Bulletin 371

The Hay and Kington Tramways

A Guided Walk led by Geoff Mitchell

Saturday 11th May at 2:30pm.

Meet at Lyonshall Memorial Hall (SO333561)

As a follow-up to Geoff’s talk to the Society in March, he will lead a walk along part of the tramway route as it skirts Lyonshall. Geoff informs me that in 2 to 2½ hours we will see lengths of trackbed, an embankment, a wharf house, a line of stone blocks (on which the track was laid), and the vestiges of a tunnel. In passing we will also see remains of the standard-gauge Kington and Eardisley Railway, Offa’s Dyke, and Lyonshall Castle. The route is mainly flat but due to recent inclement weather may still be a little muddy in places. Stout shoes or boots are recommended, together with wet-weather gear if appropriate. Maps: Explorer 201 and Landranger 148.

This will be our first trip this year and the walk will be a fascinating complement to Geoff’s March talk. With luck the weather will be kind to us so all are encouraged to come and see the Tramway and it would appear a few other Lyonshall attractions.

Pembridge by Duncan James

Pembridge was isolated from Kington in the early 700s A.D. by the Rowe Ditch, but was acquired later by St Guthlacs in Hereford, prior to Domesday, and its oldest buildings still present are the Church with its timber framed bell tower of the 1200s, and a moated mound (not a castle but a manorial bury), next to the Churchyard.

An old road from Hereford curved into the present West Street, probably the site of an early market, where the buildings are still set well back from the roadway.

After being inherited by the Mortimers in the 1200s, a market charter was granted in 1246, and it much later became part of the Yorkist estate.

The timber framed buildings for which it is well known date from the early 1400s, and show the development of building styles, starting with the traditional Hall house, acquiring cross wings, service and solar at either end, later being built with, or acquiring decorative jetties, later to be underbuilt, and even later, the two storied house either from new, or adapted after 1500 from the hall house, by the insertion of a ceiling in the hall, with or without raising the roof line.

The present market hall (earliest dendro-date 1502) was always a single storey structure, with possibly storage space in an attic, but the roof has been redesigned. Facing it is the Court House, successor to the moated bury, and adjoining it, ChurchHouse – exactly that, of 1484, used for parish events, including the provision of Church Ales, with jetties facing both the market and the Churchyard. Opposite, flanked by Rose Cottage (a hall house). The Old Stores, of the late 1500s, possibly once Booth Hall for the market, but subsequently internally rearrange, and later acquiring a Victorian brick façade. The Olde Steppes shop, next to the Churchyard was originally the Rectory, with jetties in front and at one side, to be noticed as you passed by on your way to church.

On the third side of the market place is the New Inn (neither New in the 1400s, nor an Inn at first) with a central Hall flanked by jettied bays, presenting an enigma as to its original function.

In East Street is the Kings House, lavishly decorated with jetties fore and aft, all with fancy brackets (of the early 1500s), but in West Street are much earlier buildings such as West End Farm, with its subsequently acquired jetties, and others, showing reuse of timbers – quite early in many cases, as exposed joints reveal the smoke blackening characteristics of the hall and its open fire, while in others, the assembly marks of the carpenter laying out the woodwork prior to construction, are still evident.

The particular decoration of roof timbers as seen from within, reveals the existence of a local style peculiar to Pembridge only.

In Bridge Street, No. 2 of 1502 on, shows the replacement now of the open hall style by new two storied houses, while Glan Arrow Cottages, further down, with its 2 floors (date 1523) is similar, while Bridge Cottage, next to the river seems to be aligned to a ford which may have preceded the bridge crossing. Worthy of note is the fact that these buildings in Bridge Street are all much later than those previously seen.

This flurry of new building, of the 1400s onwards raises questions about what happened to previously built houses for instance during the Glendower campaigns, but the survival of the Church Bell Tower (favourites for Glendowers destructive instincts) suggests other possibilities. The succession of the House of York, following the death of the last Mortimer in the 1420s, may have provided an impetus for improvements, but the disturbance of the Wars of the Roses, during which many other Yorkist towns (including Ludlow) were attacked may have made comparisons with similarities elsewhere less obvious.

The Society will have the opportunity to visit Pembridge accompanied by Duncan James on Sunday July 14th, and to sample local fare of more recent origin. Review by JR.

Dates for your diary

Sunday 30th June; John Davis, a resident of Knighton, will take us on a guided walk around this ancient border town. This one finishes with a cream tea in John’s lovely riverside garden.

Sunday 14th July; Duncan James will lead a guided walk around Pembridge. On this walk we will discover and discuss the construction of some of the buildings Duncan mentioned in his April talk to the Society.

Editor: Vera Harrison