Welcome to the LHS home page On this page you will find news and updates of our activities,  pictures of general or specific interest, information relating to our area, trivia – in short anything that might interest you as a member or friend of the Leintwardine History Society.


Review update

The introduction of Deer Parks into the English landscape was very much an activity of the barons who came over with William the Conqueror. This was particularly the case in the Marches areas where many were given estates by the King. Shropshire especially and Herefordshire show numerous deer parks established in the 12th century and later. It appears to have been a virtual requirement of these nobles and knights to establish a park. They gave opportunities for hunting, a favourite sport, and of course one which added skills useful in the almost constant violence and minor wars of the period, provender – venison being a most favoured meat, and prized for the exclusive nature of the well guarded deer in the parks, and prestige – only the higher members of this society could aspire to such a possession.

Sandra also showed that display and social activity also came to feature in the parks. Stands were erected for spectators to view the kills, some very elaborate and permanent structures, enabling the ladies to participate in this very male activity. In some cases, painted screens imitating the landscape were erected and the deer driven through them to be displayed to the onlookers before being cut down.

The Deer Park continued for some centuries as a prized feature of estates, and while these declined in providing actual hunting facilities, it remained a landscape feature through to the 18th century and later. Sandra quoted some examples which still exist, but very few now are stocked.

Brampton Bryan is interestingly one of the surviving parks, its features in the landscape being maintained, but no longer with deer.

Sandra’s research work continues in exploring this significant factor in our landscape, and how it reflects on hierarchy and social development over the centuries.




18th February LHS talk

The Noble Women in the life of Roger Mortimer 1287-1330

By John Grove

This talk focused on four key women in the Mortimer story: Matilda de Braose (1226-1301); Margaret De Fiennes (1270-1334); Joan De Geneville (1286-1356); and Queen Isabella the fair(1296-1358) and ended with slides of the tomb of Blanche Mortimer his daughter in Much Marcle. The tomb has recently been opened and her body found wrapped in lead. John helped us reflect on the influences on the most famous member of the Mortimer family. He explored the possibility that his Mother and Grandmother had brought him up with tales of his grandfather, great grandfather and father. We heard about the mighty William Marshal, the King’s champion; the infidelity of Llewellyn the Great’s wife; the acquisition of great lands through marriages; the founding of St Peter’s chapel in Ludlow, after Roger’s escape from the Tower of London and wonderful details of Roger’s personal possessions including green bedcovers with owls, curtains with griffins and popinjays! And of course the great love affair with the Queen who pleaded for Roger’s life, ‘Have pity on the gentle Mortimer’ Finally we heard of a dispute between Roger’s mistress, Isabella and his wife, Joan about where Roger should be buried.

JH February 2015


Dorstone: a new series of talks – the first has taken place and participants were really impressed

Dorstone History Society

Halls of the Dead 2015

Series of 4 talks


Wednesday 1st July

Thinking about Neolithic long barrows: some Dorstone Hill connections’ – Prof. Julian Thomas

Monday 6th July

‘Significant places: the Mesolithic inheritance of the Golden Valley Neolithic’ – Keith Ray

Thursday 16th July

‘Researching Golden Valley ancient landscapes: digital and survey studies’ – Lucie Dingwall and Tim Hoverd

Thursday 23rd July

‘The Neolithic period at Dorstone Hill: the story so far’ -Keith Ray and Julian Thomas

Dorstone Village Hall


Admission – £1 (to cover Hall costs)



Last Stand on Redan Ridge, 18th-25th Nov 1916

A talk by Peter Weston

Peter Weston’s interest in Redan Ridge, part of the Battle of the Somme, grew from a battlefield trip in his youth. Redan Cemetery, one of many established by the CWGC, contained the names of 50 Herefordshire men; surprisingly as nearly all had been deployed in Egypt and Gallipoli. His researches found that men from the Herefordshire Regiment, as battalions were depleted by casualties, had been transferred to the Borders, a regiment created by the Earl of Lonsdale, whose yellow ‘colours’ incidentally led to the yellow in the AA badge which he also instituted.

The Battle of the Somme began in July and Allied forces were surprised by the strength of the German response with 60,000 casualties (19,000 dead) in a single day; it was still being fought in November when the Herefordshires arrived there.

On 18th November one last push was planned at Redon Ridge, high ground held by the Germans. As the men reach the 2nd line they were cut off by the Germans retaking the 1st line, and so 120 soldiers were trapped, without supplies. Peter vividly described their struggle to survive for an incredible eight days, getting water from shellholes, tending the wounded without any medical supplies, but still managing to capture German rifles and take eight prisoners, before eventually taken prisoner themselves. Only 15 unwounded men staggered from the trench, out of around 60 survivors.

It is still not known why their stamina and courage went without recognition after the war and Peter has attempted to honour them by writing his book of this heroic last stand.

VS June 2015



The Hall was built in 1714 by Smith of Warwick for the Actons of nearby Morville. It is listed Grade 1, as a fine example of architecture from the Queen Anne period’, said our introductory notes. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the perfectly proportioned dower house was never lived in for two centuries: no-one knows why – a shortage of dowagers perhaps?? But as a result there are no Georgian or Victorian modifications to the structure.

So what would you expect to find behind the symmetry of the Queen Anne façade?

Elegant furniture of the period, fine portraits? But not perhaps to be greeted by a baboon swinging from the chandelier and a full size rhino head dominating the staircase. The Kennedy family have lived here for three generations and it rapidly emerged that Huw Kennedy, father of the present owner, has been an antique dealer and avid collector with eclectic tastes and a particular interest in taxidermy and weaponry.   His impressive collection of ceremonial halberds spanning two centuries lines the main hall. Animals are everywhere, though fortunately the present collection are dead and stuffed and mostly foreign. (‘While the place was empty, a local farmer kept his pigs here in the main hall: that loose flagstone is over the well so they could lower a bucket.’) Early taxidermy, with antelope horns and antlers mounted on carved wooden heads, competes with later more ambitious specimens.

Mounting the stairs under the watchful eye of a crocodile (‘it used to hang across our dining table when I was a child’), Tom Kennedy pushed the massive rhino’s snout to one side, revealing a drinks cabinet in the skull: ‘it hung in the main bedroom – very handy’.

On the first floor landing, the head (and neck!) of a giraffe meets the visitor with glassy gaze: ‘there used to be a complete one with its feet in the hall and its head over the banisters’. The original interior panelling remains and there is plenty of elegant furniture in the beautifully proportioned rooms– a Gillows four-poster, superb Chinese and Japanese cabinets containing a delightful and informal miscellany of family memorabilia. Shelving and a stone fireplace salvaged from Tettenhall grace the library. There are good portraits and very interesting early satirical paintings of animals engaging in human activities, and vice versa: ‘the nearest he could get to acquiring a Breughel’. A more gruesome 16th century French painting provided propaganda to justify the St Bartholomew massacre of the Huguenots.

This is very much a family house ‘As a family, most of us are quite good at making things’. As children, Tom and his brother supplemented the imposing Chinese ceramic figures in every ground floor room with neatly applied moustaches of dog hairs, giving them a slightly louche air. Following the family penchant for taxidermy, as teenagers they designed and crafted squirrels in glass cases, indulging in a drinking orgy and other antics. A modern design of ‘chandelier’ decorated with exotic shells is his father’s latest creation. At the opposite extreme, exquisite hand painted wall paper in a bedroom was completed by an aunt.

Tom Kennedy and his wife Louisa are talented artists and sculptors. They are foremost specialists in scagliola: we admired table tops of intricate inlay patterns and more flowing modern designs.

After tea, we enjoyed peace and sunshine in the restored gardens and visited the C14th church. Fine C18th monuments to the Actons are complemented by a modern wood tympanum with an agricultural theme, installed at the Millennium and superbly carved by local artist Andrew Pearson, well known to Leintwardiners.

Altogether a fascinating excursion into unspoilt C18th architecture, the very personal world of a dedicated– not to say eccentric – collector and a family of artists and craftsmen.

GS June 2015


Herefordshire Archaeology Presents

 A Seventeenth Annual Symposium

 Rising to the Challenge: Archaeology, Heritage and Conservation in Herefordshire 2015


Saturday 30th May 2015

From 9.30am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 4.30pm

 At Herefordshire Archives & Record Centre

 Fir Tree Lane, Rotherwas, HR2 6LA

 Ticket Price – £5

 Please be aware that tickets have to be pre-booked, there will be no ticket sales on the door.

 Free Parking, disabled access available


Please contact Tim Hoverd on 01432 383 352 or thoverd@herefordshire.gov.uk at Herefordshire Archaeology to book your ticket

Jo Catling (new on the LHS Committee) adds:

 I’m going to down for the afternoon session if anyone would like a lift (call 01547540235).  Tim Hoverd has given me the following information: Tickets include coffee and biscuits in the mid -morning or mid-afternoon break

The programme will comprise a session looking at HARC , the Archive Service, the Museum Service and The Conservation section ​(including Herefordshire Archaeology) ​– the idea of this is to clear up the confusion which exists concerning who works in which section, where they are based and what capabilities still exist in these services. There will then be a break followed by the second session which will be just Archaeology – it will be a description of the service –past present and future and a round up of projects and fieldwork undertaken in the county.



Brampton Bryan Visit

 On Friday May 8th, Edward and Victoria Harley kindly opened their house at Brampton Bryan to representatives from local history societies throughout Herefordshire. Edward Harley has been appointed High Sheriff of Herefordshire for 2015-2016. There have been High Sheriffs in the county for as long as there have been Harleys, which is saying something! The duties of a High Sheriff include the encouragement of local voluntary sector organisations. Paddy Campbell and I represented Leintwardine and thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating talks and tour (not to mention the glass of wine and canapés afterwards!). The visit focused on the house rather than the castle, and sadly the inclement weather kept us indoors, with tantalising glimpses through the windows of the beautiful prospects of ruins, gardens and grounds. The place has a fascinating history, of course. Apparently one of the drawbacks of owning land that has been in your family through an unbroken line from the Norman Conquest to the present day is the lack of written deeds stating your ownership! Edward Harley’s talk touched on his ancestor Brilliana, who so ably held the castle against Royalist siege during the Civil War during the absence of her husband and beloved son Ned, but of course the house dates from after her time, being built to replace the castle, ruined after her death when the household finally capitulated. I was impressed by a beautiful wooden staircase with wonderful carved, hollow newels which is believed to have been recycled from the castle.I cannot begin to write about the beautiful things we saw in the house – I’m bound to miss out something significant. There’s a wealth of family portraits, including a Hogarth painting, fascinating documents (including some of Brilliana’s letters) and even clothing. The real joy was to tour a house still lived in, where every artefact has its family story attached: a material timeline through nearly 1,000 years of history. Edward and Victoria are passionate and deeply knowledgeable custodians of Brampton Bryan, and most welcoming to their visitors. The Harleys do hold these events from time to time, so perhaps you will be fortunate enough to represent the society on a future occasion – as good a reason as any for volunteering on the committee! Our warm thanks are due to the Harleys for their general support of our society as well as their hospitality on the day. 19/5/2015 PK


AGM May 20th 7.00 for 7.30 p.m. in the Community Hall of the Leintwardine Centre It’s the AGM next Wednesday and we hope there will be a good turn-out. We have introduced two new ideas for the AGM in an attempt to leaven the necessary business side of the meeting!   The first is a short talk by a committee member, Viv Simkin, on a topic we think you will find interesting – namely, the process of researching your own family history.  The second innovation is an opportunity at the end of the meeting for your feedback on how the society is run. There will be free refreshments.  


Last Orders



LAST ORDERS: LOCAL FAMILIES ON THE BRINK OF WAR has 32 pages with around 80 illustrations, in colour where appropriate, and includes the stories of many local families. If features the ladies who set up the VAD Hospital in the village,and Ralph Harley’s letters and photographs sent home to his fiancee from the Front, and never developed until they were printed for the exhibirion. It tells the story of  the Malpas family, who sent three sons off to war, each to a different destiny. Ernest Meredith, shop keeper and journalist, left us a fascinating account of daily doings in Leintwardine and the surrounding villages. The History Society Archive has supplied a quantity of images which capture the atmosphere and the appearance of people and places in the first quarter of the 20th century. COPIES OF THE BOOK CAN BE OBTAINED IN THE VILLAGE HALL FROM THE HISTORY  ROOM ON TUESDAY MORNINGS,  AT THE HISTORY MEETING EVERY THIRD WEDNESDAY,  AND ON LINE FROM https://leintwardinehs.wordpress.com ALSO AT LEINTWARDINE POST OFFICE AND AT THE GARAGE. Price: £8.00. members £7.00  



Many interesting and unusual mills in Herefordshire and Shropshire will be working and open to the public

For further details please see

http://www.nationalmillsweekend.co.uk or contact Alan Stoyel (01544-230235).     


New Publication

You may remember that one of the highlights of the LHS WWI event last Autumn was a concert in St Mary Magdalene. A recording is now available, for free (but feel free to give a small donation if you like) at the History Room during opening hours or by post (p&p) see details on the publications page.



Brian Hatton and the Changing Landscape.

A talk by Robin Thorndyke

By LHS standards, this was a poorly attended meeting – which is a pity, as both the speaker and the subject deserve a wider audience. Brian Hatton was an artist of national and international importance whose work is not widely known, and whose outstanding talent was snuffed out during the First World War.  Born into a family of leather merchants in Hereford in 1887, Brian Hatton’s early artistic ability was recognised when, at the age of 10, he won the Royal Drawing Society’s national competition for entrants up to the age of 20. He went on to win this competition several more times, and his early work was admired and encouraged by the elderly distinguished Victorian artist G F Watts. After training in Oxford, Arbroath and Paris, Hatton worked professionally from his family home in Broomy Hill, Hereford, mainly undertaking portrait commissions. He later opened a studio in London.  The speaker, Robin Thorndyke, became interested in the artist while working as a volunteer at Hereford’s Museum, Resource and Learning Centre, which holds 1040 surviving works by Hatton. In this absorbing and well-researched talk, Robin Thorndyke concentrated on Hatton’s landscape paintings made in the Hereford parish of Breinton. Through local knowledge and detective work, the speaker has identified the exact spot from which the artist viewed each scene in the first decade of the twentieth century, and showed us recent photographs of the same rural landscapes a century later. The remarkable conclusion was that scenically very little has changed!  A major exhibition of Hatton’s work is planned for 2016, to mark the centenary of his death in action. Meanwhile, those who missed this fascinating talk may wish to visit the Brian Hatton Learning Resource at http://brianhatton.herefordshire.gov.uk/  TH 18 March 2015


More News from The Mortimer Society

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The Mortimer History Society

Annual Conference

“Law and Order in Medieval England”

Saturday, May 16th

The Academy, Marlbrook Road, Hereford, HR2 7NG

On his accession in 1199, King John inherited a vast empire which stretched from the south of France to England, and parts of Wales and Ireland. By the time he died in 1216, he had lost most of his French lands, and was in the midst of a civil war against many of his own barons. Unrest led to his reluctant signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the charter of demands made by his rebellious barons. This conference will consider who held power in early medieval England, Normandy and the Marches and how it affected various sections of society.  

“The Anglo-Norman Aristocracy 1066-1215”

Professor Daniel Power (University of Swansea)


“King John and William Marshall”

Elizabeth Chadwick (award-winning historical novelist)


“The Magna Carta Project”

Professor David Carpenter (King’s College, London)


“Women & the law in the age of Magna Carta”

Dr Matthew Stevens (University of Swansea)


“Crime, Punishment, Torture & Execution”

The Royal Executioner


Tickets (includes lunch): Members £25 Non-Members £30

See the website for full details and to purchase tickets




John Grove from the Mortimer History Society has sent us the draft list of places to be included in a potential “Mortimer History Trail”. Leintwardine is on the list and if you want to know more or get involved please check developments on the MHS website http://www.mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk/    

Mortimer Country History Trail

  1. Ludlow

Ludlow Castle, Mortimer’s additions, St. Mary’s Chapel, St. Lawrence’s Church

  1. Wigmore

Wigmore Castle, St. James’ Church, St Giles, Pipe Aston, St. John the Baptist & St. Alkmund, Aymestrey

  1. Richard’s Castle

Mortimer branch line, St Bartholomews, the Castle

  1. Leintwardine

St Mary Magdalene, Mortimer Chapel, furnishings from Wigmore Abbey

  1. Orleton

St George’s Church, Mortimer links, Adam of Orleton

  1. Kingsland

St. Michael’s and All Angels, Battle of Mortimer’s Cross

  1. Shobdon

St. John’s Church, Shobdon Arches and Herefordshire sculptors

  1. Lingen

St. Michael’s Church, Castle site, Limebrook Priory ruins

  1. Pembridge

St. Mary’s Church, Mortimer links, Castle site

  1. Presteigne

St. Andrew’s Church, Mortimer links, shield, chapel, Stapleton Castle, Battle of Bryn Glas

John Grove 9 Preston Brook Close Ledbury HR8 2FL 01531 631575 john.grove37@gmail.com



     21st.  JANUARY 2015 LECTURE – by WENDY BROGDEN 
A good attendance of History Society members was treated to an enthusiastic and thought provoking insight into this period of our
local area history by Wendy Brogden, an erstwhile Geographer, who in retirement (to Corvedale) has embarked on a Doctorate with Birmingham University, on the subject broadly of the impact and reactions of “ordinary people” in Herefordshire & the Marches to the sweeping  changes , particularly to religious life and thinking, that we call the Reformation.
She started with a quick insight into the variety of sources for her investigations, from Stained Glass windows, and other ecclesiastical
monuments and images (or lack of them) to Church Court Records
(in particular those for the itinerant visitations around the Diocese of Hereford) and the many Churchwarden’s Accounts for the various parishes.
The dates chosen for her review may best be contexted by some dates as follows:
1529……………..The Act of Annulment
1534……………..The Act of Supremacy
1536……………..Dissolution of the Monasteries
1547……………..Edward VI – Against Images
1558(to 1603).. Elizabeth 1st.
1570……………..Papal Bull against Elizabeth Ist.
1580s……………One Mathilda Harley recorded as Catholic Recusant.
1603……………..James 1st.
1605……………..Catholic Riots in Herefordshire.
1641……………..One Robert Harley recorded as breaking windows in Leintwardine Parish Church, and depositing the ungodly images in the river Teme.
Wendy’s theme was to show evidence of the slowness to change, or inertia to depart from the tenets and norms of the “Old Religion”, both on the part of parishioners, of various social levels (although the higher levels attract more accessible records than the lower!) as well as by significant numbers of the clergy.
Her thesis is in line with the (once thought revisionist) Historian Eamon Duffy (“The Stripping of the Altars” & “The Voices of Morville”), that the religious and social conservatism, of “the ordinary people”, in the West of England, and indeed in other rural fastnesses away from centres of
population, power and learning, combined to significantly impede the State’s wish to move the Country from the Catholic – now stigmatized as “Roman” religion, to Lutheran, Protestant, Puritan even, emphases of the newly established State “Church of England” by law established.
Continuing use of “Pray for the Soul” comments on memorials, and evidence of continuing pre-Reformation ideas, as for example the cult
of devotion to the “Five Wounds of Christ”,  serve to contribute to a picture of the country populace at large being dragged unwilling into
the Reformation, which perhaps helps us to understand what a tinderbox of warring attitudes and loyalties was in place ready for the Civil War, only a generation or so later.  
A picture of an embattled Bishop Scory of Hereford, describing the Cathedral Staff, as “rank Papists”, and complaining in the mid-1580s, that continuing “Popishness” was worse right across the social strata, perhaps only serves to underline the evidence of increasing confidence of Catholic
recusants from 1603 onwards.  So much so, that the Whitsun Riots  of 1605 were sparked by a dead recusant lady, having been refused burial 
in consecrated ground, but was nevertheless buried, with full “Catholic” rites, the ringleaders reported for it,  the Constable arresting one Leonard March, only to have him freed  by a posse of friends and sympathisers, who then took refuge within the boundaries of a “Civil Parish” – Alensmoor in South Herefordshire. It has to be said that the main area affected by this aggressive recusancy, appears to have been mostly in South Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire, by contrast with our end of the Marches, where there is but one record of a known recusant, at Walford, and one at Lydbury North (possibly under the influence of the nearby Catholic Recusants family at Plowden)
We departed replete with evocations of Reformation angst in the Marches, most of us to go home to the new Television drama series based on Hilary Mantell’s “Wolf Hall” – an entirely appropriate culmination.
So thanks to Wendy Brogden for bringing the period alive for us, and so locally, and we perhaps may look forward to her sharing more insights
from her researches in another year.
21/1/2015 BH

Haven i januar

A message from Rhys Griffiths, Senior Archivist, Herefordshire Archive Service:

Dear all,

Those of you who visited the site of the new Record Office last year and recall having to clamber up a ladder to the upper floors, might be curious to see how the building turned out. It has now been handed over to us and other services, including Archaeology, have already moved in. We are hoping to start the complicated process of moving the archives in at the end of March, but in the meantime we are holding a couple of public open days on Friday 30 January and Thursday 12 February, 10am – 3pm, which will incorporate regular tours of the building (no need to book). Do come along if you are able to and please spread the word. Please feel free to give us a ring on 01432 260750 for more information.

I look forward to seeing you at the new building.

With best regards,


Herefordshire Archive Service,  Harold Street, Hereford HR1 2QX

http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/archives Details concerning the progress of the new building can be found at https:https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/herefordshire-archives-and-records-centre/. ******************************************************************************************************************************************

The exhibition in the LHS museum is now closed. We hope to open again in February and will keep you posted.


Place Names in the Leintwardine area by John Freeman

A talk given at the LHS on 19 November 2014


John Freeman ranged comprehensively over north Herefordshire place names, mostly Old English in origin, admitting that some of them were still debateable amongst experts. Leintwardine itself, for example, in which the –wardine part comes from OE ‘worthy’ meaning enclosure, as in Wardens too, but the Leint part could be an old name for the Clun, or, as he prefers, from the root ‘lene’ implying a district of lowland or flood extending to include the two Leinthalls in its corners. The sixteen ‘ton’ place endings around are middle Saxon and denote these places dependence on the once royal estate of Leintwardine. As to the equally debatable Roman name variously cited as Branogenium (place of Branogenus, Celtic name denoting ‘born of raven’) or Bravonium (‘quern place’) he believes the latter to be a misreading of the former, and thus erroneous. Brandon Camp could also have its origins here or be interpreted as ‘hill (dun) of ‘broom’ (the plant). Many names describe landscape features, there being a multitude of names for ‘hill’, each denoting a particular shape as in ‘helde’ a sharp-edged hill found now as ‘Yeld’ and possibly hidden in the Rolls of Wigmore as ‘rough helde.’ Similarly, there are many names relating to woodlands especially in Bringewood, the same root as in Burrington, and Mocktree where although the first part has been said to mean ‘pigs’ and gives a quaint image of swine foraging in the woods, John Freeman concluded it remains a mystery. His research which although like a detective hunt amidst the clues of ancient maps and written records, nevertheless was hard work, he said, with much still to be discovered. He invited ideas as to the origin of Stormer, Jay and Todden.   VS November 2014


                                         Leintwardine before the Great War


In mid October, I stopped at Leintwardine on my way south from Yorkshire to my Bristol home, in order to be able to participate in the commemoration organised by the local history society around the theme of that village and the First World War. It was a pleasant evening when I arrived, and as I entered the main exhibition in the Community Hall the low sun was dappling the long row of panels that led you through the story of that war’s impact on this community. These panels offered a moving overview, with glimpses of personal stories alongside more general information, covering both the fighting abroad and the Home Front. The information about the VAD work in the village was particularly interesting, concentrating on the remarkable work women were able to do during the conflict. The panels ended with a lovely picture of youngsters walking symbolically into an uncertain future.

            In a second room we had the chance to explore personal stories, ranging from the Middle East front to the mud and terror in France. Here poignant details on large panels – letters written by a sister to her brother, ignorant of the fact he was already dead; a wife separated forever from her German husband who was interned and then repatriated – were arranged around glass cases containing a wealth of fascinating memorabilia.             The exhibition ran throughout the weekend, and during this time many other events were scheduled, ranging from poetry readings and cookery demonstrations to discussions about war diaries or the courage of conscientious objectors. The culmination was a packed concert in the village church. There can be none who were not moved when joining the singing of “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, or by the emotionally charged rendition of Vaughan William’s “Lark Ascending” which concluded that evening.             Returning to the exhibition for a second visit, as children played outside or ran around doing the special quiz, I noticed how slowly and reverently the many visitors progressed along the panels, unwilling to miss a word of the carefully scripted story. Clearly, the impact of that war still has the power to touch us all. It received a memorable acknowledgement in this Herefordshire village.   Peter Symes Clifton, Bristol 27 October 2014    


Out of the Land our Stories are born

The tales of three historic South Shropshire women, in song, poems and narration, featuring a choir of about 20 singers. Chester poet, Gll McEvoy has written the poems and Polly Bolton has written and arranged the songs. We are performing at Clungunford Church on Saturday Nov 8th at 7.30 and tickets can be reserved from me on 01584 823609. The women are;

SARAH BURTON nee Radnor was born in Clee St Margaret and baptised with her twin, Mary in 1766. She married Samuel Burton and had 5 children and lived at Skirmish Cottage, Cold Weston, and in her tiny cottage helped 54 illegitimate children come into the world, whose mothers would otherwise have been driven from their parishes. MOLLY MORGAN had an all together more exciting life than Sarah! She was born by the Sun Inn in Diddlebury in 1762 (where she was later tried for theft) and died in Australia in 1835 having twice been transported to Australia. A little light fingered, she was often in trouble but later became a land owner in Australia and donated to schools and hospitals, dying penniless aged 73. KATHERINE MORE born 1586, the youngest daughter of Jasper More in South Shropshire. A wealthy land owning family, the Mores had Lindley Hall, Shipton Hall and Larden Hall. Married to her younger cousin, Samuel More, she continued a liason with her lover, Jacob Blakeway, and was accused of bearing him four children. Tragically removed from her and sent on the Mayflower to the New World went Elinor 1612-1621, who survived a few months there, Jasper 1613 to 1620, Mary 1616-1620 who both died on the boat and Richard 1614-1695 who went on to witness the Salem witch trials. Polly Bolton


The Ultimate Sacrifice: John Arkwright and O Valiant Hearts.            

 A talk by Catherine Beale on October 15th, 2014 

Catherine Beale is well known to the History Society as a brilliant and well informed speaker, who has published several books, including Champagne and Shambles: the Arkwrights and the Country House in Crisis. She used all the knowledge she had gained to give us a fascinating insight into the life of John Arkwright from his days as a small child at Hampton Court to his later life at Kinsham Court, and as the author of the most loved hymn of the First World War.

John Arkwright showed promise as a writer at Eton, then at Oxford, and wrote about the Boer War to some acclaim. His fame, however, derives from the hymn, O Valiant Hearts, published in 1919, instantly popular with congregations, sung from then onwards more often than any other, and which has continued to form part of most commemorative services to this day.

Although the public loved the words, theologians were somewhat unhappy about the sentiments expressed in some of the verses. John Arkwright was, in fact, a non-believer, but he touched the feelings of the nation with his verses, and the disapproval of elements in the established Church did not stop the hymn growing ever more entrenched in the emotional heritage of the Great War. One verse, in particular, caused offense to some, and is rarely used in official ceremonies.     It reads:

Still stands his Cross from that dread hour to this,

 Like some bright star above the dark abyss;                                     

 Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes      

 Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.                                          

                                  NW 26 October 2014


War Walk on the Home Front.


Our rendez-vous is the Discovery Centre Craven Arms and our starting time is 11am on the 8th November.

Our route lies along the Onny first to Halford where the War Memorial Lych Gate offers us a tribute not only to the remarkable Miss Barker/Mrs Biggs but also to the railwaymen of Craven Arms. From there we follow the river downstream to Stokesay. In the church are two stained glass windows to Shropshire’s first aviator, Lt Edward Hotchkiss. He held the 79th flying certificate in the whole country. He was killed in 1912 during the first military manoeuvres to combine air with the men on the ground. The War Memorial by Storr-Barber of Leominster has several very unusual features including the names of all the men who went to the War.

We uncovered a very simple grave of the local postman, who became a very Big Gun. He was with a Siege Battery with two of the 9.2 inch naval guns mounted on rail waggons. Alas, he is part of our social history – in February 1919 he, his mother and 12 year-od niece died of the Spanish flu within a week.

There is no charge but should you wish to join us, I should be grateful if you could let me know either by e-mail or phone:

                           keithpybus@googlemail.com     01588 680530

In 2015 I am leading a walk either on the 18th or the 19th April from Stanton Lacy [Gallipoli VC] to Stokesay Court who that weekend will be marking with the Red Cross the Centenary of the opening of the Auxiliary Military Hospital there.



The panels showing Ralph Harley’s letters home to his fiancée, Rachel , have come back from the printer, ready to be hung for our exhibition beginning on October 17th. As a soldier in the First World War, Ralph moved from his normal role as a member of the historic family who owned extensive estates in and around Brampton Bryan for hundreds of years, to the front line in France and then in Mesopotamia. Full of detail about life during the times that there was a lull in the fighting, they reveal the activities and preoccupations of a man of his time. With the letters, there are snapshots, taken by Ralph Harley, and sent home as a roll of negatives. Most of these were never printed until now, and so we are seeing, for the first time, scenes of his friends relaxing, swimming in the River Ancre, making a picnic in the trenches and passing the hours in the barren land that stretched upstream from Basra. The Harley panels are part of the exhibition which contains letters, diaries and images of various people related to local residents. An Army Chaplain, a young girl who went out to entertain the troops, and a German internee are just three of the stories told. There are also many documents and artefacts to look at. The free exhibition runs from October 16th to the 20th from 10 – 5 each day in the Community Centre. Visit it along with another, which relates the stories of Leintwardine families on the brink of war. 

The full Programme for the World War I Event in Leintwardine 16th – 20th October is available on the Calendar page

All events are free

Deanne's poppies


Leintwardine History Society – meeting on September 16th.


Barney Rolfe-Smith on Colonel John Colvin.

  Barney Rolfe-Smith returned to the Society with a new study of local significance, following his previous talk on the period of exile in this area of Napoleon’s brother Louis Bonaparte.  This proved to be an insight into the life of a long term resident of Leintwardine, Colonel John Colvin, a man who stands as a classic life story of progress and service in the Empire, and then a dedicated public servant as an English gentleman and benefactor.  After a rapid but testing education in the East India Company’s military college, Addiscombe Place, which he entered at 14, he was on his way to Calcutta within a few days of passing his Public Examination arriving there in mid 1810, to receive further training until commissioned in 1811, as an Ensign, and still only 17 years old. This speed marked him out as one of the brighter recruits, and his survival in Calcutta over the first few years proved him to be fit to cope with a climate, which killed many within a short time. His career in India continued without any home leave for some 25 years, during which he was engaged obviously in some military activities, but more especially became an expert in drainage, canal building and major engineering works. He also involved himself in agriculture, and plant science. An interest in natural history and collection of fossils also occupied him. Promotion came at regular intervals until appointed Lieutenant Colonel shortly before he took home leave in 1837, praised for his efficiency and effectiveness particularly in the many large-scale drainage projects he had undertaken. Perhaps not originally intending to stay in England, he followed the established route of those who returned from India of marrying quite quickly on his return, and then made the decision to stay in England, based first in Ludlow, then after marriage in Elton Hall, and subsequently in Leintwardine House for the rest of his life, dying there in 1871. Barney detailed the many activities in which this tough and competent army officer, now an English gentleman, engaged – the management of the Ludlow Union poor house; Justice of the Peace; education – the Mechanics Institute in Ludlow and many other causes; fund raising for many purposes, military and civic; and intellectual and sporting pursuits, natural history and fishing. His support for Leintwardine has visible evidence in the old school rooms, now the Community Centre in which this talk took place, largely paid for by Col. Colvin, as others were somewhat reluctant actually to provide the money. This was an ambitious project designed for 250 children in a Free School. He continued his interest in horticulture, and was a supporter and organiser of several local shows, producing some prize vegetables himself. This was a man who involved himself in an almost breath-taking manner in everything of relevance in the area, as organiser and funder. He seems to have had very good abilities for pulling in others to help fund charitable and community projects. His military skills undoubtedly assisted this. Barney sketched out this busy and productive life with much interesting local detail and gave an insight into the natural dedication of this Victorian officer and gentleman to his communities, in India and the Marches, which showed much to admire. A very engaging piece of local and Empire history. DM September 2014  


Latest news about the Leintwardine WWI commemoration week in October 

Listen to  Nerissa Wilson, the Chair of the LHS, on youtube



If you did not have the possibility to hear the Story of the Malpas Brothers when it was first broadcast here is another chance: 


 Leintwardine, Herefordshire: From Forge to Frontline Duration: 03:17 At the start of the 20th Century, horses were essential to life in villages and towns across Britain – including Leintwardine. The Malpas family ran one of two blacksmiths on Watling Street in the middle of the village. William and Jane-Elizabeth had three sons; Sydney, Percy and John, known as Jack, and four daughters. Horses were essential for farming, transport and the local economy and the eldest sons Sydney and Percy were learning the trade as apprentices at Smithys in Norton near Presteigne and Quatt near Bridgnorth. When war broke out in 1914, Sydney had already left Britain for Canada but he, together with Percy, signed up, and they were later followed by their younger brother Jack. Horses would continue to be at the heart of their lives – which would take three very different paths. Sydney survived the war and went on to work as a blacksmith in South Wales, Percy, a corporal shoeing smith with the Worcestershire Hussars, was killed in action in Egypt on Easter Sunday in 1916. Jack was severely injured and had his leg amputated in November 1918. He lived in the village, in a caravan behind the pub, until his death in 1951 and is remembered for “sitting on the railings, shouting at people and waving his leg and turning it around and around to scare us”. Location: The Blacksmiths, Watling Street, Leintwardine, Herefordshire SY7 0LL Image shows members of the Malpas family, courtesy of Leintwardine Historical Society Narrated by Nicola Goodwin Available since: Wed 28 May 2014


Shropshire Journey July 2014

In a county of winding lands and high banks, the pleasurable jolt to our historical senses that was offered by the sudden view of Aldenham Park in South Shropshire at 1.55pm on July 29th (we were to be there no earlier than 2:00pm), almost a delivered a collective cardiovascular. Round a bend and then a ruler straight quarter mile of tarmac drive way rose gently upwards to a distant grey rectangle of a big house. Not a lean to in sight, not a venerable avenue of limes, just the line and the rectangle; both grey, both a clear statement of eighteenth century control. Once the tyres had crunched to a punctual stop, LHS members gathered beneath a half open front door, our cars spread like a fan into a nudged orderliness by the designed surroundings. Dead on time, Harriet Fenwick, owner and guide appeared to welcome us. She outlined a story of a site that responded to fluctuations of fortune and fashion, marriage and money. From the C15th to C19, the house has been remodelled on two significant occasions (late 17th and early 19th) and owned by the Acton family, an old Catholic Shropshire family with European diplomatic and cultural connections. Our walk began with a circular tour around the house. Four facades; each one different and all coolly grey, are offset by a Cornish slate tiled roof which is a charming, friendly, greeny grey. This is a country squire’s home and it remains a family home for Mr and Mrs Fenwick and their three little boys. Mrs Fenwick’s grandparents, Mr and Mrs Thompson, bought the house in 1959. Run down would be a kind description. The Twentieth Century legacy of wars and displacements were mirrored in the dilapidation of Aldenham Park. But now, as we filed inside and stood in the book lined saloon where once the mighty JCB had excavated, it looked as if those books had always been there. Thank goodness LHS members are of the factual fidelity persuasion because if one was of the fantastical kind (as opposed to the deep historians that we were!) one would be imagining generations of folk taking the books down and reading in shuttered window ledges. Interruptions to past family continuity are now delightfully counterbalanced by three generations of Mrs Fenwick’s family returning the house to be a happy family home. The parterre might be a swimming pool (done in the hot summers of the 1970s) and the C18 pavilion a changing room, but that is at should be in a home where history continues to happen. A charming fact: the little boys bicycle from one side of the ground floor to the other across the saloon. To the limewood panelled dining room, and a warm promise of candle lit dinners and a hospitable fire. On this blessedly hot July day, the room offers a cool gentleness which soothes and relaxes. Above the fireplace, there is a mid 1980s group family portrait. There is the adolescent Mrs Fenwick on the left. She is wearing jeans and trainers while on the corresponding right of the group, is her sister, standing barefoot and dressed in a simple frock. One figure resonates with Gainsborough or even classical sylphs, while Harriet, who on portrait day, twenty odd years ago, rebelled against her pretty dress and her role as a symmetrical ornament, sits resolutely cross-armed. Her teenage defiance and physical position shape a narrative that is new and honest about country house portraits, about life as an emerging young woman at the end of the Twentieth Century in a country house. Upstairs, we are in simple, large and light bedrooms that look out for miles of South Shropshire rolling woods and fields. We are in 1970s John Fowler inspired arrangements of bed, rug, chair, and lamps but as such – is not that a comfortable and welcome setting to greet the tired eyes of any visitor to this distant county from London. Mrs Fenwick says these spare rooms are still to be updated, so we were witnesses to a phase of how one set up guest quarters before standards of all things to do with showers, mattresses, lighting, linen count, and toiletries were raised by the consumer engine to higher bars of acceptable comfort and quasi hotel standards. Four years ago, all these decisions were to be made by Mrs Fenwick’s brother. Instead, his sister Mrs Fenwick, and her family took on Aldenham Parkl and have made it a family house, with Mrs Fenwick’s grandfather still in residence across the back courtyard. Thank you to you both for giving us an historic house now ready to step out smartly into the Twenty First century with a lovely smile.   Harriet, nee Swire, you and Mr Fenwick are third generation continuity and your children fourth, of a family that dedicates care, thought, conservation practice and ,(behind the scenes do not let us forget money), to a site of continuous occupation for six hundred years at least. You are making a loving family home where there is employment for local people in varied ways, inside and out. We had our tea in the saloon and studied the aerial photographs that charted a century of decline and resurrection. We ate our cakes and then left again by the open front door to our waiting carriages and our own dear Leintwardine homes. No need to look back with longing and desire – that kind of life is there and our kind of life is here. Francesca Bingham 2014 (written with some influence from Betjeman film scripts of the 1950s and 60s)


Latest news:  The Programme for the World War I event in Leintwardine 16th – 20th October is available now on the Calendar page


This might interest you:

History Weekend 16-17 August at AARDVARK BOOKS

Two lectures on Herefordshire and the Picturesque:

Professor Charles Watkins: “Uvedale Price of Foxley” and Peter Burden: “Richard Payne Knight at Downton” entrance free but please reserve!

Exhibitions on Deerfold and  the Siege of Brampton Bryan as well as a collection of early 20th Century Photographs.

Aardvark Books&Café, Brampton Bryan, Bucknell, SY7 0DH   E: aardvark@btconnect.com     W:  www.aardvark-books.com   T: 01547530744  


Ditherington Mill On Saturday 12th July 2014 a group of 25 LHS members were shown around the former flax mill and malting premises at Ditherington, to the north of Shrewsbury city centre. English Heritage now have the daunting task of masterminding regeneration of this unique set of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, which are of local, national and international significance.


The Main Mill, above, built in 1797, is the oldest iron-framed building in the world, the ‘ancestor’ of all modern skyscrapers.                                                        The Cross Mill, rebuilt in 1812. The whole site is currently a hard-hat zone!


The LHS Tour to Perrycroft House and Garden in early June was a unique and lovely experience. We are looking into the possibility of organising another trip later this year. 


IMG_20140607_140805371_HDR aIMG_20140607_142322223_HDRPerrycroft


A Summary of “Hope Mingled with Fear – The Arrival of the Postman 1914-1918” 

A LHS talk by Derek Beattie on 21st May 2014

Derek Beattie based his talk on the letters home from the frontline, sent by local boys to their parents, friends, church leaders and school masters. The young men who joined up in 1914, hoping for adventure, were the first literate army to go into battle, and they wrote vivid accounts of their experiences abroad. The Post Office handled 12 million letters a week, stamps for mail and parcels were free for service men, because letters were believed to improve morale. The weekly newspapers that were often sent by the family kept the troops in touch with life at home. The Leintwardine Leader,which was a monthly journal of events in the village and which carried a Roll of Honour recording those who had enlisted, been wounded, and those who had died, was greatly valued by the local soldiers overseas.In some cases, the swift communication both ways worked well.Letters arrived full of wonder at the beauty of amazing sights in Egypt, Burma, Singapore, and Greece. Pineapples, camels and pyramids all featured in the news that flooded back over the first few months, along with information about friends and relatives who were fighting alongside them in the Pals Platoons. Those families who could not read were able to get their post through the vicar or headmaster and to share tales from the trenches withtheir neighbours. However, the friends and brothers began to suffer appalling casualties, which were recorded in the mail back to England. The post was censured for military information, and for some other purposes from 1916 onwards, but most of the stories of no man’s land, stinking mud, desperate attempts to save comrades and to carry them to safety and makeshift burials, filtered through and sometimes found their way into the letters pages of the papers. Many soldiers were lost in action, and the best hope of news of their fate was from fellow soldiers who had seen them fall, or had found them, or had passed on information to the Red Cross. The ladies who joined the Red Cross in World War 1, after it was formed in Geneva in order to help soldiers on all sides to track the whereabouts of their loved ones, went through the hospital wards in all the battle zones, asking for anything that could help a family identify their missing father, brother or son. Often the news of a death arrived through a fellow soldier before the official notification of death from their commanding officer. Friends and comrades told the truth aboutwhat they had seen, but the officer was always kind to parents and wrote of instant and painless death, even if he had no actual knowledge of the soldier in question. Chaplains were as helpful as possible, giving details as gently as they could, while hospital sisters presented the medical details with cold efficiency. All accounts were extremely important to those who were left behind. With no body to bury it was important to picture what were the last moments and place of burial of their missing soldier.Even with the uncertainty caused by waiting for news, personal information in the First World War was transferred from trench to home faster, and more accurately, than it had ever been. There were mistakes. Parents were told their child was dead, only to receive a postcard from a foreign hospital or a prisoner of war camp, or told that the wrong sort of injury had been incurred, but letters and parcels passed to England from the Western Front in an average time of two days, all carried by a postal service which handled an extraordinary twelve deliveries a day in London, and still maintained six a day throughout the war. Most of the rest of the country had at least four collections, so the post boy with his letter or telegram was a very familiar sight, arousing fear and hope in what he might be bringing, by everyone in the land.

NW 2/6/2014


The Story of the Malpas Brothers – Leintwardine during WWI

BBC Hereford and Worcester will broadcast “The Malpas Family : The Story of the Blacksmiths of Leintwardine” preceded by a talk with Leintwardine History Society Chair, Nerissa Wilson, about what the village was like in 1914. This story will launch the new BBC series “World War at Home” and the live broadcast is on Saturday 31st May at 8.00-9.00 Listen  live on 94.7 FM (Herefordshire) or 104 or 104.6 FM (Worcestershire) or BBC Hereford and Worcester (Digital Radio) or online – www.bbc.co.uk/hereford – click on the ‘Listen Live’ button Listen again via the BBC website – www.bbc.co.uk/hereford – click on the ‘Listen Again’ button – the programmes remain online for 7 days after broadcast and are available one hour after the end of the programme There’s more on the BBC’s WW1 coverage at www.bbc.co.uk/ww1 – click on the ‘WW1 At Home’ link for the Leintwardine story (available from May 31st)



An appeal from  Ian Kerry, Director of Arts Alive and Flicks in the Sticks:

Flicks is about to start a WW1 Archive film project and would be very interested in hearing from LHS members; here is a link with  info on it as well as an application form.



Two events that might be of interest to you: 

Last Post. Remembering the First World War. On until  March 27th 2015    Coalbrookdfale Gallery,01952 433 424. Free and open Mon-Fri.. www.visitironbridge.co.uk Two Gallons of your Best Gin…From Cider to Spirits, the Drink’s Trade in the Welsh Border in the 19th Century. Exhibition based on the Pulling Archive at the Cider Museum in Hereford. www.archiveofciderpomology.co.uk?PullingExhibition.htm


Pictures from the LHS tour round Montgomery on 30th April

Montgomery tour-5 Montgomery tour-8 Montgomery Tour-24


The amended constitution was unanimously accepted at the LHS AGM on 16th April which cleared another hurdle on the way to become a registered charity. Thank you to all who contributed!

Leintwardine lamb

Leintwardine lamb

Downton Gorge Walks – a rare treat!

 Natural England will be running three guided walks at Downton Gorge National Nature Reserve for the general public this year on the following dates:

  • Sunday 13th April,2pm to 5pm led by Barney Rolfe-Smith.
  • Sunday 27th April, 2pm to 5pm led by Barney Rolfe-Smith.
  • Sunday 4th May,9am to 2pm led by Simon Cooter, SeniorReserve Manager for the NNR.

All walks arefree of charge but booking is essential.  To book either contact stiperstones.events@naturalengland.org.uk or call 01743 792294. As numbers are limited early booking is recommended. Please note: Hazards •       Downton Gorge includes some steep slopes, difficult terrain and narrow, slippery paths and some people find it taxing. •       In places there is the possibility of rock falls. •       Vehicular access to the site is very limited and there is no mobile phone reception. In consequence, if anyone is taken ill it will take a long time to summon assistance. Remedies •       Unfortunately, in view of the above, we must insist that in the interests of safety you exclude from your party anyone who has walking difficulties and anyone known to be of uncertain health. •       A walking stick is a worthwhile aid for all. Stout footwear with good grip is essential. No dogs are allowed


A Leintwardine Bull

A Leintwardine Bull

Summary of the LHS talk on 19th March: “Finding Gold and Silver Treasure – Looking back at Changing Societies” by John Cherry


The packed March meeting welcomed John Cherry, a member of the DCMS appointed Treasure Valuation Committee, and – amongst other notable positions – former Keeper of Medieval and Later Antiquities at the British Museum. His subject: “Finding Gold and Silver Treasure: Looking Back at Changing Societies” ranged far and wide, alighting briefly upon Bitterley and drawing parallels between Staffordshire Hoard items and the Dinham Pommel, now on display in Ludlow Museum. Describing potential treasure trove – objects or coin hidden with the intention of later recovery – is relatively straightforward, but the motives behind such deliberate concealment become increasingly obscure the earlier the origins of the finds. John Cherry chose examples dating from the twentieth century back to the Iron Age. From the fortuitous discovery in 2010 in the basement of a previously multi-tenanted apartment building at 50 Konigsstrasse, Berlin, of a stash of sculptures once characterised by the Nazis as “decadent art”, we were transported to the seventeenth century and Samuel Pepys. Fearing disgrace following the loss of the “Royal Charles” to the Dutch in 1667, Pepys remained in London, but told his wife and father to make haste to his property in Brampton, Huntingdonshire, and bury 1,300 gold coins in the garden for safekeeping. Unfortunately, they didn’t make a map of where they had buried the treasure! Pepys’ diary entries for 10th/11th October 1667 graphically describe the subsequent frantic search. The Bitterley Hoard was contained in a purse placed inside a pottery vessel and consisted of 138 coins, the most recent dated 1643. It was found by a metal detectorist who called in Peter Reavill, the local Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer, thus enabling a proper excavation to be undertaken. The face value of the hoard was £9.11s.6d in old money, the equivalent of £1,380 according to the current retail price index, or £21,000 aligned to the average earnings index. Found in a field, there is no way of telling whether the purse represented the savings of the local farmer, or had been buried by a person or persons unknown. These examples perhaps indicate fear of loss as a motivating factor. The Staffordshire Hoard – 3,500 fragments mostly from military items – may simply represent battlefield booty, but why was it concealed? Earlier finds such as the Frome Roman Hoard (a piggy bank pot of layered coins), the Shrewsbury Hoard (9,315 bronze Roman coins), and the Iron Age torcs from Snettisham in Norfolk may have had some ritual significance. The common factor linking all the hoards is that they manifest the enduring value of gold and silver and of exquisite craftsmanship – qualities still appreciated today. Thanks to John Cherry for an informative, well-illustrated presentation which provided many fascinating examples of treasure trove, answered many practical questions, and opened up the possibility of endless armchair speculation as to the significance of these random finds. PH 22/3/2014

St Mary Magdalene, Leintwardine

St Mary Magdalene, Leintwardine

19th February 2014

Tim Bridges: Reformation and After: Local Church Architecture adapts to New Ideas 

  All churches look the same don’t they? Or do they? About as similar as two snowflakes or fingerprints perhaps. Tonight’s talk, illustrated with beautiful pictures of interesting churches in the Hereford Diocese (which extends well beyond the reach of the county boundary), showed how remarkably individual each one is. In these times when many buildings are mere replicas of one another, I looked with awe at these realisations of each parish’s dreams since mediaeval times. Tim Bridges talk was on local church architecture and his role in helping them to adapt to new ideas and so to have a future. Each church consists of chancel and nave and many have now redundant features, such as the piscina. There are many with idiosyncrasies, for example, Lydbury North where there is a private side chapel for the Roman Catholic Plowden family and another for the Protestant Walcots, with its own schoolroom above. After the Reformation the emphasis was on listening to the Word, hence pulpits and lecterns were introduced, along with box pews beneath. Some have Singing Galleries, which became redundant after organs were installed. Another has cupboards for the nobility’s library (as at More) or interesting graves (one of an African at Bishops Castle). More history is reflected in the Royal Arms, which remain in some churches, denoting the monarch as head of the Church. The Victorians did their own modernisation but also tried to recycle interesting mediaeval features and with the influence of the Oxford Movement, reintroduced colour in stained glass and tiles, and altered configurations to allow for processionals. In the 21st century all these churches are a serious and costly responsibility. There is the opportunity to be listed by English Heritage (Leintwardine church has 2* rating, i.e. in the top 5%) when they are assessed and to be put on an ‘at risk’ register. Our own Leinthall Starkes consequently has an EH grant for repairs. The request to close a church comes from the parish, is not imposed, and usually is a rallying call to the community at large. Some do close to worship and become merely monuments. Others will consider how they can adapt, introduce modern conveniences, loos and kitchens, improve access and much-needed heating and meet community needs, such as at Adforton and Yarpole. No one scheme suits all churches because of the sheer individuality of them and their communities.   VS 19 February 2014


Some Herefordshire Doctors

 A talk by Henry Connor 15 January 2014

  Dr. Connor has undertaken a substantial amount of research in Herefordshire, and was able to provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of medicine in this area, and the medical men and women who provided medical help.  A quick overview of the individuals who had been involved with Leintwardine in one way other over the centuries commenced with Roger the Doctor, probably William the Conqueror’s personal physician, who was granted lands in this area (and many others) and concluded (1000 years later) with Martin Garlick, in 2002.  There were a number of gaps, as might be expected, where the records are few, and the greater amount of information is available from the 19th century when the medical profession became more organised with the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons and the Pharmaceutical Society setting professional standards.  More universities also began offering degrees in medicine,  Prior to this the barber surgeon, surgeon and apothecary had been disputed areas for medical expertise, and the involvement of the Church and the Crown had been part of licensing medical men.  It is noticeable that doctors in Leintwardine and around were surgeons or barber surgeons until about 1840 from which date they all had one or more medical degrees.  Historically the responsibility for the care of illnesses had belonged to the Lady of the House, who also provided medicines.  Gervase Markham in his tome The English Housewife (1637) provided a range of medicinal cures for minor illnesses, and Brilliana Harley was known to have used this advice, providing angelica and liquorice to ward off the plague or to cleanse the blood, amongst others.  Advice from professional medical men was taken, where it could be afforded, and some conducted practices over considerable areas.  One Diodati from North of Manchester visited the Harleys in Brampton Bryan to dispense advice and medicine.  The role of these well-known and influential medical men could be much more widespread.  Nathaniel Wright was appointed Guardian of the Harley children and also Governor of the Castle, following this with accompanying Cromwell on his campaign into Scotland.  The role of the Church remained strong, with Episcopal licensing being important from the reign of Henry VIII, and interestingly Anne Harries (an unfamiliar female name) is one of those with the licence in Leintwardine in the mid 18th century.  The increasing number of qualified doctors in the 19th century seems to have resulted in short stays in Leintwardine, possibly young doctors looking for more lucrative areas once having a starting position here.  The last part of the century saw more stability, with John Cartwright staying here for 35 years, from 1870, and Dr’s Whelan (1906-21), and  (getting into living memory) Bell (1934-68) Beach (1938-69) Joan Davidson (1964-88) and Garlick (1980-2002)  serving the community over many years, through many changes in medical practice and provision, from patient visits on horseback on on-line prescriptions. Altogether a very well presented overview of an essential part of Leintwardine life, with some leavening of suicide, murder and doctor eccentricities to interest us further.   DM 22.1.14


Tours in 2014

This is a first outline – details will follow, both here and in the March edition of the LHS Journal
30th April Perrycrofts
 Perrycrofts is an Arts and Craft style house and garden designed in 1893 by C.F.A. Voysey, an important English architect and furniture and textile designer. It was his first commission.   The Garden is open under the National Gardens Scheme but the house is not regularly open.  The visit is at a weekend to facilitate access to the house.
The house is near Malvern and tea will be available in a nearby teashop.


7th June Montgomery
Starting at the Montgomery Museum, a brief introductory talk will be followed by a guided walk to Broad Street and along the Eastern Wall to the bottom of the town. Details on lunch and/or tea will follow.
The walk normally takes about two hours at a leisurely pace. 


The mail box in Kinton

The mail box in Kinton

The old bench in Kinton

The old bench in Kinton


I had the chance to see the clockwork of the Mary Magdalene Church in Leintwardine being reset, beautiful machinery and quite hard work!

Change of Time

Change of Time



Last Talk of 2013

On Wednesday, 20th November Paul and Ann Haley will present a selection of their impressive collection of Victorian and Edwardian photographs, with special focus on North Herefordshire.

After the talk there will be a short EGM dealing with the changes to the LHS Constitution that are necessary in order to apply for charity status. 


A visit to Chapel Farm, near Wigmore

Mike and Margaret Pollitt will graciously show you round their 15th century home. It is a private house and only a few visitors can be accomodated at any time. Both the house and the surroundings make you feel transported back in time; a fascinating and truly unique experience.

Chapel Farm

Chapel Farm

Chapel Farm, October 2013

Chapel Farm, October 2013


Leintwardine History Society,

Wednesday October 16th 2013

John Nash, Architect before Fame and Fortune

Richard Suggett

  When he was good, he was very, very good; when he was bad he was terrible! Repton described him as having the powers of fascination – pert, impudent and rude, and if you fell under his powers, there could be a surprise at the end – possibly expensive!  Thus spoke Richard Suggett about John Nash, architect, as he concluded his fascinating talk about the earlier years of Nash before he reached the dizzy heights of his fame under the patronage of the somewhat infamous Prince Regent, later George IV.  Those years were spent in Wales and the Welsh Marches which provided Nash with a formative period of development and have left us with a notable legacy.  Perhaps it is inevitable that the nature of a building design should reflect the character of the designer and thus with Nash we have buildings that tell us nothing but then reveal a great deal.   Maybe Nash subsumed himself in his work which obscures the man but shows all in the end.  Nash was part of a coterie of architects who worked in the “rackety world of the late 18th and early 19th centuries”.  This was a world of wild and irregular behaviour, of senseless spending and hedonism that revolted Queen Victoria who strived in her turn as monarch to eliminate all that was Hanoverian and to establish a moral, respectable, upstanding family code wholly endorsed by her Germanic husband. Little did she realise how like her forbears was she, but that is another story.  Perhaps Nash was a Hanoverian!  But in Wales, in those earlier days, he practised more restraint.  Suggett assures us that Nash was a genius, willing to experiment, a brilliant designer, a man who took chances and was sometimes defeated but was never daunted even when his bridges collapsed or his buildings failed.  He was probably born in 1752/53 and apprenticed to Sir Robert Taylor, architect of The Bank of England which gave him a very good start.  He made money by speculating though little is known of this but bankruptcy followed (so he must have taken a few chances) during which time he disappeared to re-emerge later in Wales where he popped up in Carmarthen.  Propping up St Peter’s Church roof determined him to stay put and his initial niche became public buildings among which Hereford, Carmarthen and Cardigan prisons were three, currently now all gone.  They had a huge impact at the time and demonstrated his ability to handle large scale with flair and innovation employing some of his architectural trademarks such as rusticated ground floors and stuccoed walls with chains, swags and garlands about the entrances which must have reassured and cheered those entering and particularly the ones who were not destined to come out.  These buildings set a trend for radial design with central towers from which all the inmates could be observed.  He played with bridge designs seeking ways to construct the impossible-to-achieve single span and dabbled in a few churches but may have turned from these due to lack of attractive funding.  The private patron was more to his liking where flights of fancy (and maybe irregular costings) could be sought although Uvedale Price, colleague of Richard Payne Knight of Downton Castle and leaders of the Picturesque Movement,  advised people to use Nash’s designs but get in another to execute the plans as they would cost far less! As a supposed Welshman, his period in Wales provided him with a good spring board on which to consolidate his skills but he was an enigmatic, sophisticated and inscrutable man, one you either liked or loathed, a dual personality veering from bankruptcy to great respectability, hungry for fame and fortune.  The later patronage of George IV probably gave him the opportunity to develop his wildest dreams, riding on the wave with inexhaustible funds and reaching the heights of spectacular theatricality.  This, of course, came to a head in the dizzy absurdity of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton which remains today as a testimony of all that was brilliant and bad about George IV. They must have been great friends! Among the many examples given us, two stand out.  The strange, subdued restraint of Llanerch Aeron best viewed towards the south east corner revealing both the discreet east entrance elevation and the five bay south side but looking like a flat box to be investigated and compared with the picturesque and totally frivolous Hafod; sadly nothing but foundations now (built by Thomas Johnes, cousin to RPK), probably between them demonstrate the total breadth and width of Nash’s skills as a designer.  We are lucky that they are or were, on our doorstep.  Richard Suggett managed to deliver all this information with great humour and lightness of touch.  He was almost apologetic when explaining the fall of Nash from his extravagance over the building of Buckingham Palace (that George again!); the Duke of Wellington’s investigations into the finance revealed no paper trails to substantiate the vast costs!  This was an illuminating talk that held us enthralled and put flesh on the bones of one of our most distinguished architects; a man who not only left his mark in Regent Street but laid his genius on Wales.  The death of George IV in 1830 effectively ended Nash’s career and he died in 1835 in professional disgrace nevertheless leaving us a staggering opus of work. BS 17/10/2013  





Dr. Pinches gave an extremely informative, well illustrated talk, and presented it with great clarity and enthusiasm.

She began with a history of the architecture of almshouses. Very early examples were hospitals which also took in pilgrims and travellers, and these developed in the 12th century, in some instances, into homes for the poor and for lepers. These buildings, and those who ran them, were usually affiliated to the church, and were housed in big halls with a chapel at one end and cubicles all along the walls of the rest of the building. As time passed, cubicles were replaced by a series of small rooms heated by a row of  fires with chimneys. These became available to certain groups of people who qualified under the rules of the benefactor who paid for the upkeep of each almshouse.

After the Reformation, many of these establishments were lost, and lay people were understandably nervous about setting up anything  that might fall foul of the religious fashion at the time. However, as the Church of England became more firmly established in the 17th century, there was a big rise in charities, and in each subsequent  century  more almshouses were built  by a wide variety of individuals. They were founded with money from wills but also by living  benefactors , who often lived close by those they wished to help, and had constitutions which stipulated very clearly who could live there, what they should wear, and how they should behave. Uniforms, often very elaborate, with hats and cloaks in distinctive colours, were also frequently adorned with a badge to show who had donated the money for the keep of the men and women who wore them. The recipients of charity varied between old retainers of the family, lepers, men who had fallen on hard times, women who had seen better days and ‘decayed gentry’. Sometimes a religious affiliation was required, but the overriding  stipulation was that applicants should be respectable people. Their past would be free of riotous and drunken behaviour, and they would have to live a very sober life under the eye of the overseer of the house where they ended up. 

These houses could be big or small.  In 1634, Henry Hewes bequeathed as an almshouse the two lower rooms, with use of chimney, of one of his houses in Leinthall Starks. There was a small garden attached, and half of its fruit was included for the use of the pensioners, who could qualify if they were 55 or above.  The half timbered house is still standing in the village. The  Duke of Northumberland founded and financed the almshouses in Clun, whilst he also built the enormous establishment of Charterhouse in London along the same lines, with houses lined up around a courtyard.  The daughters and wives of the clergy, who often found themselves destitute and homeless when their  father or husband died, were remembered and rescued by benefactors, often widows themselves. There was one such place in Hereford.

Dr. Pinches  pointed out that there is still a tradition of care for the helpless, and that we build sheltered accommodation now to try to alleviate their predicament. Her talk gave a picture of sometimes spasmodic generosity,   often laced with an element of self interest, but nevertheless, a real desire by one generation after another to give help to those who were seen to be in great distress through no fault of their own. Heaven help you, however, if your morals did not match up to the exacting standards of the time.




Latest News:

Colonel John Colvin, 1794-1871,  A Good and Faithful Servant To India, Ludlow and Leintwardine.


 Long term History Society member and  local author Barney Rolfe- Smith is giving a 45 minute illustrated talk on Colonel John Colvin to the Friends of Ludlow Museum at the Bishop Mascall Centre, Ludlow, on Monday 16 Sep, 7pm for 7.30pm.  Copies of his book on his life will be available.


Aged fifteen John Colvin was sent to India in 1809 to join the Bengal Engineers.  By the time he left Calcutta he had completed 27 years of service, fought two battles, built many hundreds of miles of canals and introduced American cotton to Bengal.  He was later to be given the title Father of Indian Irrigation.

He returned to England, married a Ludlow girl, and retired from the Army.  However this is not the story of the average retiree.  The next thirty years of Colvin’s life provides us with an insight into the huge variety of activities with which a Victorian gentleman could become involved in Ludlow, Leintwardine and the Welsh Marches.  That Colvin chose to serve in so many areas is not only a testament to his character but provides an example for many of us today.

Colvin’s interests included the Ludlow Workhouse, the Wigmore Magistrates’ Bench, Archery, the Church, growing prize vegetables, building Leintwardine School, the Ludlow Natural History Society, fossils, fishing and bringing up a family.  He was an exceptional man and deserves to be remembered.


The recent LHS visit to Hereford Water works Museum was a real success; LHS member Peter Wolley and fellow visitor Claire Boyd sent us their impressions, see below. Mike Evans, also a longstanding LHS member, took pictures which you can see on the recent pictures page, I’ll add some of my own shortly, together with pictures from the visit to Old Impton in May.

The Leintwardine pump

The Leintwardine pump

Waterworks CB 2013 Hereford Peter 001 ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** June 2013 The LHS proudly presents:

Leintwardine Postcards : A set of eight postcards featuring people in Leintwardine from the 1920s to the 1950s

Each card has a descriptive text on the reverse and they are available from the LHS office on Tuesdays and on the first Saturday of the month at £3.50 per set or by mail (add 50p p&p for up to two packs) For details please go to “Publications&Membership” We would be very pleased to hear from you if you have comments on this first series of cards or ideas for a follow up. Just send a mail to lhs.secretary2@gmail.com ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Summary of the May 2013 talk  


Edited by Martin Davis – LHS Speaker, Wed 15 May 2013

  Upon retirement from the legal profession, Martin Davis began another project into his family history, sparked by the discovery of two volumes of his great-great-grandfather’s diaries.  More daybooks than journal, they nevertheless led Martin Davis on a fascinating journey (physical and historical) into Shropshire, Gloucestershire, and northern Herefordshire.  These were the counties of his ancestor’s life and the times were early Victorian.   Peter Davis, born in 1812, was a substantial tenant farmer in these parts, with a mixed arable acreage of c.500 acres. Martin Davis, the great-great-grandson of Peter Davis, began his talk with an extract from Sept 2, 1837 which described the funeral of Peter Davis’ father.  The details of the service, who attended, and who participated were noted and Peter’s final assessment of his father was of a fair, upright, and instructive parent who had raised his family with attention  to their schooling and prospects.  Pleasant to hear, certainly, but Davis quickly brought us to the questions which prompted him to transcribe and edit his ancestor’s notations of  weather, crops, and daily records of a mixed agriculture. Why are these of interest to the general public?  Martin Davis developed three threads to support the value of these records: 1)    It was a crucial stage in agriculture – just prior to mechanization and descriptive of changing tools, methods, and practice 2)   It was a time of considerable distinction between industrial and rural worlds 3)   The diaries exhibit an uncanny parallel to the rural world of Barsetshire that Antony Trollope brought to life in fiction. A significant chunk of the first diary, written in June 1835, when Peter Davis was 23, concerns his two week tour of the north that took in 800 miles and a hundred of those Davis walked.  In his itinerary from Shropshire to Banbury, he travelled by coach, train, boat, pony, and of course, shanks pony, thus exhibiting in his modes of transport the parallel options in use in this early Victorian period.  The train was only recently an option, but one can see how it is being integrated into movement and the promise of mobility becoming a reality.  Peter Davis travelled as far north as Edinburgh and down via historic cities of Berwick, Newcastle, Durham, Nottingham and down to Banbury.  His commentary is valuable in its very mundanity; this is how it worked to get from A to B if you were able, inquiring, and in moderate funds.  His conclusion? He liked the country much better than the city. The farming entries that follow his national Grand Tour show how a mixed farm was never a static entity.  At various times, hops, or cattle, or cider pressing come into prominence and the successful farmer is able to consider, plan, and execute for changing tastes and technologies.  No difference in that from 1835 to 2013, but in the period that Peter Davis operated in, there was a huge change in production and capacity due to mechanization, much as farmers have had to integrate computerization and intelligent machinery into their work process today. To conclude, Martin Davis opened up the idea of how prosperity came through mechanization and natural resource extraction.  Today, those resources have been used extensively and prosperity, or should we say, prospering does not come so readily from depleted natural resources in this country.  As Martin Davis said, he has used these diaries as a keyhole into another time with the concomitant enquiry into our time and our ways of making a livelihood in town and country.  In this project, Davis exemplifies why local history is not only of anecdotal interest, but a platform of knowledge from which to ask questions of national and contemporary importance.   F B  22/5/13 *********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Full Steam ahead ….

november 055

On 19th June the LHS visits the Waterworks Museum in Hereford:

The Waterworks  Museum has probably got the widest range of water-pumping engines in the UK. These range from the 1805 horse drawn fire-engine to electric borehole pumps which are in current use. The highlight is the oldest working triple-expansion steam-engine in the UK, capable of pumping one million gallons per day.  There is also an World War 2 exhibition linked to the pumping engine for the Royal Ordinance munitions factory which employed 5,000 local women. A few places are still available – should you want further info please mail lhs.secretary2@gmail.com ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Summary of the April 2013 talk


Leintwardine History Society Talk by Prof. Dai Morgan Evans, Wednesday April 17th 2013

  Dai came up from London to deliver a fascinating lecture on “How to Build a House”.  Not any old house but a Roman villa urbana, a town house neither grand nor poor. The site chosen was the old Roman city of Wroxeter but in Dai’s own inimitable words, the house could have been built anywhere because there is nothing special about Wroxeter; it is a dull site. So what a lovely idea! But life is never that easy especially when the project was the basis of a TV programme and they were paying for it and definitely calling the tune.   They wanted a replica but how to build a replica of something you can’t see?  You can’t and nor can you reconstruct when the highest remains at Wroxeter are about knee high so it would only give a false impression.  One can use simulation techniques, English Heritage likes that. The television producer wanted it to be:

  1. A Roman villa to be named “Villa Urbana”
  2. Impressive
  3. To have mosaics
  4. Wall paintings
  5. Working bath house
  6. To be made by modern builders
  7. No modern tools, no wheel barrows, no chain saws
  8. Authentic
  9. The builders to be screen tested
  10. To have a legacy for EH
  11. All in 6 months…………………………..

And Rome was not built in a day; in fact, it was nearly not built at all.   Many of Dai’s practical and academic suggestions were simply ignored as clearly, they were not telegenic.  One of his most critical comments concerned lime mortar.  After roughly September, line mortar simply doesn’t set due to the change in weather so there was an urgency to start building ASAP to enjoy the better weather.  But such a simple expedient was TOO simple! At this stage, enter bureaucracy.  Health and Safety had to have its say over:

  1. Conditions for the builders
  2. The film crew
  3. Future public use

All of these exercises took time so the building window was slipping away.  English Heritage had to be consulted and that does not happen quickly.  It was also considered necessary to have an archaeologist on site all the time with a watching brief; in effect, somebody was paid to be doing nothing for the building period. It was discovered that the builders had no “vision” about antiquity so they were flown to a suitable site of antiquity for an inspiring visit.  Considering their overall corpulence, it was difficult to see how they passed their screen tests.  All of these shenanigans took up valuable building time. It was eventually decided that the villa would have a five year life and then be demolished.  This was all to do with the EH legacy.  Having insisted on a bath house, a hypocaust had to be installed and because any excavation was forbidden because the whole of Wroxeter is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the house was built on an earth platform above ground level.  The use  of a geotextile membrane would preserve the ground for re-integration after demolition.  The villa also had to be Wroxeter relevant.  Whatever that means. Finally, building work started.  Dwarf walls of stone were constructed to support the half timbering, columns for the corridor were plastered tree trunks which had been rounded on a primitive lathe, Roman pantiles were specially made and used on low pitched roofs placed on timber sheets and shingles were used for the steeper pitches.  Square windows were glazed by using stretched pig bladders (veins included)  or stretched linen.  Wattle and daub or earth bricks were used to infill the half timbering and plastered.  Earth bricks left unplastered eventually dissolve especially in the wet and windy conditions of Britain.  Internal decorations were painted either by using proper fresco techniques or paint; there was a lovely dotted decoration motif.  The colour blue was used to impress because it was expensive and revealed the status of the owner.  The bath house was next to the morning salutation room where after business, a plunge was enjoyed by all.  The builders were compelled to use  conventional scaffolding (HSE!) instead of wooden.  Curtains were used decoratively as room dividers and a statue of  the goddess, Fortuna, was placed in a niche to protect all users of the bath house.  Remember also that in Roman times intensive labour for building or domestic management was irrelevant because it was all done by slaves. Domestic Roman building was not of high quality; all wood joints were avoided but they did make good nails.  Interior heating was by open portable stoves burning organic material yielding high carbon monoxide levels.  The danger of this was partly mitigated by plentiful draughts.  You could postulate that all Romans in colder countries suffered from chronic headaches and died early.  Who knows? To finalise the design and appearance of the villa, it wasn’t necessarily helpful to view more complete remains in distant and southerly parts of the Empire because styles were localised.  Britain was considered basic (the armpit of the Roman Empire) so the grander designs of say, North Africa,  would not have been a useful guide. Eventually the villa was finalised with painted yellow plaster but time ran out on the lime mortar (as Dai expected).  The mosaics being done at the end were a disaster – nothing set.  Sadly, the copper hot water tank of the hypocaust was liberated by persons unknown so the system had to be repaired with lesser quality materials. It is still possible to see the TV series but remember Dai’s unofficial words – “TV is superficial”. Thank you to Dai for a fascinating talk.  The finished result is there to be seen so visit Wroxeter before it goes! RS   **********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Easter eggs

AGM 2013

The Annual General Meeting of the LHS took place on Wednesday 20 March. The Chair (Nerissa Wilson), the Vice Chair (Paddy Campbell), the Treasurer (Lissa Lester) and the Secretary (Elisabeth Egelund), were all re-elected. The Chair announced that the LHS will present a  Cup  at Leintwardine Primary School, to be given to a pupil who has taken a special interest in history. The cup will be named “The John Williams History Cup” in honour of John, founder member and first Chair of the LHS, who is now our archivist and editor of the LHS Journal.  The AGM was followed by a Picture Quiz where the audience was asked to identify local buildings from old photographs. It was great fun, even for those who could only get a few answers right.  ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Snowdrops Summary of the February 2013 talk

A Gilded Cage

The rumours of a local Bonaparte connection are no longer a mystery! Barney Rolfe-Smith gave colour and clarity to the life of Lucien, brother of the Emperor, and his gilded incarceration in the grand houses of Dinham in Ludlow and Thorngrove in Worcester. Between 1810 and 1814, prisoner-of-war Lucien Bonaparte, along with his extended family and servants, spent a very privileged time in England. Having been afforded a great deal of freedom to select homes that he felt appropriate to his standing, Lucien turned down a whole series of wonderful grand houses in Shropshire (or was declined by the owners as being an unwelcome tenant). Nominally captive, life in Britain was very comfortable before release allowed Lucien to return to Italy and live out his remaining days there. As Barney pointed out, there is much more in his book, and sales were brisk! JW 21/2/13 February 2013 Talk ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************* Summary of the January 2013 talk

Local Civil War History

David Ross spoke on Jan. 16th, giving new insights into the decade of turmoil which included the siege of Brampton Bryan Castle and the massacre at Hopton Heath Castle.  The parts played by key characters Robert and Brilliana Harley were helpfully set in the context of divisions within the Church of England and the methods used in the military conflict: one example was the account of Brilliana’s men using two short-range cannons to set fire to the Royalist siege-works. More widely in Herefordshire, as the fortunes of King and Parliament see-sawed, people in general were at the mercy of being forced to fight in, pay for and suffer grievously in a conflict for which they had no heart. At least, in the post-Restoration years, our country found better ways of ordering its affairs. The question-and-answer time demonstrated that Mr.Ross had been informative, stimulating and appreciated.

  CM 16/1/2013 ****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Even if you are not snowed under, you may want to plan your outings in 2013 now – have a look at our programme and remember to book the trips in June and July if you want to be sure of a place!




“Vaughan Williams and Ella Leather: Hunting Folk Carols In Herefordshire”

On Dec. 13th 2012 Roy Palmer, writer and broadcaster, editor of the new Stainer & Bell edition of 12 Herefordshire Carols, gave a talk illustrated with recordings and song.

This meeting was a late insertion into the year’s programme, but proved to be a fascinating and absorbing introduction to the history of folk music in this area.  Roy is the author of several books and collections of folk music and also sang for us several of the old songs and carols originally collected here, and played some recordings. The centre piece of his talk was the work of Ella May Leather, who from an early age had shown an active interest in the folk songs from the villages around Weobley.  Married to a wealthy solicitor at 19, she lived at Castle House and devoted a great deal of time from 1904 onwards to writing down the words of songs and carols which were not recorded anywhere, being handed down orally (and aurally),.  These were from villagers and gypsies, many of them uneducated, and the songs themselves were of unknown age.  There was also a small market in printed copies, which were published by local printers and sold in the villages.   Roy sang one of these “Rose in June”, with moderately tuneful help in the chorus from the audience. Mrs Leather realised she needed help, particularly in transcribing the music of these songs, and sought the assistance of the Folk Music Society, which had been founded by Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams.  The secretary, Lucy Broadwood, a noted song collector herself involved Vaughan Williams in the possibilities of transcribing and recording (primitive wax cylinders) the songs of this region. Vaughan Williams himself came on several visits 1908 -13, and in 1922 he and Mrs Leather edited a published collection of 12 Carols from their researches (recently revised and reissued, see above). As mentioned, local gypsies were a very good source of previously unrecorded songs, probably because they were outside the social and educational environment of Victorian society.  Their visits to the area were usually to participate in hop picking.  A particular resource proved to be Esther Smith who was recorded in this early period, but unfortunately the primitive cylinders crumbled away; by a fortunate chance several songs were recorded in the 50’s by May Bradley from Ludlow who was the cousin of Esther Smith, and the sound was undoubtedly in the original tradition.   We were fortunate to be able to hear this from Roy’s collection These songs, so painstakingly recorded by the work of Mrs Leather, Vaughan Williams and others had widespread use in the music tradition of native society – they were sung by wassail singers, mummers, and morris men, all of whom travelled around villages singing, acting and dancing for their supper, over centuries. Villages all had members who led the singing on any suitable occasion. Vaughan Williams himself was focussed on the tunes of these songs, and did a good deal of mixing words from different pieces with the tunes.  His arrangements were understandably a more sophisticated creation than the originals, but he does seem to have managed to remain true to the folk tradition.  Because of Victorian/Edwardian attitudes there was some tendency to amend the words to avoid upsetting current sensibilities.  The Angel Gabriel, as an example, a carol, was altered because it expressed the possibility of Mary’s scepticism about the message she was receiving about the Virgin Birth.  As Roy pointed out this was too much for Victorian/Edwardian society, while it had presented no problems to ordinary labouring folk in the 1830’s. The Carnal and the Crane was a further illustration of how easily these pieces could have been lost forever, without the collecting work of the Folk Song Society supporters.  The song is about the Crow and the Heron, but these terms have long fallen out of use – the use of Carnal to refer to the Crow in this song is the only recorded example in the OED of the word. Mrs Leather died in 1928, but Vaughan Williams continued to visit this area, from time to time, and recorded his nostalgia in a visit in 1956 to the Three Choirs Festival with Gerald Finzi, just two years before his death. This was altogether a highly enjoyable musical and historical insight, and our thanks to Roy Fuller and his wife Pat, for bringing it to us. DM 16.12.12 ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

The programme for the first six months of 2013 is out now – click on Calendar for details.  We hope you will enjoy the talks and visits and if you can’t participate you will still be able to follow events via summaries and pictures.  


The Hospitals that Disappeared

At November’s meeting of Leintwardine History Society, on Wednesday 21st, speaker Mari Fforde described the rise and fall of Kington Camp, a Second World War Heritage site near the small Herefordshire town. With the aid of a wealth of contemporary photographs, she told the parallel stories of the history of Kington Camp, and of a recent three-stage lottery-funded project to uncover and disseminate knowledge of this fascinating corner of local history. Kington Camp was established on requisitioned farmland early in the war, and first used for the regrouping of Dunkirk veterans. Later, the US Army built their 107th and 122nd US General Hospitals there, part of a strategy anticipating a flood of casualties following the Normandy landings. In the event, casualties were far fewer than expected, but between August 1944 and June 1945 the hospitals treated over 13,000 wounded service personnel from Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge. Following the glory days of American occupation, when these bright, brash young Yanks were so popular among local children because of their generosity with sweets and chocolate, the hospitals were packed up and evacuated virtually overnight, leaving the town strangely silent. After the war, the camp was used by the Polish Resettlement Corps, and later still some of it was converted to local housing. Some buildings have been preserved and are still in use. The Kington Camp Project was a bold and imaginative exercise in local history research. Early activities included oral history recordings among local residents, and Kington schoolchildren making telephone contact with US veterans; later achievements included a rich website and a catalogued archive of images and artefacts based in Kington Museum, and finally a book published by Logaston Press. For many more details of this intriguing story, visit www.kingtoncamp.co.uk . TH 23/11/2012


Thomas Andrew Knight & the 1811 Pomona Herefordiensis

On Wednesday 17 October 2012 Dr Murray Mylechreest gave the LHS a fascinating insight into the life and research of Thomas Andrew Knight [TAK].

TAK was born in 1759, the youngest son of the Reverend Knight whose family had independent means originating from the rapidly expanding iron industry in Coalbrookdale. TAK possibly attended Ludlow Grammar School and in 1778 was a student at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1790 as a young man he visited Paris but thereafter travelled little although he had a wide international correspondence throughout his life. In 1791 he married, moved to Elton Hall and became involved with the Hereford Horticultural Society. He had an exceptionally enquiring mind and, living in the midst of orchards, questioned how such a variety of fruit types had originated. At that time there was no answer. He also noted an apparent reduction in the productivity of fruit trees. He was aware of the sexuality principles of flowering plants and experimented with transferring pollen from plant to plant and was possibly the first to do so. His notebooks present a careful record of his work. He established a close correspondence with the botanist Joseph Banks who was then the President of the Royal Society. In 1797 TAK’s first book on apples, pears & cider was printed and was to become a standard text for the times. This was a predecessor to the now famous Pomona Herefordiensis of 1811 containing beautifully coloured illustrations – some by his daughter Frances. The illustrations are unusual in that some of the apples show signs of disease. He also directed his attention and experiments to other fruits e.g pears and strawberries. Correspondence with John Lowell [President of the Massachusetts Agricultural Society] led to TAK sending apple plant cuttings to the USA and these were used to establish 10000 apple trees, forming the basis of the apple industry in N.America. The family moved to Downton Castle in the early 1800s. His work on the origin and variety of cultivated plants continued. He now worked with peas and was very close to establishing the principles of dominant and recessive features some 50 years before Mendel’s classic experiments with pea varieties. TAK’s work on variation was fully recognised by Charles Darwin [p1;Ch.1 The Origin of Species, 1859]. TAK was also the first to demonstrate the effect of gravity on plant growth and his experiments were discussed with Sir Humphrey Davy who, on his visits to TAK, stayed in a pub in Leintwardine. In 1838 at a Royal Horticultural Society meeting TAK became ill and subsequently died. The LHS audience [about 75] was intrigued by the history and discoveries of this extraordinary curiosity driven man. There were many questions during which we learnt from the speaker that: –  a greenhouse built at Downton Castle by TAK for his experiments has, because of its importance, become a listed building; –  the speaker has almost completed his biography of TAK – we look forward to its publication. BW    GW     18.10.12



A summary of the September Talk:


A LECTURE ON SEPTEMBER 19th, by David Lovelace.

David Lovelace is an independent consultant in digital methods of recording history who has worked extensively in Herefordshire over a period of more than twenty years. His lecture concentrated on three forests, Deerfold, Mortimer and Mocktree. He held his audience spellbound for an hour while he took them, at breath-taking speed, through the centuries from 600 B.C. to the present day. He showed, with the use of a great many compelling slides, the extraordinary ways in which digital photography can help the modern historian. Manuscripts, that could formerly only be accessed in the secure surroundings where they were housed, can now be photographed swiftly and without damage to the original documents and kept available for long-term research. The digital imposition of maps from past centuries on to their modern counterparts can reveal changes in the landscape and forests and also the surprising constancy of the shape of the three forests. David Lovelace mapped the age of the wooded areas by searching for naturally seeded limes amongst the other trees, because evidence of the lime trees can be found  in soil collected from as far back as 600 B.C. and at all times from then onwards. Mocktree, Deerfold and Mortimer forests were shown to have maintained their shape and characteristics over many hundreds of years, helped by the acceptance of the usefulness of tenant farmers, who needed the rights of grazing and the collection of firewood in order to afford to pay their rents. The overlaid photographs reveal that this order of things changed rapidly in the early twentieth century with the introduction of conifer plantations, which were vastly expanded in the post-war period by the Forestry Commission. It is still, however, possible to see limes growing in amongst the conifers in places, giving a sure signal of past managed woodland and park. The information about the formation of our present landscape, their purpose and shape, gives another aspect to explore whilst walking in the woods as you absorb the clues around you in the trees.


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  1. I wish we had a history society half as interesting as this one

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