"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Herefordshire - Part 1: "Black and White Villages" (Pembridge, Eardisland and Weobley)

Last September I wrote a couple of posts about the visit D and I made to some of the villages on the Herefordshire "Black and White" Village Trail. We enjoyed ourselves so much that ever since we have been trying to persuade B and E to return with us for a short break in the area. The Isle of Wight Holiday at the beginning of July seems an awful long time ago now so, as D and E were on holiday last week, we arranged to stop in the village of Weobley for a couple of nights.

Thursday, 24th September

We visited Pembridge first this time. It was a busy market town in Medieval times and most of the houses date from the 15th and 16th Centuries.

The Market Hall has been dendro-dated to 1503-1538. It reminded me very much of the Market Square described in Ledwardine the village where vicar Merrily Watkins lives in the Phil Rickman novels!

Ledwardine, according to Rickman is the missing location in the Black and White Trail and the village contains an amalgamation of features from the villages of Pembridge, Dilwyn, Weobley and Eardisland. A drama based on the book "Midwinter of the Spirit" has just started on ITV and much of the filming was done in this area.

The church of St Mary the Virgin with its detached 13th Century Bell Tower.

I didn't have chance to go in the church this time.



The River Arrow

After lunch we drove on to the picturesque village of Eardisland which is only a few miles from Pembridge.

B, D and E went a walk around the village and along the river (I missed a Kingfisher sighting :( ) while I went and had a look round the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin which I hadn't had time to visit last time.

A place of worship has probably existed on this site since Saxon times and the present church building dates back to the late 12th or early 13th century (the nave) and chancel, vestry and south porch were built in the 14th century. The 15th century Tower collapsed in 1728 and the present one was constructed in 1760.

There was a major restoration of the church in 1864 by London Architect Henry Curzon which cost £2000.

The Memorial font to the Brewster family of Burton Court was installed in 1850.

The Nave roof dates from the 1864 restoration and retains just one 16th century tie beam.

The pulpit is in memory of the Reverend Joseph Baker, Vicar between 1867 and 1902.

Parts of the churchyard looked wildlife friendly with wildflower areas. In Spring 2005 a herb garden was created in the South West corner of the churchyard where a mixture of plants mentioned in the Bible or historically associated with churches were planted e.g. Aaron's Rod, Angelica, Fennel, Lady's Bedstraw, Jacob's Ladder, St John's Wort, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Vervain. (All brilliant for attracting bees and other insects). 700 daffodil, crocus and snowdrop bulbs were planted in 2004/2005.

Back in the village itself, the Dovecote dates back to late 17th or early 18th century. It fell out of use by the early 19th century and gradually became derelict. It was renovated in 1999 and now contains a community shop and exhibition run by volunteers.

We drove through Dilwyn on our way to Weobley but didn't stop which is a shame as the church looks very interesting and I didn't visit it last time. In fact, I recently discovered that a cousin of my father's lived until recently in Dilwyn and her daughter farms nearby. I think I mentioned in my posts last year that my paternal grandparents came from Herefordshire and I visited the area often as a child.

In this photo by D taken from the car you can make out the delightful village of Weobley in the distance.





Weobley is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in Medieval times was a flourishing market town with most of its wealth coming from wool. Many houses date from the middle of the 15th century and are timber framed houses. King Charles I slept in a house in the village called The Throne on the night of 5th September 1645, the day after his army freed Hereford from occupation by Cromwell's troops.

There is a very interesting Weobley Village History Trail you can follow which D and I did last time. I covered a lot of the history of the village and its buildings in my post last September so I haven't gone into so much detail this time! But if anyone wants more information or to see visits made last year to Pembridge and Weobley churches and the village of Dilwyn the posts can be found under Archives on the right (September 2014). Sorry, I would put in links but I still can't get them to work!

Even the Village Pumping Station in the car park is in the timber framed style :)

14th century Manor House (I think this is for sale at the moment!).

I spotted this garage in the ITV Merrily episode last week!

The Red Lion is 14th century and was once a public house (now a restaurant).

The Gables is one of the largest 15th century houses in Weobley - we had lunch here last year and this year stayed in the Guest House for 2 nights. For the first time I slept in a four poster bed - wish I had taken a photo of the room now!

The Magpie is a modern symbol of Herefordshire's black and white villages. The sculpture is the work of a contemporary artist, Walenty Pytel, who lives in the County and is renowned for his metal sculptures of birds and beasts.

We had two great evening meals at Ye Olde Salutation Inn (highlight was a brandysnap basket stuffed full of icecream and fresh fruit). The pub is probably 15th century with later additions.

The church is very interesting and I could kick myself now for not finding the time to visit it again.

We had all split up to explore the village and arranged to meet in the Village Museum. D and I had a good look round the exhibits but there was no sign of B and E. Apparently they had been passing a bungalow and heard cries for help. They found a very elderly lady collapsed in the garden - the wheelbarrow she had been using had tipped over and caused her to fall. She was in quite a bit of pain so B called an ambulance and, after fetching a blanket from a neighbour, stayed with her until the emergency services arrived. We had an update from her neighbour who spotted us as we were leaving on Saturday. Sadly, she had broken her hip and had to have 5 hour surgery. I do hope she makes a speedy recovery and can return home soon.

Photos marked *D taken by D with the Canon Bridge Camera

References : Weobley Jubilee Heritage Trail Leaflet
"Merrily's Border" by Phil Rickman and John Mason
Information Board and leaflet - St Mary the Virgin Church