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The River Wye



LOWV walks - Brampton Abbotts and Hole-in-the-Wall

Sunday 13th August, 2006

Heather Hurley and PJ Pikes led a circular walk from Brampton Abbotts Village Hall to Court Farm at Hole-in-the-Wall (courtesy PGL)

Brampton Abbotts was held by St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester with another portion held by St Guthlac’s Priory in Hereford until the Dissolution. The parish name, Monk’s Grove and Abbotts Meadow reflect its past monastic associations. The principal landowners in the mid C19th were Lord Ashburton and the Dews. The church dedicated to St Michael dates from the Norman period, and the original Victorian school has been converted into a dwelling when the school moved into the outskirts of Ross. The landscape has changed dramatically since the mid C19th small fields and strips have been enlarged into huge arable fields.

The old vicarage at Brampton Abbotts



Townsend Farm was originally sited further to the east and was owned by the the prominent local family, the Scudamores, in the 18th century. It was later purchased by Lord Ashburton and between 1838 and 1888 was moved to its present site.

Townsend Farm was sold in 1890 as ‘A Superior Farm Residence containing on the UPPER FLOOR (to which there are two staircases), 5 Bed Rooms and Store Room; on the GROUND FLOOR, Entrance Hall, 3 pleasant Sitting Rooms, Kitchen and Back Kitchen; Cellar in Basement’  together with an extensive range of farm buildings and the Cot buildings near the Wye. In 1941 the Ministry of Agriculture surveyed this farm under the tenancy of J Snell who farmed 552 acres with 9 workers. Apart from the arable there was grazing for 133 cattle, 407 sheep, 70 pigs, 450 fowl and 13 horses.




Wilfords Green: Its name, situation on the riverbank, and its approach by two ancient trackways suggest a ford crossing, which was probably crossed by the Welsh from Archenfield in the mid 12th century when they raided Brampton Abbotts. (Does the name derive from 'Welsh' ford?)


A memorial cross marks a tragic incident that occurred in 1904 when the Rev. Harry St. Helier Evans lost his life saving two children who had been swept away towards Backney Bridge. Upstream are the overgrown Withy Beds, where withies were cut for basket making.

Monk’s Grove is a small steep-sided wood which was partly replanted in 1986 by volunteers of the Wye Valley Countryside Service. Rows of oak, ash, lime, chestnut, cherry, alder and hornbeam have now matured. The northern end of Monks Grove forms the boundary between Brampton Abbotts and Foy.

Hole-in-the-Wall: is a curious place with a name possible derived from the Domesday Turlestane a ‘hole-stone’, or ‘holy well’. It is situated in Foy East known as Eaton Tregoz where William Grandison was granted a licence to crenellate his dwelling in 1309, which has led to it being known as a castle. In 1420  the manor house contained ‘One hall, one great chamber, at the end of the hall, and under it a buttery and pantry; a parlour with a chamber adjoining, a chapel with a chamber adjoining, a chamber called John ap Harry’s Chamber, a kitchen, a bakehouse, a brewery, a great stable, a great barn, a chamber over the lower gate, a chamber over the outer gate, a great oxhouse, with divers other tiled houses built on the site’. In 1805 Brayley & Britton found ‘the remains of some ancient buildings, consisting of the foundations of some well-built walls, with huge stones lying about: ……What is now shown as Hole-in-the-Wall, is an excavation formed in the rocky bank of a neighbouring garden; but the spot is so overgrown with brambles, as to be difficult of access. When complete, it consisted of a flight of steps leading downwards to a cavity, sufficiently capacious to contain about twenty persons.’

Court Farm is almost certainly on the site of Eton Tregoz 'castle' or manor house as shown on earlier maps. The building dates from the late 17th century with a vaulted basement and an extension  to the north-east. Before it was sold to PGL in 1965 it was a farm of 150 acres worked by Douglas Williams from 1943. A legend exists that was reported in 1921, that a tunnel once led from the cellar of Ingestone on the east side of the Wye to the Rick yard of Court Farm on the west side. When investigated ‘the appearance was the of a filled-up well to within about three feet of the surface’.

PJ Pikes in the Court Farm cellar

photo Fenny Smith


Steps in the old cellars at Court Farm, Hole-in-the-Wall

photo Paul Newman

The Anchor and Can public house also dates from the 17th century with later additions. It has an interesting hearth with a kitchen range and in the garden there is an attractive well. The other house and  the Abrahall Almshouses also date from the 17th century.

The old Anchor and Can public house


The old range in the former Anchor and Can

photo Fenny Smith

The Gatehouse is derelict, but until 1971 it was a smallholding run by George Fry who ‘supplied most of the inhabitants of Hole-in-the-Wall with milk, from his very old and interesting home known as the Gatehouse. Built in 1799 as an alehouse, the Boatman’s Rest, this catered not only for the bargees passing between Hereford and Monmouth, but also to those crossing the ford below it to West Foy – innocent then, as now, of any such place of refreshment. But trade declined and the railway came. In the mid 19th century, a fair-sized room at the east end housed the school until shortly after 1870. The farmer was also the keeper of the large white gate, and grazed about five cows on the common land running along the river bank.’ After being sold to PGL in 1973 it was damaged by fire in 1975.

The 'Gatehouse' formerly the Boatman's Rest


Site of Camp: due to its field name and L-shaped earthwork this has been marked on as ‘Camp’ on maps, but when visited by the Royal Commissioner in 1929 it was reported ‘to be largely natural’ with ‘small definite evidence of camp’. At Hill of Eaton aerial photographs show traces of Bronze Age ring ditches.


Since the mid 19th centurythe Hill of Eaton Farm has replaced the old farmhouse here.


Hollow-way at Hill of Eaton


Townsend Cottages is an early barn conversion belonging to Townsend Farm before it was re-sited. The former Smithy is one of two in Brampton Abbotts listed in 1867 when there was also a wheelwright, sawyer, carpenter, shopkeeper and beer retailer.  It is noticeable that the village has developed around two orchards called Phelps’s and Wall Orchards in 1838.




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