame with the inscription ‘Rie Hunt medic dedit’. The work was completed and on Friday 5th April 1968 the Bishop of Hereford, the Right Rev. M.A. Hodson, dedicated the restored bells and the two new bells making a fine ring of eight. In July of the following year a Surprise Major Peal of 5056 changes was rung at St. Peter’s in 2 hors 50 minutes to be known as Bromyards Surprise Major.



Martin J. Perry

My detailed research into the development of road and rail communications in Bromyard is continuing, and the recent acquisition of a copy of the official Midland Red Worcester Area time-table book for 1950 has prompted me to make some comparisons between BMMO services in that year, and their level of operation in Bromyard in 1977.

The immediate post-war years, with their restrictions on car ownership, petrol availability, and lesser degree of car-owning affluence when compared with the present, naturally meant that patronage of bus services was at a high level – indeed, the year 1952 is today generally taken as the “all time high” in levels of scheduled mileage, patronage and operation of public bus services. The 1950 time-table, therefore, reflects well the services available to the public in that post-war peak. For i3romyard, the Thursday market day was also a strong weekly event in 1950 (the railway still open right through from Worcester to Leominster, and the post-war recovery of farming both contributing), and therefore when the Thursday bus services are considered, it is certainly here that the very highest degree of bus operation Bromyard has known can be found.

Today, with much higher levels of car-ownership and independence from the scheduled bus services, the Thursday buses are few and far between, and the market-day specials are gone. (It must, of course, be noted that the 427 service still retains one Thursday journey to Bromyard, and this is the last Thursday extra that the Midland Red provide. Also, despite the Midland Red decline, private local operators have taken over some Thursday journeys, and these are still alive and flourishing – Morris’s running to Ridgeway Cross; Silver Star running to Pencombe and Little Cowarne; Corvedale running to Tenbury, this service being the modern successor to the Critchleys / F. Yarranton route).

However, the following tables show a fascinating difference, highlighting the public transport decline of the past 27 years – and reflecting the movement of the passenger away from the local buses. As always, may I ask anyone who could loan me any timetables or other material describing public transport in the Bromyard area, to be kind enough to assist my researches.

Worcester Area Timetable, 1950

Shown below are departure time (Church Street), service number, ultimate destination.

Thursdays only
0610: 420    to Hereford                        0850: 455 to Kidderminster
0750: 420,    to Worcester                        0855: 469 to Hereford
0800: 420    to Hereford                        0855: 420 to Hereford
0850: 455    to Ledbury                        0900: 422 to Leominster
0935: 415       to Felton                  1430: 427 to Tedstone                                
0945: 427       to Clifton                             1435: 371 to Cradley 
1010: 427       to Tedstone                 1450: 415 to Felton   
1045: 422       to Docklow                          1450: 420 to Worcester
1050: 420       to Worcester                        1505: 420 to Hereford
1055:.420       to Hereford                          1540: 420 to Hereford               
1055: 415       to Ullingswick                     1540: 373 to Worcester
1115: 420       to Stoke Lacy                       1545: 469 to Hereford
1200: 427       to High House                      1600: 427 to High House
1215: 470       to Bishops Frome                 1600: 420 to Hereford
1230: 371       to Ridgeway Cross               1615: 420 to Hereford
1230: 372       to Suckley                            1650: 455 to Ledbury
1250: 455       to Kidderminster                  1650: 420 to Worcester
1250: 420       to Hereford                           1710: 420 to Hereford
1300: 470       to Bishops Frome                 1710: 422 to Docklow
1305: 422       to Leominster                       1715: 469 to Hereford
1305: 420       to Hereford                           1810: 420 to Hereford
1345: 422       to Docklow                          1855:  420 to Worcester
1350: 415       to Pencombe                        2050:  420 to Hereford
1415: 427       to Clifton                              2150: 420 to Hereford        TOTAL 48

Hereford & Worcester  Area Timetabic, 1977

Departure times (Pump Street), Service Number, ultimate destination.   Thursdays only

0747:    420 to Worcester                          1430:  469     to Hereford                      
0804:    420 to Hereford                           1439:  420     to Hereford                      
0840:    420 to Worcester             1500:  427     to High House
0929:    420 to Hereford            1518:  420     to Worcester
1053:    420 to Worcester            1653:  420     to Worcester.   
1108:   420 to Hereford             1704:  420     to Hereford                      
1239:    420 to Hereford             1829:  420     to Hereford                      
1253:   420 to Worcester            1853:  420     to Hereford



Jennifer McCulloch

Rowden and Thornbury are the only mills remaining in Plegeliate Hundred which still retain their machinery. The gearing at Rowden was of the traditional pattern of a pit wheel on the water-wheel shaft driving a wallower on the lower end of the upright shaft, the drive to the stones being through a great spur wheel and stone nuts, and a power take-off for sack hoist and auxiliary machinery from a crown wheel at the upper end of shaft. Mrs R. Williams, the daughter of the last miller, Mr. S. Powell Tuck, recalls that there used to be a wooden overshot wheel c. 1914-18. This was replaced by a turbine which remains. The drive to the upright shaft is now via a pinion meshing with the great spur wheel mounted on another upright shaft inside the mill. This is turned by means of a belt from the turbine outside. At Rowden, the octagonal upright shaft and the compass arm crown wheel are of wood and the remainder of the machinery is iron. This was a two pair mill, but originally there were probably three pairs of millstones. One pair of stone bears the name “Handley, Moor St., Birmingham.” This firm was in business 1850-90. The stone nuts were raised out of gear by rings and screws, one of the more usual methods.

The house at Rowdon is an early 17th-century timber-framed building with additions of stone rubble. It appears that the lower part of the mill, which is of stone,  is of the same date as the house. The mill roof seems to have been raised towards the end of the 17th century or early in the 18th. There are three floors in the mill.

As at Rowden, the mill at Thornbury adjoins the house, but here, the house as well as the mill is of stone. The mill has been built into the bank of the mill pond so that access to the top floor of the mill for unloading sacks is at cart level. There are three floors with an unusual half floor for storage of grain. The machinery at Thornbury is different and interesting. There is an iron overshot wheel with an inscription on the rim: “BRAY  HSR.”  Thomas Bray was in business in Hereford as a millwright and engineer in 1862 (Morris’s Directory) and also in 1870 (Kelly). Two other wheels made by Bray which I have come across, both farm wheels, are at Home Farm, Dulas, and at the Leen, near Pembridge, and both bear striking resemblance to the one at Thornbury. The dimensions of this wheel, large diameter 18 foot, narrow width 3 foot, are those often favoured when the water supply is poor. There is a gear ring bolted to the (arms of the water wheel, this engages with two small pinions on either side which each take the drive independently to two pairs of stones by horizontal shafts passing through the wall of the mill. On the other end of these shafts are bevelled iron wheels with wood cogs which mesh with “stone nuts. The power is taken to a horizontal, wood lay shaft on the floor above, driving the processing machinery via belt from pulley mounted on me of horizontal shafts from the water wheel (see diagram). An oil engine in an adjoining building could be made to drive one pair of stones through horizontal shaft and bevel gearing when water was short. There were two pairs of stones, disconnected by an unusual way of chains wound
up by roller and fixed by ratchet. There is a bolter and an unusual primitive winnower which appear-s to have blown the chaff out through a hole in the wall.

Thornbury Mill was often run together with Butterley, the next mill down stream. In 1835 William Amiss was miller at both Thornbury and Butterley (Pigot’s Directory). In 1870 Thornbury and Butterley were again run together by Joseph Moore (Kelly’s Directory).

Mr. Carter, the son of the last miller but one, recalled how the mill pound was full of trout at one time. As happened at so many mills,’ there used to be frequent flooding of the surrounding fields.

When his father was miller the corn was fetched from Messrs. J.W. Williams, grocer, and Mason’s the baker, with their own horses and wagons, and they returned the finished product the following day. Grinding was always done in the evening so that the pool, which could be drained by two hours milling, would fill up during the night and following day. There was not enough power to use both stones at once. The corn would be unloaded at the ground floor, weighed, then hoisted to the bin floor. It would pass down hoppers to the stones, one for flour and one for animal feed. The meal for livestock would be weighed, then hoisted to the bin floor from where it would be unloaded onto the wagon from the top door at the side. The wholemeal for flour would be hoisted to the bin floor and would pass down another hopper to the dresser. Silks for this machine were made at Bristol rind were very expensive. Every night the silk would be carefully removed to prevent damage by rats. The silk was graded in three different meshes. Underneath were four hoppers for flour, sharps, bran, then coarse bran or hulls. They passed to the ground floor and were then weighed and hoisted to the bin floor, and loaded onto wagons through the top door. Sometimes when the stones were getting worn, the flour had to be ground twice. (This must have necessitated being hoisted to the top of the mill four times) The miller could tell by the feel of the meal whether the stones needed dressing. When worn, the flour felt damp and claggy.

Wooden cogs were apparently a great trial to the Carters. Mr. Carter could not imagine why they were used for meshing with iron. Apparently if one cog was slightly out, the iron gear would strip all the wooden cogs off  in one rotation, and they were always re-cogging wheels.

The Carters dressed their own stones. The peak stones for animal food were dressed approximately once. a year.  Mr. Frances of Bishops Frome was the only blacksmith who could put an edge on mill pecks or bills.

A local farmer Mr.J.S.Sinnet recalls how his father used to take corn to be ground at Thornbury. Payment in kind was still the order of the day. Thornbury Mill ceased grinding 1919.

My thanks are due to Mr. and Mrs. Pitt of Thornbury Mill, and to Mr. Ward, Steps Cottage, Suckley, the owner of Rowden Mill, for allowing me to inspect their properties and to Mr. Carter, School House, Thornbury, for valuable information.



Deborah Waller .

The discovery of the remains of the Romano-British grave at the Wells, Winslow,, (mentioned in chapter one of “Bromyard: A Local History”), has been described in a letter to me by the late Mrs. Molly King-King, a member of the Heygate family who owned the Property at the time. Mrs. King-King wrote:

“It was found in a most unlikely place, under 3 or 4ft of solid clay on the side of a bank, no sort of mound or barrow or even the top of a hill but beside a ditch, the overflow from the top farmyard pond which ran through the garden to the two lower ponds and Mother was making a large rock garden with large scree and rocky bluff and pools and a water garden. I always imagine that the whole thing was intact, a burial urn containing bones and possibly food vessels, but was smashed by the beefy varlets who were digging out the clay to make the .rockery. So little interest, was taken in, those days that no further excavations were attempted and the whole thing was planted up. We never found any flints, but then no one was sufficiently interested to search. One interesting point, the site was about 6 yards away from the mouth of a deep unfailing very cold spring.”

Mrs King-King said that some of the pottery had been presented to the Hereford Museum.

Having read this letter and spoken to Mrs. King-King, Dr. S.C. Stanford wrote to me and there seems no doubt that it is a Romano-British grave which means there is no particular likelihood of finding any associated structures in the vicinity Nevertheless it (the letter) is valuable to have as a record.”



Jean Hopkinson

Two years ago in order to  illustrate some of the work of the Study Group, Mrs Carey gave us an outline of Stoke Lacy at the time of the 1840 Tithe map This is an attempt to trace very briefly the growth and pattern of settlement in Little Cowarne, one of the smallest parishes in our survey of the Bromyard district, using some of the other sources of material available to the Study Group. It lies just north/west of Stoke Lacy on the Hereford/Bromyard road, it covers 693 acres and is less than 2 miles by 1.5 mile. To a surprising degree the boundaries of the parish are physical features, streams, ridges of high ground and only short stretches of hedge.

Now to some of our other sources. The best and earliest source we have to show where the ancient Britain’s passed by, if not lived, is no ancient document but Mrs. Waller! In Little Cowarne she has found flints on Shortwood Farm fields and by Upper House.

Next, an extension of, the Newent / Stretton Grandison Roman road northwards in a straight line from Stretton Grandison passes exactly through Much Cowarne church, along the south-western boundary of Little Cowarne parish and through Little Cowarne church, at the bridle path to the top road and down to Pencombe It is certainly marked on the City Museum map as a probable Roman road as far as Crossways in Stoke Lacy and it seems likely it continued on through Little Cowarne; thus it is ‘reasonable to assume that the Romans used the track perhaps on their way to Risbury.

Then come the, dark ages; but someone travelling up this track must have noticed a sheltered valley at about the 450 ft contour, out of sight of marauding Welsh bands, and with reliable springs. For by 1066 and the Norman invasion, the three hides of Little Cowarne were part of Plegeliate Hundred and were held by a Saxon called Spirites; it was worth £2.10.O. By 1086 and Domesday it had passed to one Nigel the Physician, a Norman, and possibly due to the troubled times and the activities of Cedric the Wild was now worth only £2. Nigel had the use of three ploughs on his demesne land whereas the one freeman, seven serfs and four bordars had only ‘one plough between them. These twelve households would not have had to travel far for their salt as Ullingswick had a surface salt pan. Apparently there was as yet no mill on the river, although there was one at Stoke Lacy.

At some time in the 12th century there was a reorganization of the Saxon hundreds into larger units. Plegeliate, of which Little Cowarne was part, was joined to Tornelaus and together with a few parishes from adjacent hundreds, they became the Hundred of Brokesash, with the Hundred meeting point here in Little Cowarne, probably at the crossroads by Broxash Wood. At first sight it seems strange that such an insignificant place should have been chosen, but the new meeting point was exactly on the boundary where the two old hundreds met and surprisingly equidistant from Upper Sapey in the north and Sutton St. Nicholas to the south. There is a reminder of it to this day with Hundred Bank Cottage and Hundred Bank field.

Unlike Stoke Lacy, Little Cowarne is a recognised deserted medieval village, which means that what had been a thriving community in the 12th and 13th centuries declined, perhaps owing to the plague. Certainly in 1517 a witness gave evidence before Wolsey’s Commissioners on rural depopulation that “In Little Cowarne there are not more than four people. dwelling …“ (this probably meant four families) and then he went on “Sometime within the last 20 years Richard Hulles lived there with his wife and family and worked with six oxen yoked to one plough.

Now where is this medieval community likely to have grown up? If in fact the south-western boundary track was an important road then that would account f or the positioning of the church on it rather to the west of the parish, whereas if the village has a heart now I feel it is more centred on the Three Horse Shoes. According to the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments the earliest work in the church that remains is the base of the north wall of the chancel dating from the 12th century: then in the 13th century, presumably in a period of prosperity, the whole of the rest of the ‘church was rebuilt. Certainly by 1276, when we have the earliest documentary reference to the church, the population must have increased sufficiently to maintain its own rector, which it managed to do until in 1478 when, according to Bishop Mylling’s Register, “the church of Little Cowarne is united to that of Ullingswick, as its revenues are insufficient to support a priest”.

I suspect that the rest of the settlement grew up round the church as immediately to the west lie fourteen acres of the flattest land in the parish, bordered on one side by a stream, and during excavations for a hop-yard in the 1930s the foundations of a substantial building were uncovered.  The pound and pound field, are near the church on the bridle path to Pencombe, further  along which lies a field known as Townsend Croft, suggesting that was the limit of settlement.

At the same time, on his map of “South Wales and the Border in the Fourteenth Century, Prof. W. Rees has marked a “minor fortification or manor house” between Meadowcourt in the north-east of the  parish and the river Lodon, of which there is no trace now. I am following this up and hoping to track down the source of Prof. Rees’s information.

Thus, there was a centre of occupation near the church, with a possible minor fortification  near Meadowcourt, which gradually declined to four families in 1517. However from then on the population began to creep up again. Then the east end of Meadowcourt was built. The church registers started in 1563 and although monopolised by the Mason and Bowley families for the first eight years, gradua1ly more names appeared. About 1600 the White House and the Court were built. In1618 Bowleys were still living in the village at the Wells, and John Hill first appears in the church registers as a churchwarden; by 1637 he is signing himself as ”John Hill of  Meadowcourt”, obviously very proud of his recently enlarged residence. The Hearth Tax of 1671 records ten taxpayers with four exemptions, making fourteen households for that year.  By 1691 Edward Abel was one of the churchwardens. An Edward Abell is a church warden today, in 1977. Surely a nearly unique record.

Why did not building take place around the church again? I really don’t know. Presumably by the beginning of the 16th century much of the land would have reverted to waste. However there appears to have been a revival of the open field system of cultivation, whether on the medieval pattern of field boundaries it is impossible to tell. Clues to open fields appear in the three Tithe Map field names of “Broadfield” and these are borne out by the various strip fields which still existed at the time of the Tithe Map. In addition a trust of 1844 refers to “All that piece or parcel of arable land formerly called the four acres situate in a certain common field called Mill Field but some years since enclosed therefrom …” and a conveyance of 1856 mentions a field in Cocke Crow Common Field. So I get a picture of open fields until about the end of the 17th or mid-1&th century; there were no Enclosure acts for this part of the country so it must hive been a gradual process of consolidation by exchange and buying and selling.

By 1777  twentyfour families were being charged Land Tax and at the first Census carried out in 18O1 a reliable population figure of 111 is at last available. By 1841 the population had risen to 187, with 48 houses in the parish, five of which were empty; since when only 2 houses have been built on new sites.

Little Cowarne reached a peak of population in 1871 with 213, but ever since it has steadily declined to a low in 1974 of 92. I am glad to say that that trend has been reversed with some new arrivals, the modernisation of 2 derelict houses and the rebuilding of a third, so by the end of 1977 we should be back to well over 100.



H.B.J. Evans

In January 1870 the Rector of Pencombe, the Rev. George Arkwright, introduced a monthly parish magazine to inform, as he said, the people of Pencombe to keep abreast of the leading topics of the day, and keep parishioners who lived at a distance from the church informed of special services or sermons. The cost was 2d a month, and the magazine ran to some twenty-four or twenty-five pages.

Study of the first year’s numbers gives a picture of Pencombe life in mid-Victorian times. Naturally much of the contents is concerned only with church matters, but secular life is also mentioned.

The school, which can be regarded as a combination of both, was ‘reported to have 79 children in the large school and 48 infants, in the January issue.

Secularism was given space in February with the report of the formation of the Pencombe branch of the Hampton Friendly Society. Apparently many of the labouring classes were anxious to join a benefit club, and Mr. Yates, the hon. secretary of the Hampton Friendly Society (established for twenty-five years), attended two meetings in Pencombe to explain the rules and benefits. It was hoped that inhabitants of Little Cowarne, Winslow, Stoke Lacy and Grendon would join those in Pencombe to form the Pencombe Benefit Club. This met with so little encouragement that Pencombe decided to join the Hampton Society. So on Thursday, 6th January, at a meeting in the school room, Thomas Went was enrolled as the first member of the Pencombe Branch. Four other men were also enrolled, and three more, who were absent from the meeting, signed agreements. The modest subscription did not cover a visit from the doctor, and there follows an earnest plea for the farmers to become honorary members at 10/- or even 5/- a year and show goodwill to their labourers. (It does not say with what result). ‘

But a month previously some of the farmers had shown generosity for with others of like mind on New Year’s Eve, 1869, they gave 270 lbs of beef to some 60 families of cottagers in the, parish. In the evening in spite of the rain and fog, a great number assembled .at the Rectory (now Pencombe Hall) to witness a few fireworks. A large fire balloon which ascended to a great height concluded the evening’s entertainment.

On Easter Sunday there were 91 communicants at the two celebrations. The offerings, which amounted to six pounds and seven-pence, were presented to the people of Little Cowarne for the restoration of their church. This must have been very ruinous as it states that “It fell into decay, green mould appeared and cobwebs and broken glass, the stone font was daubed with whitewash, the altar tumbled to pieces and coverings moth-eaten”.

Mention is made that about 1866 the church clock was ordered from Mr. Joyce of Whitchurch at a cost of £80. The Squire gave £5, three farmers £1 each, and one or two labourers a shilling each. The Rector had to give the rest.

In June it was decided that a peal of bells was required. Six good bells would cost £300 and it was resolved to elect a committee of three, say two farmers and the Rector “who shall open a fund to which everyone in the’ village shall contribute until the money is got. The Rector intends to sell plants towards the fund”.

One of the leading topics of the day with which the Rector wanted parishioners to keep abreast impinged on Pencombe in August when a collection was made for the relief of the sick and wounded in the Franco-Prussian war. This amounted to £5.17.3., but the Rector pointed out that £4.10.0. was given by strangers, leaving £1.7.3. to represent 78 families living in the parish. In October the Harvest Festival collection of £6.17.4. was also given to the sick and wounded.

The Harvest Festival was held on 6th 0ctober in the afternoon and the church was full with many standing in the porch and outside. Afterwards everyone went to Mr. Goode’s meadow at the Court Farm where a large tent had been erected, and tea and cake was provided free, except to visitors, who were charged a shilling each. I: was estimated that 600 availed themselves of the tent. Races followed, and there was a leg of mutton on top of a greasy pole.


Martin J Perry

The later years of the 1890s brought the first signs of the motor age to the town and district of Bromyad. References in the Bromyard newspapers at or about the turn of the century cast amusing comments on, the novelty and the local excitement of the new machines. Despite motor-cars being regarded with “awe and suspicion”, they were here to stay. -‘

The exact dates, of, acquisition and ownership of the first motors in Bromyard are hard to define (although, missing little, the Bromyard newspapers keep us informed of developments). The arrival of the Act in 1903 that required all motor vehicles to register with local authorities however meant that details of makes, types, Owners, and even colours were to be accurately recorded – and from this information, that survives today, much can be learnt of the earliest years of motoring.

The 1903 Act meant that all existing vehicles (motor cycles, tricycles, cars and  “heavy motor cars” — goods vehicles, steam traffic etc.) were to register at their local (county or borough) licensing office. All new vehicles subsequent to January 1st, 1904, were automatically to be registered and all were to receive an identification mark, their registration number. The Hereford County office was a1located “CJ”, and first opened its doors on January 1st 1904. (Note that “VJ” was not issued until July 1927, it taking 23 years to go from CJ I to CJ 9999). ‘ . .

Fortunately, despite the pressures on office space that have caused much valuable registration material to be destroyed over the years, Herefordshire (and latterly Hereford & Worcester) have retained their earliest record books, and I was recently given the invitation to examine these at the Hereford offices. The following list (which seems the most sensible way to present the information), details the first cars registered by owners in and around Bromyard.

First column: Herefordshire registration mark.  Second column: Vehicle make, type.
Third column:    Registered owner. Fourth column: Date registered. Fifth column: Other details.

CJ 22    l0hp  Lanchester    H.G. Morgan,          1/1/1904 Tonneau
Stoke Lacy Rectory    Green/ Red lining

CJ 27    8hp Eagle tandem    H.F.S. Morgan,     1/1/1904 Dark Green: –
Stoke Lacy Rectory

CJ 75    l2hp Darracq                A.E. Pettifer,          3/2/1904 Dark Green

CJ 97 8hp Bardow (?) car – H. Graystone, Hay    7/4/1904 Blue/yellow lines
Jas. Fryer, Kington
*E. Williams, Bromyard (*acquired 13/5/1906)
**E.L. Cave, Bromyard (* *acquired 16/5/1908)

CJ 103 10/l2hp Argyll             T.H. Gilliam,           9/4/1904  Green/red lining

CJ 139 ?? motorcycle               Wm. Harwood,           21/7/1904

CJ 160 ?? motor- tricycle      E. Lashford Cave,    4/10/1904

CJ 179 6hp  Wolseley.            Fredk. Knight Essell    11/02/1905 Red         

CJ 205 Singer Motorcycle     Jas. King Lewis,      3/05/1905   
Nunwell House,

CJ 223 6hp Vulcan dogcart   Philip King Lewis,   7/07/1905       Blue
Nunwell House,

CJ 237    3 hp Durkopp           Chas. H. Twells,        18/09/1905 “For professional use”      
1-cylinder car         Nunwell House,

CJ 255    6hp Rover              Julian Alleyne Baker    27/01/1906
light phaeton (2 seater)

CJ 256 l2hp Lanchester     Henry J. Barneby,        27/01/1906      Green
Rowden House.

CJ 275 l2hp Wolseley          A.E. Pettifer,                 2/03/1906        Yellow, and black tonneau*
(* later converted to a Royal Mail van)
On 23/3/06, A.E. Pettifer  also re-registered CJ 75 as a Royal Mail van, red & black with yellow wheels.

CJ 305    3bhp Quadrant      Thos. Jessop                    9/07/1906
motor­cycle           Edwin Ralph Rectory

CJ 309  lOhp Darracq       Sir Richard Harrington   14/07/1906  Red
Whitbourne Court

CJ 310    3.5hp Quadrant    C.J. Edmund Williams     14/07/1906 
motor-cycle        42, High Street,

CJ 313    3.5hp Centaur       E.J. Smith,                       21/07/1906
motor­cycle        Bank House,
(*this passed to H.Johnson, Hop Pole Hotel 24/03/1908

CJ 328 16/20 Minerva      A.E. Pettifer,                   12/9/06’ “Natural wood”
Car              Bromyard
(originally a tonneau, brougham body, this was later converted into a Mail Van)

C 333    6hp Rover             E.A.A. Beck,                   26/09/1906           
special” 2 seater             Bromyard

CJ 339    l0hp Alldays         Rear-Adml. .J.A. Baker,  25/10/06 Blue
& Onions               Rowden House

CJ 361 16hp Wolseley    A.E. Pettifer                      16/02/1907   Yellow / Black

CJ 401    Wolseley             T.J.Foulkes,                       17/05/1907
2-seater              Bromyard.

CJ 406    5hp twin Rex       C.H. Twells,                      27/05/1907
Motorcycle         Nunwell House,

CJ 412 4.5hp twin Rex    E.J, Smith,                         14/06/1907
Bank House,

CJ 416    3.5hp Griffoni      T.L.Brain                          25/06/1907
Motorcycle         Keep Hill

Study of these early records is providing more useful detail of the early motors in Bromyard and in particular of the cars and mail-carts used by A.E. Pettifer.


Joan Leese

Recently among the odd bits of paper on which I scribble memoranda to myself, only to completely forget them, I found one bearing these words:

Polly Planket,
1st half 19th century?

The combination of such a name and such an occupation in a time when female occupations were so restricted is too intriguing to ignore. “Enter Polly Planket in her best dimity…. bearing a spade with which she strikes the First Body-Snatcher.. ..” The possibilities are endless – a big angular woman clumping along the Schallenge in hobnail boots, or a small tidy body with a number of sturdy little sons to do the work for her, or a headstrong girl too proud to be kept by the parish…..?  But can anyone offer some facts.



Daphne Davies

This small parish lies discreetly at the north-eastern perimeter of the Hundred and abuts the shire boundary. Shaped rather like a sock or wellington boot its toe reaches into Collington, the heel is at High Lane on the Stourport road adjacent to Tedstone Wafre, and the leg is surrounded by Stoke Bliss, Hanley Childe and Upper Sapey. Its 1500 acres are mostly on high ground up to 700 ft above sea level.

We hope to visit this interesting parish in April when we meet at St. Andrew’s Church. Earthworks are recorded in the vicinity of the church and can be clearly seen. In an adjacent field is probably the site of a deserted medieval village and in one corner is the village pound, with the Butts Field opposite. Wolferlow Court is a fine half-timbered house extended in the 17th century and the settlement appears to extend from the Court to Upper House across fields called Palmers Close, the Batches and Goose Green. Upper House has different stages of building spanning several hundred years; one especially fine feature is a six- panelled door with a dec­orative frieze at the top stated to be 17th century. One field name is a puzzle, it is “Piece and Griffin”; a theory put forward is that it may have belonged to a man called Rhys ap Griffith~ Has anyone any other ideas?

From Upper House towards Collington, down a steep drop along the old parish road now barely visible, lie the Underleys. Underley House was built of red brick in the early 19th century by a Bristol man of means called “Where”. The estate road runs north past the site of Middle Underley to Upper Underley and its large pond through which runs the parish boundary. This house is recorded by the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments as dating from medieval times. It was probably a single storey hall divided in the 16th century when the kitchen wing was added. It was largely rebuilt in the 18th century.

Climbing the ridge by the road passing Stoke Bliss church one may reach Wolferlow Park. This former deer park of almost 100 acres was surrounded by a stone wall. Duncumb records deer belonging to Sir Edward Winnington being in the, park at the beginning of the 19th century. The Park Farm built off brick shows at least two stages of building. William and Susanna Cooper’s family lived here at least from 1840 until 1870 and at one time he had eleven children at home. Churchwarden at St. Andrew’s in 1851 he would have travelled by the old roads past Poswick to reach the church. Now woodland divides the two farms. Poswick derives its name from Possa’s an Anglo-Saxon dairy farm. The present house built in the last century stands adjacent to a much older site which has signs of early settlement. To the west of Poswick is Cockshut Coppice. Dr Gelling has explained that cockshut was a means of catching woodcock with a net and heaters.

Nearby is the Heath Farm, a fine stone built farmhouse and buildings apparently all of one build perhaps at the turn of the 18th century. Much detail and care of thought is obvious in the style of the sills and nest unusual feature is two ricks on stools and each stool topped by an iron. Samuel Drew lived here in 1840 but he also farmed Forty Acres. In 1851, aged 73, he was living at Forty Acres, near the vicarage beyond the church, with his six-year old grandson.

The Vicarage was built in the mid-l9th century possibly when the church largely rebuilt. Kempson, the architect, retained two Norman doorways and the chancel arch, and many of the old memorial tablets still adorn the walls. Beneath the tower the huge timbers are exposed and near the altar stone effigy lies a lady in a wimple. Her gown falls in graceful pleats her slippers which rest on a small dog. Her style of dress is said by Pevsner to be “still in the 12th century and earlier 13th century tradition”. At this time the manor was held by the Prioress and convent of Aconbury. Prioress, Joan of Ledbury, during the reign of Richard II, granted a lease to Walter Cruyk of Wolferlow. Later the manor was held by the Packington’s who sold to the Salwey’s in 1591. The Winnington’s inherited through a Salway heiress and the Winnington Ingrams were connected with the Parish into this century.

There are few cottages in the parish. A settlement along High Lane seems to be built upon the roadside wastes and was no doubt maintained because of its proximity to the school, shop, inn and chapel, serving Upper Sapey and Tedstone Wafre. In 1851 there were eight cottages in this group including one in which lived Thomas Dallow, a carpenter employing two men and a wagoner.

This account of the Parish of Wolferlow is merely a little dip into past, a taste of its history. Detailed study continues especially regarding the people who lived on the land. It was given its name by the Mercian Royal family, the family of King Offa, as Wolfhaeda’s Low.