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River Wye


history: 1895


Kellys Directory of Herefordshire for 1895 gives an insight into the people of the area. Most named individuals are farmers. This is reflected in the 1891 and 1901 censuses where the greatest number of men are classed as agricultural labourers.

The clergy

The spiritual guidance of the population in the area was in the hands of a small group of clergymen. These answered to the deans of three separate rural deaneries.

In the north-east, in the rural deanery of Hereford, Rev Thomas West was vicar of the parishes of Fownhope and Brockhampton. He had held Fownhope since 1865 and was a prebendary of Hereford.

In the south two parishes, Brampton Abbotts and How Caple were in the deanery of Ross. The rector of Brampton Abbotts was Rev Harry St Helier Evans, appointed 1890. At How Caple the rector was from 1884 Rev Thomas Beville Paynter , who also had charge of the adjacent parish of Sollers Hope.

The other parishes were in the deanery of Archenfield. The senior priest here, and indeed in any of our parishes was Prebendary William Poole MA JP, rural dean of Archenfield, who held Hentland and had been appointed in 1654. Poole also had a chapel-at-ease at Hoarwithy, which he had been responsible for rebuilding in its striking Italianate style.

The rector of Ballingham, with the attached chapel of Bolstone, was Rev William Richard Jenkins, appointed 1883. The vicar of Bridstow had been since 1892 by Rev Henry Blane Porter. At Sellack, with the attached chapelry of Kings Caple the vicar had been since 1887 Rev Augustin Ley. The vicar of Holme Lacy was Rev Robert Elton Lee, appointed in 1892. At Foy the vicarage had been held since 1862 by Rev Charles Turner Wilton. 

We do not know the educational background of Harry St Helier Evans of Brampton Abbots, but the others had all attended Oxford. Henry Porter and Charles Wilton were Exeter men; William Jenkins, Jesus; Thomas West, St Edmund Hall; William Poole, Oriel; Robert Lee, Magdalen; Thomas Paynter, Wadham and Augustin Ley, Christchurch.

Just to the north of Fownhope there was a Cambridge man: The rectory of Mordiford had been held since 1894 by Rev Claud Hamilton Dallas Lighton BA of Clare College.

The schools

Education was universal in 1895, for both boys and girls, and there were schools for all the children in the area. Most boys would become agricultural labourers. At two schools the educational needs of the girls was specifically met by teachers who taught them needlework.

Ballingham National School (mixed) for 45 pupils: 34 average attendance - Miss Julia Brisland, mistress.


Brampton Abbotts National School (mixed) for 40 pupils: 36 average attendance – Miss Alice Dowding, mistress.


Bridstow National School for 110 pupils: 80 average attendance – master’s house – master George A Driver; sewing mistress Mrs Ada Driver.


Brockhampton Parish school (mixed) built in 1875 for 50: children average attendance 43 – Mrs Amelia Blythe, mistress.



Fownhope National School (mixed) built in 1868 for 144 children: average attendance 94 - Joseph Booth Marshall master.



Foy Parochial School (mixed) built 1872 for 60 children: average attendance 42, William Lord, master.



Hentland National School (mixed) built 1866 with master’s house, for 100 children: average attendance 70 – William J Threlfall, master; Miss Elizabeth Wallen, needlework mistress.



Holme Lacy National School (mixed), built with teacher’s residence attached in 1860, for 60 children: average attendance 45 - Miss Lucy March, mistress.



How Caple School - 'Here is a joint school for the children of this parish and Sollershope, with accommodation for 40 children; average attendance 27; built at the cost of the late rector and his family connections'


Kings Caple National School (mixed) erected in 1840 by public subscription, for 50 children: average attendance 33: Miss Bessie Vivian-Higham, mistress.



Sellack Parish School (mixed) built in 1847 for 50 children: average attendance 41 - Miss Fanny Susan Colcombe, mistress.


The sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses

In a literate age without telephones and email almost all communication was by letter, and although there were some telegraph offices these were used only on rare occasions.

There were post offices at both railway stations, Fawley and Holme Lacy (Ballingham and Backney Halt had yet to open), and at Backney, Brampton Abbotts, Carey, Fownhope, Hoarwithy, How Caple, Picts Cross, St Owen's Cross, Totnor and Wilton.

The old post office and Blacksmith's shop at Totnor

At the stations, the stationmasters were also the sub-postmasters, Arthur Smith at Fawley and Francis Hayes at Holme Lacy. At Fownhope the sub-postmaster William Halford was a shopkeeper as was Mrs Emma Peachey at Wilton (more specifically 'grocer, corn-dealer and builder'.

Five of the sub-postmaster were blacksmiths - William Davis at St Owen's Cross, James Harris at How Caple, John Voyce at Backney, William Tommy at Picts Cross and John Turner at Brampton Abbotts. William Davis being a farmer as well as a blacksmith.

In addition to the post offices, letters could be posted at a number of wall letter boxes in the area - Ash Farm, Jenkin’s Wall, Old Gore, Hole-in-the-Wall and Baysham.

the wall letter box at Ashe Farm, Bridstow in June 2006


Other occupations

Transport needs were met by a number of trades - there were wheelwrights at Brampton Abbots (William Phillips), Sellack Marsh (Richard Amies), Kings Caple (Thomas Brisland, carpenter & wheelwright) and Fownhope (John Bailey, wheelwright, blacksmith and beer retailer). Thomas Bond was a saddler at Hoarwithy and Philip Richard Vaughan was a harness-maker (and beer retailer) at Fownhope.

At Holme Lacy, John Seymour was a shoeing and general smith and agricultural implement repairer. Apart from the five smiths who were sub-postmasters, there were smiths at Brockhampton (John Griffiths, blacksmith and assistant overseer), Kings Caple (Harry and Francis Davis), Hoarwithy (Thomas Morris), Fownhope (William Taylor) and Bridstow (Ann Davis).

At Bridstow, William Dobbins, 'thrashing' machine owner, provided a mechaised service the local farmers.

Building and maintenance work in the area provided a number of jobs. At Fownhope William Ford and the Stone brothers were builders. Edmund John Jones was a mason who kept the Anchor Inn at Even Pits, Fownhope, and Richard Preece was a stone mason at Sellack Common where the carpenter George Herbert also lived. John Jones was a carpenter at Fownhope. Finer work would have been done by joiners such Samuel Jenkins at Bridstow.

Most communities had access to shops at not too great a distance - few miles walk at most. Mrs Ellen Baldwin kept a shop at Wilton, Henry Winter at Brockhampton, Mrs Jane Cotterel and Thomas Steele at Foy, Edwin Hall at Kings Caple and Miss Mary Ozier at St Owen's Cross.

There were butchers at Hoarwithy (Andrew Mailes) and Fownhope (James Huff). The grocers usually sold other goods. At Fownhope one grocer, George Hartland, was a baker, corn merchant and agent for Alton Court ales and stout while the other, Charles Henry Rowberry, was a draper. At Hoarwithy, Slade & Co were grocers and general dealers and at Holme Lacy, James Holdsworth Carlisle was also the coal merchant.

There was a tailor at St Owen's Cross, John Wesley Philpotts, and another,  John Wellington, at Ballingham. At Fownhope there were two establishments of dressmakers - the Misses Jane and Emily Marico and Miss Elizabeth Goodman. WilliamWilliams was a shoe maker at Fownhope and William Nicholas a boot maker at Kings Caple.

Only one person is listed as making his living directly from the river - George Harris of Kings Caple is described as a fisherman. James Cooper, basketmaker at Wilton, presumably got his raw material from the banks of the Wye there



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Wye Valley History pages

maintained by Archenfield Archaeology Ltd


This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.