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.


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.

Bulletin 418

Letter from Gunner G.Watkins of S.Wales Borderers,D company, Brecknock Battalion, son of MM Watkins of K. Sister is Mrs Evans of Mill St, K. On board ship to Bombay.

23rd January, 1915.

Pembridge Parish Council

Present: Rev. Green-Price, W.Russell, W.Bridges, J.Kinsey, T.Russell, W.Goodwin, W.A.Williams, T.B.Francis.

“Weekly Despatch” bronze medallion for village with most men in forces. Pembridge has 35. Decided to submit their list for roll of honour Almeley.

Funeral of Henri Anneart aged 52. A Belgian refugee living at Woonton, Almeley. Died of consumption & heart trouble. 2 sons killed in war, 2 others & 4 dtrs at funeral.

Death of Mrs Weir of East St,Pembridge. Husband is pensioner of Queens Life Guards. Mrs Weir removed to workhouse and died there. Death hastened by death of Robert Weir of Scots Guards in action.

Recruit:- G.J.Price, Hardwick, Pembridge

13th February 1915

Infirmary Patients now moved into other quarters in workhouse freeing infirmary for wounded soldiers. War Office has notified Dr. Dryland that accomodation would probably be needed soon at short notice.

Army Recruiting

Volunteers Thomas Edwards, Titley, RA Welsh Army Pwllhelli

Edmund Phillips, Old Radnor,     “           “

For Herefds Reg. Amos Hall, Pembridge, E.E.Williams, Barrow Common, K.T.G.Dance, Sallies, Kinnersley.



Meeting at Burton Hotel for formation of Volunteer Training Corps. These are for men unable to go to the Front.

Local casualties: Pte Frederick Smith, 6, Baynhams Yard, Kington. Frost bite.

20th February 1915 Kington

Cinema show in Burton Hall, given by T.J.Hammer of Knighton, Border Counties Cinema Co. Proceeds to War Relief Fund.

Local Casualties

Pte. J.Watkins,Broken Bank,K.KSLI sick

Pte.J.Roberts,Church Cottage,Eardisley.KSLI,slight wound.

Mentioned in despatches

Lt.Col.W.H.Greenly,eldest son of E.H.Greenly,of Titley Court.


Death of Pte Frederick Wilkins, son of Mr. Mrs..F.J.Wilkins of Tow Tree,Burghill.Brother of Mrs Bert Blakely of Island Terrace,K In action with Coldstream Guards.7/2/1915.

13th March,1915.

Kington Notes

Sergt.W.M.Chambers of Cheshire Terr:, eldest son of W.C.Chambers of Beeches, K. commissioned in 7th. Batt. Cheshires.

Decided to economise in street lighting to light only one at Upper & Lower Crosses. And one in two of remainder.24 operating 28 sealed up.

(This is just a fragment of the ongoing report of Kington during WWI. It is hoped that the entire article, some 50 pages, will be printed in August).

 Dates for your Diary.

At our December meeting 22 of us braved the nasty weather and despite technical hiccoughs thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas Social and Vera’s Quiz.

Our next meeting is on 19th January when Bill Law will be speaking to us about the Herefordshire Home Front in World War One. This will be at 7.30 in Kington Primary School, Mill Street as usual. Members are free, visitors £2 to include refreshments.

Bulletin 417

The Lugg Navigation. by Alan Stoyel

This is a brief summary of a talk I gave, beset by technical difficulties with the projector, to the Society on Friday November 17th. A.S. 

There had long been a dream of bringing commercial traffic up the rivers Wye and Lugg as far as Hereford and Leominster respectively. In 1695 an Act was passed which made both these projects possible at last. This was followed, two years later, by a survey by Daniel Denell, who specified nineteen problem locations on the River Lugg. These sites were taken in hand, and, within a few years, the whole length of the river was navigable from just below Leominster down to the River Wye at Mordiford. To achieve this a number of mills and weirs were demolished, and the bridges modified in order to provide arches, sufficiently high and wide to take the river traffic. In many cases the central arch of a bridge was broken out, and a temporary drawbridge installed, until a permanent, higher arch was built, usually many years later.

Two of the mills survived, at Hampton Court and Tidnor (below Lugwardine), together with their weirs. Therefore two locks had to be provided to enable boats to pass up- or down-stream. Other locks were constructed just upstream of where the Lugg joined both the Arrow and the Wye, in order to deal with changing differences in the water levels. However, after all this work had been carried out, there appears to have been very little traffic. One new mill was even constructed after the navigation work had been completed – Lugg Bridge Mill, just downstream of the main Hereford to Worcester road. Alongside this a fifth lock had to be built.

At Tidnor, the mill was converted to an iron foundry, and this must have relied on river transport for conveying heavy loads in and out. Lugg Bridge Mill expanded in the early 19th century to become the largest in the county, and is thought to have shipped much grain in and flour out by boat.

Goods on the Lugg Navigation would have been conveyed primarily by trows. These were specialised sailing craft, broad in the beam and with almost flat bottoms. Propelled by sail or hauled by men, the trow had a mast which could be lowered for passing under bridges. The trow was purpose-made for the job. “The Hereford Bull”, built for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012, is a modern example.

Use of the Navigation upstream of Lugg Bridge Mill appears to have ceased by the 1830s. The last phase of the Gloucester to Hereford Canal was completed in 1845 and an aqueduct to carry it across the Lugg was built with low arches, thus finally sealing the fate of navigation upstream. Some river transport downstream of Lugg Bridge Mills continued for a while, but the river gradually reverted to its former state. To a casual observer there is little to be seen now of the River Lugg’s former adaptation and use as a commercial waterway.

There is still much field evidence remaining, however. The old road bridges, viewed from the riverside, show arches which had to be raised, and maybe widened. The locks, too, have all left their traces. These are testament to an extraordinary amount of hard work and ingenuity which never really resulted in a satisfactory link between Leominster and the navigable River Severn.

Bulletin 416

November, 2017

Saturday 16th September

Walk to Parkstile Cottage and afternoon tea with Sue Gee

After a super insight into her novel Mysteries of Glass, thirteen of us made the walk from Kington to Parkstile, as the fictional young curate would have done frequently in his time at Lyonshall Church. Victorian dress was optional, I raided the dressing up box and upon our arrival at the cottage one of our youngest members dressed as a Victorian girl. It certainly created the atmosphere needed to make the whole experience perfect and as authentic as possible. Julia Reid led our walk and pointed out various places on the way, including tram and railway lines, weirs and mill ruins but the most memorable was the picnic site by the river, that many a Kingtonian visited back in the times when simple pleasures made a perfect Sunday afternoon. It certainly provoked lots of conversation from the members who were walking, and memories came flooding back of paddling in the river, ball games, kite flying and jam sandwiches. The weather was kind to us and we all made it to the cottage in one piece, passing the Station master’s cottage, we all looked up at the window where, in the book, Alice looked down to see Richard arrive at the station on that cold dark night in 1860. It was quite a moment as those who had read the book knew of the story that unfolded afterwards and the relationship he built with this family.

We were greeted at the cottage by Sue and were immediately made to feel at home, her generosity and hospitality was appreciated by all who came. The lighting of the fires made the cottage feel alive and when Sue showed everyone around pointing out where Richard entertained his Mother and sisters, where he wrote his sermons and the place where he had a close encounter with Susannah. Tea was served by three of our most valuable society members, Thelma, Anne and Carolyn. I think it goes without saying it was relished by all. Sue took the members who came by car, to the Station master’s cottage down the lane and everyone agreed it brought the book to life especially when the cows came in to the back field and peered into the kitchen window, just as they had in the novel. After tea I do not think anyone was in a rush to leave, but eventually we all did and left Sue & her son alone in the most evocative cottage I had ever been in. Huge thanks again to Sue and her son for allowing us to invade their space and share the experience of the novel’s beginnings.

Nancy Wheatland.

Dates for your Diary.

Many members will know of Alan Stoyel’s long-standing interest in large, even huge scale engineering projects in the broadest sense, including of course the Mills Open Weekend. On 17th November Alan will be talking to us on another watery engineering theme, ‘Lugg Navigation’.

The meeting will be at 7.30 in Kington Primary School, Mill Street as usual. Members are free, visitors £2, which includes tea or coffee and biscuits.

Please keep Friday 8th December free for our rollicking Social & Quiz. Your generosity for Christmas fare and Raffle items would be greatly appreciated.

Editor: Vera Harrison