Bulletin 427

December, 2018          

UPDATE

From the  Extraordinary General Meeting in September it was clear that a merger with Kington Museum was likely, due mainly to the lack of interest from the membership in helping to run the Society. In particular, since Nancy Wheatland resigned as our programme secretary, nobody has been willing to take this on, so we had no programme beyond the Annual General Meeting. At this point a working group was formed to look at the way ahead and to consider the steps needing to be taken, however the final vote went. This group comprises Julia Reid, Margaret Atkinson and Alan Stoyel, all of whom serve on both committees, Nick Robinson who is on the History Society committee, and led by Denise North, a Museum committee member with considerable experience of charities management. A ballot was held at the end of the History Society’s Annual General Meeting in October. The choice was a stark one – either the Society was to merge with the Museum, or be disbanded. By the time all the votes had been received, including those sent by email or post, the final result was 46 in favour of a merger and 3 against.

This confirmed that, from the History Society’s point of view, an amalgamation of the two bodies would be the better outcome. Caroline Giles and Mary Tolhurst did put themselves forward as being willing to be part of a group to plan any future talks and visits, but this had no bearing on the result. The working group has had a subsequent meeting at which the next steps were formulated. The reasons received from any members as to why they had voted against the merger were discussed.

It was now up to the Museum to determine the feelings of its committee, friends and volunteers. On November 20th, at its AGM, another ballot was held, and the results favoured an amalgamation.

In the meantime, since the Society had no ongoing programme, Vera’s quiz and the Christmas social were brought forward to occupy the space that, in the past, would had been occupied by a talk. This was the very last meeting of the Society, and an opportunity to socialise, but it was poorly attended. Many members missed a particularly good quiz and excellent refreshments. As usual we have John Rerrie to thank for providing the drinks.

At the Annual General Meeting our treasurer, John Potts, resigned, both from the treasurership and the committee. We owe him a tremendous debt of thanks for so many years of service. Our thanks, too, go to his wife Thelma, who, along with John, has done so much to further the interests of the Society in so many ways. We are fortunate in having Margaret Atkinson to take his place. Margaret is also treasurer of the Museum, and is to be assisted by Gill Wilson, the Museum’s former treasurer, who will be doing all the book-keeping.

From the two bodies will emerge a single organisation, and the working group will guide both committees through this transition, ensuring that every step is democratic, that all statutory regulations are followed, and that it is in the common interest. For the last three years I had had in my mind that this was likely to be the way ahead, and subsequent developments have shown that this has to be the best outcome.

Now that this stage has been reached, I have resigned from the chair of the Museum, and Denise North has taken the position on. She is younger and more able to see things through, and I am confident the new organisation has an exciting future, combining the assets of both bodies. What is important to us all is that precious local records and artefacts stay here in Kington for the benefit of the Kington area’s inhabitants and visitors.

In due course a further updating Bulletin will be circulated.

(Alan Stoyel, chairman)

WISHING ALL MEMBERS A HAPPY CHRISTMAS

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Bulletin 426

October – November, 2018

History Society Annual General Meeting
This is a reminder that the Kington History Annual General Meeting will be on Friday October 19th at 7.30pm. at Kington Primary School. It is important that as many members attend as possible because, at the end of the meeting, there will be the official ballot to decide whether it is the wish of the Society to amalgamate with Kington Museum, or to be dissolved.
At the Extraordinary General Meeting held on September 21st secret votes were cast, ahead of the Annual General Meeting. This was to obtain an indication of the feelings of members about the proposal of amalgamation as otherwise the future looked unsustainable. The results from this, and other votes received in writing were 35 in favour of amalgamation and 5 against. The main problem was the lack of members willing to help run the Society and, in particular, to organise a programme of lectures and visits. Despite pleas, no offers of assistance have yet been received.
A working party has been set up to discuss the way forward and, although the will of members appears to be strongly in favour of amalgamation, it is necessary to have an official  ballot at the AGM as a final determination of our future.
If you are unable to attend the meeting you will receive a voting slip. Please return this to Julia Reid, Kington Museum, Mill Street, Kington, Herefordshire HR5 3AL or submit your vote by email to kh.soc@hotmail.com. The closing date for receipt of votes will be Monday November 5th.
Please make sure you let us have your vote. This is vital in order for the working party to take us forward in the right direction.

Vera’s Annual Quiz and Social Evening
Since no further talks are scheduled, Vera’s Quiz will now take place at 7.30pm on Friday November 23rd. It will be followed by buffet refreshments, so please bring contributions. If each person provides at least as much as they intend to eat, it should complete an enjoyable evening.
Alan Stoyel.
(Please remember that we need items for the raffle too!   I shall make the questions easy this year, so don’t be put off).   Editor:  V. Harrison. Please spread the word with regard to the AGM and the Quiz.

Bulletin  425

October, 2018-10-03               EGM. History Society 21.9.2018

(This EGM is probably the most important in the 41st year of the Society’s history.   Printed below is the summary of our present position, which was put to the meeting by our Chairman, Alan Stoyel).

We are at a crossroads and we have to decide which turning, or turnings, we take. A working party was set up comprising Margaret Atkinson, Nick Robinson and me, to analyse the Society’s problems. You have seen our recommendations regarding combining forces with the Museum, and we will be taking a vote on this later. The following is our assessment of the present position with regard to this Society.

Our financial problems were set out in the previous Bulletin, and the future looks unsustainable.

The basic problem, however, is that members are so unwilling to help in the running of the Society that we cannot continue in the same way as we have in the past. We have tried to fill committee places, but to no avail.

Following our Constitution, in our committee we are supposed to have Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Programme Secretary, Treasurer & 6 other members. The present situation is very different. We are really struggling. I cannot cope with being chairman for much longer, we have no Vice Chairman, no Programme Secretary, our Treasurer is retiring in October and we have only 3 other committee members.

To make matters worse, our secretary is having to do much more than she should. Apart from her secretarial duties she runs stalls to raise money for the Society, answers queries and carries out research for members of the public on our behalf.

Nancy Wheatland, our former programmes secretary worked extremely hard to come up with an excellent series of very good talks and visits. She gave plenty of notice of when she was going to leave, but nobody would take the job on, so we have no programme, even for this season. Her husband Mark, who is no longer on the committee, has been incredibly supportive, preparing the room for talks and acting as chauffeur for some of the speakers

John Potts, our Treasurer, and his wife Thelma (who is not on the committee), have done way more than would be expected of them. Apart from keeping immaculate accounts, between them they maintain membership lists, past & present, and see to it that all members receive their Bulletins, postingand even delivering by hand. They are both invaluable, but they are retiring at the AGM.Nearly all this activity on behalf of the Society has either finished, or will finish next month.

Our President, Vera Harrison does the editing and organises the printing of bulletins and annual papers, as well as doing the Christmas Quiz.   She also maintains the Bulletins by email to members who have opted for this method.

Margaret Atkinson has kindly agreed to take over as Treasurer, but she has many other commitments and cannot be expected to do the extra tasks which John & Thelma have taken under their wing. For a start she has already stepped into the breach of being Treasurer for the Museum.

Now, If we have no more talks or visits, we cannot expect members to pay a subscription. Who is prepared to arrange these to justify our existence? Maybe we should have fewer talks and visits, but we still need someone to organise them. Most of all we need a programme secretary. The committee will give whatever encouragement and help they can. If anyone feels able to give this a try please come and see us

The next most important vacancy is a vice chairman. As I said before, I cannot cope with being chairman for much longer, and I have other commitments which mean I cannot always attend functions, also, continuity is so important. Again, if there is   anyone here tonight who would be prepared to step in, please make yourself known. In addition, we still require more members of committee with particular skills to offer.

I hope you have all read the text which was circulated with the Bulletin about  the possible amalgamation with the Museum. Be quite clear, however, if our decision is to go ahead with this, we still need to build up our strength now so that we can continue as a partner with the Museum rather than be swallowed up by it. If you feel able to help in any way, please let us know.

I now open the meeting for discussion, followed by a secret ballot. The results will be announced at the AGM.

 

[To date nobody has offered to fill any of the vacancies].                                         Editor:  V.Harrison

Bulletin 422

May 2018

Highways and Waymarkers In the Three Counties from a talk by Jan Sorbie

Highways are roads with a legal “right of way” to all, in either direction, as opposed to By ways, and are governed by various Acts of Parliament through history, but from prehistoric times, travel routes across the Country have existed, and constant usage has made them identifiable as such.

The earliest were probably drover’s pathways – as they were well established before the Romans came.  It is said that a prominent fir tree was a later indicator of a site ready for a ‘stop over’.

Any frequently used pathway by all and sundry became so worn down, that they were noted as ‘holloways’ – but often happily with a stone verge for pedestrians.

Once settlements were occupied, some sort of trade could begin, and that in salt is very ancient.  Saltways usually followed high ground, and were named ‘white ways’, and it could be fair to assume that “white horses” cut into chalk, high on the South Downs, were a form of ‘waymark’ for salters on their way from the Midlands into Wessex. Near here, the saltway crossing the Teme at the Ashfords, ran between hill tops on either side – both labelled “white heads”.

Once the Romans arrived, swift communications were necessary, and as there was now much vehicular traffic, proper ‘built roads’ were laid out, being mainly in straight lines, as that was less expensive than going round and about, and stone paved roadways (streets) were defined by ditches alongside.  This profusion meant that markers of some sort had to be provided, which gave rise to ‘milestones’ (mile = 1000 steps), which often gave distances and names for travellers.

As there were 7.400 miles of Roman Roads, milestones must have been plentiful, but as they were of good quality stone, many eventually were found other uses, and only 100 still survive – and if not in a museum – are found at the extremities – like Wales and the North of England.

Maintaining roadways has always been a problem, and at first manors, then later Parishes, were obliged to attempt it – eventually enforced by Parliament in a ‘Statute of Labour’ of 1555, and in 1697, guide posts at crossroads were enforced also.  Eventually, the Highways Act of 1835, allowed Local Authorities, and late County Councils to use a Highway Rate to provided more organized and on going upkeep and development.

Turnpikes, to finance busy road upkeep, started to appear after 1700, and they were obliged to provide mileposts with useable information, at first just stone pillars, later cast iron posts with mileages and names of nearby towns, and many have survived until now – supplemented by ‘finger posts’ variously of cast iron, or even just wood, at Road Junctions.

Tolls were collected at Turnpike Cottages, and many of these survive, especially around Kington, and some have even been resited into museums!

Maps with roads started early, the nearest equivalent being the “Antonine Itinery”, of Roman times, from 214 A.D., listing 200 different roads, with the towns and settlements named, and in England, was noted that there were 15 different roads leading out of London into the country, (however not available locally!).

The first proper English map of roads, that survives showing considerable detail and extent, is now 650 years old (rescued by Richard Gough in the 1800s) but was more or less a ‘one off’, as when more maps of Britain were prepared and published in Tudor times – there were lots of towns shown, but noroads – only obstacles to transport noted – i.e. rivers and mountains (and private parkland!), and it was not until the mid 1600s that a proper set of Road maps appeared, as Ogilvie’s “Brittania” of 1675 with separate strips for each main road, with town labels, and nearby connections shown.

So, now there is a plethora of road maps available, but new means of finding your way about on the move exist, possibly the most interesting legacies of earlier times, are the surviving A.A. signs of the early 1900s at the entrance to each town.

JR.

The second of our Summer Visitsis on 30thJune from 3pm when we go Back to School at Goff’s Endowed School, Huntingdon (1791 – 1953), led by Mary Whittall. There will be a Chapel tea afterwards. Booking is again essential : Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691 or Julia Reid 01544 231663. Cost £5, and as parking is limited, car share would be advisable.

Editor: Vera Harrison

Bulletin 421

April 2018

On the Trail of the Mortimers from a talk by Philip Hume

The Mortimers were “big” in the Border area, and don’t really need a ‘trail – they were everywhere, even if now the only common surviving use of the name is Mortimers Cross, on the way to Wigmore, but it was only a late addition.

We know of the Mortimers as a family introduced to this area following the Conquest by William of Normandy, who was a friend of the very first Mortimers, (who took his name from a transitory Castle in Northern France) but who was not present at Hastings, and it was his son, Ralph, who came across 10 years later, and was offered property hereabouts, and who entered the annals by dealing with the rampaging Eric Streona – “the wild”, some time before Domesday.  He was offered Wigmore, after a frequent occurrence – a revolt by the original family, and at Domesday, was shown to have 12 manors across Hereford and Shropshire, and 100 manors altogether across England – from Somerset to Lincolnshire!  This actually fits in with King William’s scheme in rewarding his feudal nobility – in spreading their ownership so widely, to possibly prevent them from being such large local landowners, that they could become the focus of localized dissent against the Crown.

During the “Anarchy” of the mid 1100s, Hugh was loyal to Stephen, but when Henry II materialized, switched his allegiance.  He married a Welsh lady of noble descent, and this began their entry into “Wales”, via Radnor and further, which gave him some extra clout which he was soon able to use.

This was nicely demonstrated later, when during the reign of King John (who couldn’t be more unpopular), Hugh I gathered a group of local Barons nearby, to offer support to the beleaguered King, – this was probably at Baron’s Cross near Leominster, which did actually happen elsewhere as well!

During the reign of King Henry III, who was not a bright spark, there was much unrest, lead by Simon de Montfort, who actually captured the King and Prince Edward, who escaped with the help of the Mortimers, and then who brought them his new Welsh allies to support the Crown at the Battle of Evesham.  Prince Edward put captured local territory into the care of Roger Mortimer, which included Kington, and he introduced a Welsh friend as the new occupant of Hergest Court, lately vacated by the de Braose family after King John’s attentions.  However, Roger’s brother in law Humphrey de Bohun, who had also married a de Braose heiress, was able to split the inheritance which included Kington, for him, which was how the Mortimers really influenced the history of Kington.

This was one feature of the Mortimer family – advantageous marriages to heiresses (some very young) plus often long lived chiefs, and lots of sons in case of trouble.

This happened again when Roger IV, aged 14yrs, married Joan, aged 15, (heiress of Ludlow Castle,) in Pembridge Church, which the Mortimers then had rebuilt, and by the same team which had just completed the rebuilding of the nave of Kington Church.

However, the most enduring legacy of the Mortimer marriage occurred in the early 1400s when a daughter married a Royal Prince, whose descendent was Edward of York, of Ludlow, which kicked off the Wars of the Roses, later eventually wound up when the Lancastrian victor (Henry VII), a de Bohun descendant!, married a York Princess, a descendant of the Mortimers, and the rest is history.

(That young Roger IV, when he became truly important in the reign of Edward III, selected the title, “Earl of March”, rather than just plain County name, and this fell into disuse in Tudor times, but in fact still exists, but is from the descent of a Scottish title, coming into prominence in the reign of Charles II.)

Review JR.

Bulletin 420

March, 2018

February Meeting

Mediaeval Bridges by Mike Salter

Elegant, arched bridges of neatly dressed stone were an enormous feature of the Middle Ages – superseding various other ways of attempting to cross flowing water, from earlier times.

The oldest means depended on a ford, relying on the variable flow of the water, perhaps supplemented by the availability of a raft, or such like, which may have been a feature locally at the original “Sunset” Crossing in Kington.

When the water level was not too deep – stepping stones allowed dryshod crossing in favourable circumstances, and could have lead to the addition of a continuous footway by including wooden planks, on stone plinths, much favoured here by the Romans, or where large stone slabs were available – to “clapper bridges”, as seen in the West Country.

The Anglo Saxons attempted crossing with wooden made bridges, but although they were not durable, they were replaceable – and we can still see a large tree trunk, used to cross the “Betch” at Old Castle near Almeley.

Increased trade and travel (both commercial and military) in the Middle Ages – spurred on by the extensive use of stone structures such as castles and large churches, with the necessary skills and organized supplies, lead to the erection of proper stone bridges, arched, with roadways, and containing parapets at the side (except for packhorse bridges, where the panniers of the horses were low slung).

As protection against erosion, cutwaters shielded the arches, and could provide road level refuges for pedestrians, well seen at Ludford and Hereford.

With ever increasing trade and traffic – two way flow across the bridge, especially near towns, became necessary, and the best known of these was old London Bridge, (where the Thames had been forded in Roman times!). Because of the extra expense, room was provided for houses and shops on either side, and two way traffic lead to the imposition of “keep left”, on the bridge, and perhaps elsewhere.

When the approach to the bridge was liable to be flooded, a stone and earth “Causeway” was necessary, and Mordiford over the lower Lugg near Hereford is a good example.

As Bridges became more than just utilitarian, they became involved with other stone structures – well seen in Monmouth, where it is part of the Town Wall Gateway, and other uses apart from shops and houses included garderobes and Jail Cells.

Money for Bridge building was always a contentious subject – Saxon freemen being liable, later the “Lord of the Manor” of feudal times, and towns could raise a “portage tax”. Later, adjacent authorities could be responsible for their side of a particular bridge, seen at Tenbury on the County border, where the two ends did join in the middle.

These difficulties lead to the Church playing a big part in providing funds, and the legacy of this is the number of chapels seen on or near to a stone bridge, as money given to them as alms, could be used for upkeep.

So a survey of “Mediaeval bridges” tends to be wound up with the onset of the Reformation, when chantry chapels were dissolved, and new statutes came into force for ensuring funding.

This period is neatly rounded off for us, by the accounts of the travels of the scholar John Leland, in Tudor England, of the mid 1500s, where every town and bridge he crossed is noted, especially from Hereford up to Leominster. He notes that there is no bridge on the Wye above Hereford, until Builth Wells. The Arrow Bridges mentioned are from Broadward, up to Ivington, and to Pembridge, all still in place, and going upstream on the Lugg, there is no mention of anything at Mortimers Cross (or Aymestry!) but of especial interest to Kington, is the Bridge at Kinsham, probably sponsored by Limebrook Nunnery, and of course that at Presteigne – both still in place.

However, that at Kinsham shows an example of future developments in bridge construction, very prominent in a neighbouring County!   Review by JR.


Dates for your Diary   

For our March meeting Kington History Society will be On the Trail of the Mortimers thanks to Philip Hulme. His talk will be on Friday 16th March at 7-30pm in Kington Primary School, Mill Street as usual.

In the centuries after the Norman Conquest the Mortimer family grew, first to dominate the Welsh Marches then the whole country. One Mortimer ruled the country having forced the King to abdicate, another married into the Royal family and the Mortimers came into close succession to the crown, and one won the crown in battle. Philip’s talk records their fascinating history and is illustrated with castles, churches, abbeys, battle sites in the Welsh Marches and nearby locality. He will take questions afterwards and we have a follow up in May with a summer visit.

Members are free, visitors £2 which includes tea or coffee and biscuits.

Bulletin 419

February, 2018

Herefordshire Home Front in World War 1 from a talk by Bill Laws

In any war, there are two fronts at least, those doing the fighting, usually abroad, and those at home, picking up the pieces, and doing the best they can, carrying on more or less as usual, and trying to cope with shortages of labour and material including clothing, food. The First World War was of about the usual duration, but the effects were completely different to those preceding it, and affected both fronts in ways which completely altered the ways in which we live.

Some comparisons are necessary here with the rest of the Country. The population of the County then, was about 114.000, but this was only about one three hundredth of the total population of England and Wales. It was split more or less 50/50, between town and country. In the countryside, two thirds of the land was under grass, as pastures, and one third was of cereal, oats, wheat and barley, along with fruit trees and hops. Of the live stock ⅔ were sheep, and the remaining ⅓ was of mainly cattle, with pigs and horses about one quarter each of that amount.

As an inland County, Hereford was removed from any direct effects of the fighting, but contributed to both fronts – having a large number of conscripts to the Forces from very early on – partly a legacy of the Volunteers, dating back to Napoleon’s time, and partly because of the relative paucity other jobs available to young men. Conscription in towns more or less relied on that Victorian introduction – the railways, with embarkation beginning at the local station. Jobs open to men in town had been mostly low skilled, or for a few brewing, or for entry into the clothing trade, which served a wide area beyond the towns.

For girls, most opportunities were in service of some kind, although as a legacy of the Crimean War, nursing was becoming as option. The recent introduction of Teacher Training Collages was opening another door.

In the Countryside, most jobs for men would have been in farm work, with some in transport, and for girls, most jobs could have been indoors. It was said that the quality of education available to most children was not of a high standard, which handicapped choices in occupations.

The most profound effect of conscription to the Forces, whether voluntary or compulsory, was in the effect on farming, with women having to take up jobs there, not necessarily to the relief of the Farmers, who were reluctant to have ‘milk maids’! Women had to begin serious land work, and had to be able to manage horse drawn equipment for harvest and transport.

However a striking effect of the War was the need for horses to serve overseas, and all the farms were visited for requisition. The results of this was a complete change in motive power sources, with women eventually becoming able to handle steam vehicles for ploughing, and the introduction of motorized tractors, which needed “driving”, and as an offshoot of this, was the number of photos of women, who had been “called up” wearing ? driving gloves, and therefore acting as such in the Services or at home. Women had been joining an Auxiliary Service from early on, doing mainly Army jobs not actually concerned with fighting.

Another spin off, was the more or less complete deforestation of the County, to remedy a shortage of timber, needed for the War effort – which meant even more land could go under the plough (for the ladies to manage).

Rather strangely – hunting continued throughout the war, said to be necessary for providing “Riding Practice” (? For the officers)

The most profound changes for women began in 1916, when Munitions Factories were started, needing careful skills, with hostels having to be provided, as many came from out of town, and rates of pay offered that outstripped anything previously available to them. To add to this, they were allowed to form their very own football team – the very first for girls.

Other things in the news, were tribunals to enforce conscription, and the various means used to avoid it, both by employers and possible subject, and from very early on, the acceptance of evacuees – initially from Belgium, as that had been the first country invaded by Germany, and Kington had provided accommodation here.

So apart from the severe losses suffered by many families of their members, one legacy of the war and its changes was noticeable for many years later, as very many of those Army motor lorries became redundant, and were adapted to more peaceful purposes – in transport, and of course being rebuilt and serving as country busses throughout the County, making town and Country more accessible to each other.   Review: JR


Our February meeting will be on Friday 16th at 7-30pm in Kington Primary School, Mill Street as usual. This will be an illustrated talk by Mike Salter on Medieval Bridges when he will cover about 40 of the 500 bridges in England, Wales & Scotland which date from mid-16th century (i.e. pre Reformation) – an important point as the Church, especially monasteries & bishops, played a huge role in the building of bridges. Mike will cover the distribution of surviving bridges, some important lost ones, what their features were, and will also include clapper bridges and bridge chapels. Mike will take questions afterwards and some books will be on sale. Members are free, visitors £2. Carolyn Giles.