October Talk: The Weobley Ash Story by Dave Pickersgill
Few people give a thought to the small farm at Weobley Ash as they speed along the Turnpike towards Presteigne – a small outpost of Staunton on Arrow Parish, with an interesting and significant history.
It was thought that the little farm was started as a squatter’s cottage in the early 1600s. However, as the cottage was a fairly substantial building, next to the old main road between Pembridge and Presteigne, running from the Broadford towards the Rodd (and now only a footpath), and is neatly tucked into the corner of a planned field, which in Herefordshire, where enclosures of the common field started in the early 1600s, by consent, it is more likely that it was the basis of a proper agricultural building, as landholders started to move out and occupy areas nearer to the land which they worked, and for which they were responsible, and this is also very obvious in other Midland Counties when field enclosure took place in the 1700s and later, by consent or from Parliamentary Acts.
The name however is ancient – “Weobley” is a later corruption of “Whitty Tree” – the Mountain Ash, and a nearby field is labelled “Whetly field” in 1842.
Strangely, in the 1700s, during Harley ownership times, there was a Court Case as an ash tree locally was cut down without authority.
So the development of the site demonstrated the progress of rural history in the area – prosperity in Georgian farming led to an extensive, and in the 1800s with the arrival of the Railway – the branch line from Titley Junction to Presteigne, there is a further extension, and Railway cottages appeared to house permanent way workers, and a loading bay is placed next to the line to allow milk churns and other local produce to be dispatched – as much of Herefordshire farming was aimed at consumption in Midland towns and cities.
Otherwise, it was also a busy time, with a cobbler present, and also a laundry, able to make use of a well, over 100 feet down through the alluvial clay of the valley.
Unhappily there was a fire in 1960, and withdrawal of Railway services meant that activities now became focused on farming and food products prepared on site, to be delivered by the nearby main road, and the ancient building, now part of the Rodd Estate from 1967, acquired extensive timber cladding, to bring it right up to date, and our speaker may occasionally be seen behind a stall in a local market with his local ware on offer. Review by JR.
This talk was given at the AGM, the second talk we had that evening by Irene Smith will be reviewed in our December Bulletin. Many thanks to both speakers for an excellent evening.
Our November meeting is a joint affair with Kington Remembers WW1. There will be an entrance fee for non society members so all our members will have a free pass as this talk is not at the school but at The Burton Hotel Nov 20th 7-30pm and is a splendid talk on the Commonwealth war Graves by Lt Gen Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE. Your passes will have been available at our AGM or you can apply for one with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691 or Julia Reid 01544 231663. Please be aware if you do not have a pass then you will have to pay entrance as the people on the desk will not know if you are a KHS member. Thank you again in advance for your support on this evening. Hope you all like the look of the next year’s programme and if you have any ideas for talks or visits then please approach a KHS committee member.Nancy Wheatland .
(Please remember the Social & Quiz next month, December 4th. Details in next Bulletin).
Editor: V. Harrison