Project Info


The River Wye


Fownhope Herefordshire


Haugh Wood in the north of the parish is the largest wood in the area.


Fownhope church in the mid 19th century (courtesy of Hereford City Library)

The parish church of St Mary church has a tympanum of the Virgin and Child by the Herefordshire School of Romanesque sculptors.


Fownhope had been a manor of Thorkell the White in 1066.  In Domesday it was one of the manors of Hugh l’Asne, a follower of William fitz Osbern.

Fownhope was a sizable manor of 15 hides of which 10 paid tax.  There were 3 ploughs in lordship.

The villagers included 14 villeins, 10 bordars, 2 priests, a reeve, a smith and a carpenter together having 25 ploughs.  There were also 18 male and 8 female slaves.

There was a mill which paid 5 shillings and 3 fisheries which paid 300 eels.

In the reign of Henry III, the manor of Fownhope was in the hands of Roger de Chandos and part of the honour of Snodhill, a castle in the Golden Valley. Roger had a licence for a fair at Fownhope in 1221.

The manor remained in the Chandos family until 1428 when Sir John Chandos died and it was divided between the two heirs of his sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth's daughter Margery had Fownhope for life after which it reverted to the Crown.

It was then granted to Sir John Cornwall, who became Lord Fownhope (Fanhope) in 1433. Cornwall died in 1443 and Fownhope returned to the Crown.

Elizabeth I granted Fownhope to the Earl of Essex, from whom it descended to the Duchess of Somerset who in 1660 sold it to Dir William Gregory.

Fownhope Court

Image from A History of the Mansion and Manors of Herefordshire, Rev Charles Robinson, 1872


James Wathen’s view of Fownhope on 17th September 1798
(courtesy of Hereford City Library)

The house in the centre was that of Nathaniel Purchas, liquor dealer and brewer.  On the right is his brewery.




Nathaniel obtained his wines and spirits from Bristol. They were brought by boat up the Wye to Fownhope.

This photograph of Nathaniel Purchas's house was taken on Thursday 28th September, 2006 as part of the LOWV's survey of the river and its associated sites.



When Wathen was painting Nathaniel's house, Tom Winter, a three-year old butcher's son lived in Fownhope. As Tom Spring he would become the champion bare knuckle fighter of all England.

His early fights were  local and he was watched by the Duke of Norfolk at Holme Lacy House, the duke's home. Perhaps his most famous fight was against John Langan, the Irish champion, who he beat after 77 rounds. Tom Spring became proprietor of the Booth Hall Hotel in Hereford in 1824 and moved to London to the Castle Tavern in High Holborn in 1826. He died in 1851.

His story is told in 'Tom Spring, Bare-Knuckle Champion of All England' by Jon Hurley (Tempus, 2002). More recently 'Pugilists' a film about him and two modern Herefordshire boxers has been made by the Rural Media Company.

Fownhope was a busy river port in the 18th and early 19th centuries. At least one barge, the William of 40 tons, was built there being launched in 1815. A smaller vessel, the Ann and Peggy, a trow of 13 tons, was built at Fownhope in 1854.

Old houses in Fownhope a century ago. From the Alfred Watkins collection
(courtesy of Hereford City Library)


A donkey cart in Fownhope in 1902


The vicarage barn next to Fownhope churchyard in 1938. This had been used for several purposes other than holding grain. On January 7th 1854 the Hereford Times reported that 'Poor to the number of 170 were presented with a small sum of money each on St Thomas’s day at the barn of the reverend vicar.

This was not the tithe barn. The tithe barn stood to the south of the church and was demolished in the 19th century in order to extend the churchyard.

(photograph courtesy of Hereford City Library)


The old stocks outside the churchyard


The main street looking north-west


Houses on the corner of Common Hill Lane, opposite the church


The Green Man Inn



This pantile was recently found by David Clarke of Fownhope Local History Group near the ruins of Jim Bruin's cottage, a former limeworker's dwelling on Common Hill, Fownhope. The stamp depicts the Emperor Napoleon III of France. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was the son of Louis Bonaparte, a younger brother of Napoleon I. He became president of the Second Republic, and later took the title Napoleon III on becoming emperor of the Second Empire. There was never a Napoleon II. 

Quite why Napoleon III should appear on a Herefordshire roof tile is a mystery, although historically he is credited with rebuilding the Tuileries Gardens in  Paris after they were destroyed in the 1848 riots. This was the tile making quarter of Paris, so perhaps he was a hero of  the tile  manufacturing industry. If anyone can tell us please get in touch.

Tuesday 25th July

A Walk around Fownhope and Common  Hill  

A walk around Fownhope led by Rev. David Clarke of the Fownhope Local History Group




The Fownhope Local History Group has recently received a Heritage Lottery Initiative grant to carry out an oral history project.

Fownhope GENUKI pages

Visit Fownhope village website at www.fownhope.org.uk which has a history of the village

Archaeological records from Fownhope are held on Historic Herefordshire On Line


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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.