Newsletter One

Spring & Summer 1971
Editor:    Joan Leese 
Assisted by Jennifer McCulloch, Mildred Shepherd and Deborah Waller

Here is the first issue of the Newsletter which we decided, at the annual general meeting last October, to produce at regular intervals, and which we are able to do now through the member whose generosity has provided us with our duplicating machine. She prefers to remain anonymous, we know, but we wish to make public, as all of you would want us to do, our most sincere thanks and grateful appreciation of her gift. It has already enlarged our capacities and enriched our activities.
One of our purposes in this Newsletter is to keep members in touch with information as it comes to light, from outsiders as in the letters below, and from our meetings, field days and our own discoveries. All members can contribute in the last-named way by sending in anything which they are told or which they perceive for themselves anything, however meagre, however absurd, may have a grain of truth in it or lead to a grain of truth, and here ‘it call be recorded so that it wi1l be available for future use.

Our other purpose is to report local history as it is happening. Our landscape is being changed by house building, road alterations and new agricultural methods. Let us know about such activities in your parish. And, equally important, about your parochial life, which is affected by these activities and affects them.

Recently I read some words which appealed very much to me, and I hope you will appreciate them, too. They come from “The Historian’s Craft” by the distinguished French historian, Marc Bloch: ‘Behind the features of the landscape, behind tools or machinery, behind what appears to be the most formalized written documents, and behind institutions, which seem almost entirely detached from their founders, there are men, and it is men that history seeks to grasp. Failing that, it will be at best but an exercise in erudition. The good historian is like the giant of the fairy tale. He knows that wherever he catches the scent of human flesh, there his quarry lies.’

If you catch that scent, in a legend, in the tales of old people, in a letter or any other kind of document, please share it with us all through this Newsletter. And so that our descendants may smell our flesh lay them a warm trail with your observations of our present life recorded here.

Among the many reactions to our book, “Bromyard: A Local History” are letters from Dr J. Wells, who practised here for sixteen years and now in his ninetieth year lives Whitchurch, Cardiff, and his son Mr. John Wells, who married the daughter of the late Mr. W.T. Barneby of  Saltmarshe Castle. Both correspondents question our use of the name, Tower House, for their old home, Mr. Wells saying, ‘We called it Tower Hill House and as such it appeared in the telephone directory, etc. First Miss Woodhouse and later Mr. Foster, a bank manager, lived above us in Tower House.’

Dr. Wells gives the following interesting account, of his restorations of the house:

‘I came to Bromyard in 1920 and bought  what I understood as Tower Hill House from Father Denys Mathieu, O.S.B. for  a very small sum. When I bought the house it was covered with a layer of stucco of a greyish colour, up to the level where the ornamental woodwork lies beneath the eaves. The N.E. side contained one sash window one on each floor; the N.  side the same. There were four large rooms all; looking onto the street. The one on the left side of the front door upstairs, was a very handsome room panelled to the ceiling with old oak square panels, made with an adze, and a magnificent oak floor of very wide and thick boards. The original fireplace had been replaced by a much  later one. The other upstairs room was also panelled, but with very large panels at a much later date. The left hand downstairs room with an enormous door was plastered and has a large plaster ornament on the ceiling, and a very fine Adam type mantlepiece. The other room had the original open fire, filled in with an erection of the very handsome bedpost. This we afterwards removed and revealed the open fireplace. The room was not plastered on  road side but the outside woodwork was visible.

‘During one winter, the stucco came off from under the window of the panelled room and revealed two beams; on the strength of this, I took the risk and employed a local bricklayer, Thomas Handley, to strip the whole house and found it was a black and white house, made  of large and smaller beams, with plastered oak laths in between them, covered with a heavy plaster outside and in containing a large amount of hair.        Mr. Handley renovated many of the larger beams which had rotted under the stucco, with concrete and Mr. Barneby very kindly gave us some oak for the smaller one; the whole, was then creosoted and painted like it looks now. When the stucco was removed from around the two sash windows to the left of the front -door the shape of the original windows was located by the position of the beans.  The windows on the right hand side had apparently never been altered. I presume the four sash windows were put in late in the eighteenth or early in the nineteenth century.

‘Father Denys could tell me nothing about the history of the house, but that when he cleaned it, he had found evidence that it had been used to store grain. With reference to the tradition that Charles I slept there I was told that he was the guest of Mrs. Baynham but slept at the Bishop’s Palace. As soon as the work of changing the outside of the house was finished I had a letter from the Board of Works in London asking me if I was willing to have the house registered as a house of historic interest, which I agreed to, so I presume it is still and the panels may not be removed.

‘The original staircase had been removed. The house as it now is was altered to make it appear as it was in 1630 except there was only one gable window to the attic then.’

The Bromyard Bushel

Of the Bromyard Bushel Dr. Wells says:  ‘ … it was in the possession of Miss Davies of Broad Street, and she gave it to me as I was living in Mr. Baynham’s house. I have a snapshot of both the big rooms, in the parlour is the bushel beside the Adam fireplace as a log basket and the panelling can be seen in the other. I gave it to the church when I left in June 1936.’

Mr. Wells mentions that Miss Davies gave the Bushel to his father, and continues: ‘Miss Davis was the sister of Mr. Davis of Davis & Owen, grocers, whose shop was next door (that is to where Miss Davies lived – Ed.), on the corner of Frog Lane. Mr. Owen moved after Mr. Davis’s death to a shop near the Square, between I think the jeweller and Mrs. Passey, a baker. My father had his surgery in 26, after Miss Davis moved up the New Road. I cannot tell you how the bushel came to Miss Davis.’

But another correspondent, Miss Joan Hatton, of Hereford, does have some information on the matter. She writes:

‘My old friend, Miss Miriam Davies, was the daughter of Mr. James Davies who owned a successful grocery and provision business in Broad Street, No.10 then, at the top of Frog Lane. His warehouse and private garden extended down the lane as far as the tanyard premises. The Bromyard Bushel was discovered in the garden acting as a water butt. It was rescued and carefully preserved, in the house. It was thought to have come from Tower Hill probably because of the name of Baynham inscribed upon the rim. Mr. J. Davies and his wife were members of the Society of Friends and must have attended Meetings at the old Meeting House of which I knew nothing.’

How fascinating is the problem of how the Bushel got into the garden in Frog Lane. The shop mentioned by Mr. Wells to which Mr. Owen moved is the one now occupied by Mr. Arrowsmith.

At our March meeting Mr. H.J. Powell, F.R.I.B.A., gave us a very interesting illustrated talk on church architecture in this county. He only touched lightly on churches in this area, suggesting that it was doubtful that the blocked north doorway at Tedstone Delamere and the figure of St. Peter above the south door of Bromyard Church were in fact Saxon. There were no known Saxon churches in the county.

Among the influences on ecclesiastical architecture Mr. Powell mentioned the lack of money in this county, which meant that wholesale rebuilding did not take place, but that the nucleus of a church was kept and it was altered and added to over the centuries. Another factor was the materials available locally, old red sandstone and timber. The former varied in weathering quality and appearance,

There were quite a number of detached towers in Herefordshire, far more than elsewhere. Some were built as defences, some because of the lie of the land, and the reason for some was financial, such as the one at Pembridge whose church re-building coincided with the Black Death.


by Mildred Shepherd
In my talk to the Society at the Hop Pole in February I described an old lane between Whitbourne and Bromyard – still extant as footpath or bridleway for most of its length passing through the old crossroads in Big Meadow on Bradburns Farm at Whitbourne, passing the Moors, The Home House and Old Brockhampton, through Warren Wood, down the Burying Lane and so to Bromyard. I expressed the belief that the name ‘Whitbourne’ meant the stream on the salt-away (Wick, Whit and Wyche in many contexts denoting salt); and that this lane was the way salt was taken to Bromyard in the Middle Ages, and very possibly earlier as there are tracks, field paths and roads continuing from Bromyard’s crossing over the Frome to align on to the Iron Age Settlement of Risbury Camp.

After the talk Mrs. D.K. Evans of Tower Hill made a very valuable contribution to the study of the origins of the old ways round Bromyard when she told us that she remembered her husband saying that a building where the Holly Tree Inn now stands, at the junction of the Burying Lane and the Kidderminster road, was the place where salt for the town was stored in days gone by. This bears out my assumption that the old lane from Whitbourne was a salt-way. The store was probably at the inn as this would provide food, water and rest for the pack-horses after they had been unloaded, and the same for the men who brought them.

Having heard where the salt was stored for Bromyard, I should be very interested in finding: nut where the wool store was. I am hoping to work on the wool trail this year, and from the direction I am told it came in, I consider the wool must have been stored in the King’s Arms yard. Could the origin of this very large yard have been to accommodate the long strings of pack- horses while they were being unloaded? I should be most grateful if anyone could throw any light on the subject.

On our outing on 11th May we walked part of the green lane as it goes – with interruptions – through Whitbourne Parish from the ford over the Teme, up the section known as Boat Lane to the packhorse bridge over the Whitbourne Brook; after which we walked over the green cross-roads in the Big Field. We then drove up to the right-of-way across the field known as The Park.

Risbury Camp
Then we went on to Risbury, a fortified settlement 11 miles west of Bromyard in the parish of. Humber, and thought possibly to have been built by Caractacus during his last stand against the Romans in the West (Woolhope Transactions, 1936, p.xviii). It covers approximately 25 acres and now contains two orchards. It has a particularly high vallum and fosse enclosing a large oval of 11 acres of flat ground, and seems to have been extended with a lower bank and ditch enclosing the second, and outer, orchard.

We went in by the S.E. entrance, and after tea under the apple blossom, divided into two groups and. ‘walked the ramparts, i.e. along the narrow top of the inner vallum, right round. Situated at the confluence of the Holly and Humber Brooks, the camp’s defences are helped on three sides by streams, probably once marshy, and an occasional scarp, but on the east side it abuts on rolling land as at Wall Hills. The southern half of the inner vallum is particularly high to this day, which may be due to its sheltered position from wind and weather erosion, and also it is covered with trees whose roots help to bind the soil. It is a most interesting place and we hope to learn more about it. Mrs. McCulloch tells me it is given in the Victoria County History of 1908 which gives measurements and mentions stonework found within the valium at a place which was dug. Any more recent findings about it we should be very glad to hear.

Our last visit was to Risbury Court Farm on whose land the camp is, a fine 18th century house with an interesting old 17th Century farmhouse behind it.

by Phyllis D. Williams

The Society has, since its inception, enjoyed four walks, 1ooking at identified deserted Village sites and some unidentified ones in this area. We were accompanied on each occasion by Miss Rosamund Hickling, B.A.

Edwin Ralph, SO 575644.  There is a circular Sited site, remains of fishponds, and plentiful earthworks showing some house platforms in the fields around St. Michael’s Church. Townsend Farm and Pound Farm are near the site. There is a raised bank, in parts ten to twelve feet wide and two feet six inches high which extends north-east along a hedge line SO 574642.

Collington, SO 674642. Small irregular square moated area on flat ground south and below 18th century Castle Farm House, fish ponds north west of moated area. Further earthworks can be seen in fields 50 602649. Underhill Farm SO 599649 has a Pound meadow and Pound meadow hopyard. This farmyard could well have been part of the village, as could other houses including the Parsonage and Blacksmith’s Shop which lie either side the B42l4 between Castle Farm and Underhill. Interesting banks and earthworks can be seen SO 598649, where a roadway leads to a plateau above the 500 foot contour.

Tedstone Court, Tedstone Delamere, SO 587694, has Georgian cellers beneath a house of later period and stands within a medium sized moated area now incorporated into the garden. South-east stands St. James’s Church; all round the church are extensive earthworks showing house platforms, hollow ways and fishponds. A very well defined and interesting site.

Tedney, Whitbourne, SO 589726. ‘There is documentary evidence for the village of Tedney which is mentioned in ‘manorial records of the Manor of Whitbourne. Pithouse Farm which still stands was within the village so would have been the restored house to the north west. House platforms, croft boundaries and hollow ways can be seen in the field south and east of Pithouse farmhouse and buildings, the interior of this farmhouse is most interesting with moulded ceiling beams of about 1625.

Church House Farm, Pencombe, SO 537575. Large early 17th century, stone house, the parlour at the east end of the house. It is said to have been a chapel at one time, has moulded beams and a cellar beneath. Earthworks in the field to the south of the house seem to be house platforms and hollow ways; there were more marked earthworks in this field until leveled some years ago by a bulldozer. Documentary records for land in Pencombe include the fol1owing:

1334  –  John, son of Nicholas de Cimiterio, inherits land including a messuage and half a hide of land in Chirwoode for 12d a year.

1369  –  John le Wilde holds a carrucate once Thomas de Howeton’s in Churchyard for 15 shillings a year.

1403 –  John Marssh demised lands and tenements in le Chircheord to Richard Rouden and others.

Wacton Court, SO 575615. A ruined church lies to the east of the court, north of the court house and buildings is a motte. There are earthwork’s between the motte and the church.

Rowden Abbey, Winslow, SO 564632. It is unlikely there has ever been an abbey on this site, more likely is the suggestion that the name is a corruption of D’Abitot and the estate may have belonged at one time to the family. There were two estates at Rowden recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086. Here again there is a well defined hollow way with many indeterminate earthworks which stretch almost to Wicton Farmhouse.

Rowden Mill. SO 566629. Timber-framed house built about 1600, some of the mill machinery still in position.

Wicton, Bredenbury, SO 559629. An early 17th century farm­house, with both close set and ornamental timber framing, fine chamfered ceiling beams in most rooms. This farm may well have been the centre of a small manorial estate with a hamlet. There is documentary evidence for Wicton Mill, but no significant’ earthworks can be seen.

Upper Norton Farm, SO 581681. There are extensive earthworks in fields to the north and east of the house’ and buildings, some of this disturbance could be landslip but there are also clear house platforms and hollow ways. Upper Norton farmhouse actually faces onto one of the hollow ways and could well be one of the village houses, present house was built about 1700, in brick with band course, interior has fine chamfered ceiling beams and exposed timbers in the attic bedrooms.

Cockalay, SO 579684, could well be another house site at the south east end of the village of Norton. An entry in the Manorial records for the Manor of Bromyard April 1749 records that land part of Nether Cockalay and Whethurst lay in the village of Norton, The farm house of Cockalay is now deserted, the principal room with a moulded ceiling beam date a from the first quarter of the 17th century and is very well built with an original window still in position, parts of the house could be earlier. The unusual name probably means the ‘clearing of the’ cocks’ or ‘place where the wood cocks play ‘

Vinchurch Wood, SO 582682, extending north and east from this point. The earlier spelling is Yinck Church. It is unlikely there was a church here so this could be a corruption of O.E. Crowco meaning a barrow and Yinck which could be a corruption of 0.E. Ing meaning a hill, so giving a ‘barrow hill’. There is an interesting mound about SO 584687 which before knowing about the significance of the name the party wondered could be a motte or a burial mound. The large stones within the wood appear to be natural features the result of land slip. To the south of the wood and near the D.M.V. is a medieval fishpond.

Hardwick Manor, Winslow, SO 556643. 18th century stone house at one time the home of the Hardwick family. There were Hardwick’s of Hardwick, Bromyard, in 1575. Hollow ways, house platforms and earthworks, one of which is a pillow mound (a cultivated rabbit warren) extend from Hardwick Manor south-eastwards to a bridge over the stream and over the field SO 553645 which may represent. Over Hardwick.

Hardwick Mill, SO 553643, was, prior to 1806, part of the Hardwick Manor Estate.

The Wells, Winslow, SO 54O623, large rectangular moated site, moat now partially filled in. The following extract from Duncumb’s “History of the County of Hereford, Volume l” may have some connection: Sir Richard de Welles is listed amongst the knights of the County of Hereford who served in the Wars of Edward I.’ In 1575 Thomas Bowley held The Wells owing yearly to the Bishop of Hereford, who was Lord of the Manor of Bromyard; the token rent of one red rose. The present large farmhouse was built by Colonel Heygate in 1904.

Upper and Lower Winslow. An Anglo-Saxon name probably meaning Wynna’s burial place. Very deep hollow way, SO 532617, extending in a north/south direction between the two farm-houses; earthworks in field to west of this hollow way are probably remains of the village of Winslow which could have extended between these two remaining farm-houses. Lower Winslow is basically a 17th century timber-framed house with later additions.

The Society wish to thank Miss Hickling for her help in identifying these sites, and hope she will accompany us on future explorations. It does seem there wore a considerable number of nucleated settlements in the Bromyard area that are now marked by just one or two farm-houses.


As can be seen from both Miss Shepherd’s and Mrs. Williams’s articles we have been able to range freely over the countryside in our explorations. The Society thanks all those people who have made this possible by allowing us to explore their land and their houses, we are very grateful for their generosity.

Mr. I.O. Capper, a Society member, has been working for some years on the Bromyard Parish Registers, and has now had six copies made dating from 1538, a bound set of which he has presented to Bromyard Church where they will be available for our use. The Society will have cause to thank Mr. Capper for his industry and generosity in the future. He was helped by Mrs. Muriel Tonkin who transcribed some of the early registers, and has written an introduction to the work. Another Society member, Mrs. Mary Colville of Alfrick, has been working for eighteen months indexing the registers which she hopes to complete in another eighteen months.

Miss E.D. Pearson has written a pamphlet for Bromyard Church on the history of the building, and on the front of it is a photograph by Miss M.F. Collins.

Mrs. P.D. Williams spoke to the Woolhope Club on the Bishop’s Manor of Whitbourne on 13th March.

For the past few weeks some members have been attending classes given by Mr. J.G. Hillaby on the origins and growth of Bromyard. We have been widening our horizons by considering the subject in relation to Ross and Ledbury, and hope to visit the latter on 10th June.

Future Classes – Arrangements are being made for Mrs. M.A. Gelling, M.A., to hold a course of fortnightly classes on the history of place names, beginning in the autumn. These classes will alternate with fortnightly classes for those interested in continuing to research with Mr. Hillaby.

Mrs. G. Richards of Kelsey, Tedstone Wafre, has given the Society three volumes of the North Frome Deanery Magazine (now the Bromyard Deanery) for 1894, 1895 and 1896. Mr.and Mrs. L.A. Flint have found a Norton alms-house rent book which they have passed on to us. We thank Mrs. Richards and Mr. and Mrs. Flint for their interest.

Editor’s Note – I am hoping to bring out the next Newsletter in time for the annual general meeting on 27th October. If you have a contribution for it, or some suggestion to make about the Newsletter as such (and suggestions are welcomed far this first Newsletter is in the nature of an experiment) please send it to me by 30th September. The address is Bird’ s Eye, 12 Highwell Lane, Bromyard. It is now my turn to express thanks, to my assistants for all their help and Mrs. Jean Hopkinson for cutting the stencils.