Bosbury in The Church Intelligencer, 1844
‘The Church Intelligencer’ was a weekly magazine, first published
in London in 1841. In this issue, page 2 is numbered 554 and this article is printed
on pages 12-13, numbered 564-565. With a new layout, it was republished in April 1884
as a monthly magazine.
We have great pleasure in fulfilling the promise which we made to our readers last
week of supplying a report of the proceedings connected with the “holiday”
and fete at this interesting old village on the 23rd. Before we do a few brief notices
on the date and architectural pretensions of the church and its massive tower may
not be unacceptable. The sacred edifice is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and
from the earliest times the inhabitants of Bosbury have been accustomed to
attend the church services on Trinity Sunday in great numbers, and to reserve
the week following for a general merrymaking; thus avoiding the too frequent
desecrations consequent upon Sunday-wakes, and the excesses which have so often
been visited with the severe but merited reprehension of learned judges on this
circuit. This ancient village has still many curious relics of gone ages
remaining amongst its “auld stanes” indeed the most unimaginative traveller
will be agreeably surprised at the lengthened vista of antique gables and
grotesque frontage which meets his eye on crossing the bridge at the entrance
of the village.
“The antique buildings, climbing high,
Whose gothic frontlets seek the sky,
Were here wrapt deep in shade;
There on their brows the moon-beam broke
Through the faint wreaths of silvery smoke
And on the casements played.”
Some of the ancient folk are not a little proud of the “former glories” of
the place and quote (with perhaps a pardonable complacency) the old distich –
“Bosburie was a towne ere Hereforde was a citie.” The vestiges of olden
times which are to be found in every part of the parish, seem in a great measure to
justify the pretensions of the inhabitants. In the old farm house (called the
“Old Court”) and buildings, closely contiguous to the church-yard, are
to be seen remains of the Palace of former Bishops of Hereford; the principal entrance
and wicket-postern to the palace-yard are still remaining and the prison also in which,
in the palmy days of Romish prelacy, offenders against the provisions of Leet-courts
and Church-laws were incarcerated. A curious specimen of the embossed ceiling
is still extant in the older part of the dwelling-house.
On the extreme south side of the village an ancient building with a very handsome
apartment 25 feet square, panelled to the ceiling with old oak of a very rich grain,
whilst the ceiling is supported with rafters of the same, the points at which
they intersect each other being ornamented with bosses, containing the arms of
Bishop Skipp (1552), of the house of Scrope and of William Paulet, Marquis of
Winchester, Marquis of Knight of the Garter in the 35th year of Henry VIII. On
the fourth boss the arms have been obliterated – it should seem designedly, since
the corresponding shield over the mantel-piece has been defaced in a similar manner,
whilst the other three shields remain uninjured, and correspond with their
respective bosses as above mentioned. These arms are also emblazoned on two
very fine monuments in the chancel, to the memory of the Harfords, connected
with the ancient family of the Brydges, of this county, now represented by the
respected owner of Tibberton Court. A mural tablet to Michael Hopton, of Canon
Froome Court (who died in 1601), and who married Martha Harford; together with
a portrait of a Marquis of Winchester, now to be seen at Canon Froome (probably
of the same Marquis whose heraldic-shield has been already noticed), supply us
with data by which to trace the intermarriages of these three families in the
On the road to Worcester, one mile and a half from the village, a small farm still
retains the name of “the palace;” whilst another, situated one mile
to the east of the church, is called the Town-end. In the Harleian MSS in the
British Museum, several notices appear, all tending to confirm our impression
of the importance of this place as connected with the ancient ecclesiastical
endowments of these realms, viz., “We reade it before the Norman Conquest
to appertaine to the Bishops of Hereford, and to be their retired residence;
and in that hierarchy to have continued till this Parliament in 1643 voted them
down.” “The admirable ditch which Gilbert de Clare drew to divide his lands
from the church of Worcester. which is now the mere of the two counties” still
continues to be so, and the manor of the Bishop of Hereford still extends from Bosburie,
over Coddington and Colwall, to the Malvern Hills. Another MSS speaking of
Bosbury, informs us, that “the tenants of this manor were toll-free.” “After
the Conquest it gave name to a family of worship (as most places of note did),
of whom we find it thus written in the booke of obijts – obitus Rogeri de Bosburie.”
“In this part of the parish is a farm called the Barlands, which is a
tenure of land held by the service of carrying or bearing to the Lord,
or his steward, their provision in their remove from place to place; such
tenant being thus called Bermannus.” Our agricultural friends will
recognize here the origin of their famed barland perry; the farm once so
famous is gone, but the lands (absorbed in the neighbouring estates) still
retain their title of “barlands.” Another MSS carries us back to a
period still more remote, viz., “Of Bossa vid Monasticon Anglicanum,
p.167, floruit A.D. 833,and was witnesse to the Charter of Confirmation of Witlaff,
King of the Mercians, to the Abbey of Croyland; and thus it is written:- “Ego Bossae,
Scriba Regis, Withlafii, manu mea chirographum istud scripsi.” In the muniments
of Stanford Court, in Worcestershire, may be seen “a roll of the expenses of
the household of the Venerable Father in God, Richard, Bishop of Hereford, made
by the hand of John de Kemes, hys Chaplain, from Friday after the feast of St.
Michael, 1289, to the same feast in 1290.” “On the 17th of December he left Bosburie
for Ledbury, where he staied three days, during which time he had hys wine
and provisions from Bosburie.”
is further celebrated as being a former station of the Knights Templars; a
distinction which it shares with only one other parish in this country. Temple
Court is still one of the chief houses in the place, and the old moat round
the homestead and garden is yet perfect. Many of the more aged people recollect
a rude pile of moss-grown stones, the last reliques of the Chauntry, erected by
those stalwart and Militant Ecclesiatics.
“Scilicet et tempus veniet, cum finibus illis
Agricola incurvo terram molitus aratro
Exesa inveniet scabra rubigine pila;
Aut gravibus rastris galeas pulsabit inanes,
Gradisque effosis mirabitur ossa sepulchris.”
But we must put some check upon our antiquarian predilections, and recall our numerous
readers to the “modern Instances” of the 23rd; reminding, however our
clerical friends, that we have authority for the correctness of our quotations, and
assuring them that we shall always be happy to enrich our archaeologia with any
contributions which they may be pleased to send (duly authenticated), relating
to the ecclesiastical and castellated remains for which our border county is so
famous. A very propitious day dawned upon the parishioners of Bosbury on the 23rd;
the ”hour of prime” was the time fixed upon
“To let the merry bells ring round,”
and to summon them to the interesting business of the day for which the most efficient
preparations had been made by the authorities of the parish. The approach to
the village from the Worcester-road presented a very pleasing and animated scene.
On the left side, in front of the principal inn, “mine host” (a true follower
of Lord John Manners) had erected a gay may-pole, quite of the olden time, handsomely
decorated and festooned; on the right the old gable of the school-house (erected
by Sir Rowland Morton in the reign of Henry VII.) was hung with draperies with
suitable mottoes on them. From the church tower, which has every appearance of
extreme antiquity, and suggests the idea of a massive fortalice of a very rude age,
floated the meteor flag of England, with smaller pennons on the east and west
turrets; whilst the litchett and southern porch of the church were surmounted
by branches of British oak interlaced with festoons of flowers. We were much interested
by the successful way in which the characteristic and dilapidated relics of
this ancient church had been restored. The litchett seemed to be in substantial
repair; the fine cross which intercepted in former times the entrance to the
church had been re-set upon a rough pedestal (of stone, instead of the crazy-brick
foundation which once encumbered it), without any displacement of the mosses
and lichens adhering to it. Within the sacred edifice an ancient Letturne (or
Lecturne) occupied the centre Nave of the Church, such as may still be seen in
some of our cathedrals and colleges. The font, coeval with the Church, had been
judiciously restored, fresh pillars supplied, and the whole raised on a broad
pedestal at the west-end in front of the organ loft. Our antiquarian readers must
forthwith commence a pilgrimage to see this fine specimen of design of the 11th
century. In removing the font from its former faulty position, the workmen
discovered (two feet below the surface) another font of the rudest description,
turned upside-down to form a base to the one now in use. We have no suggestion
to offer upon the date of this time-honoured monument except its massiveness
and simplicity favour the idea that it was the original font used in the church
erected here in the eighth or ninth century; or perhaps we might assign it a
still earlier period. The entire west end of the church, in which forty years
ago a vestry-closet, small gallery and receptacle for coal were intruded, has
been reopened; four beautiful lanceolet windows, which had been closed by
chimney-flues or doors, have been replaced; the fine columns and arches which
support the nave and aisles have been thoroughly cleansed from the incrustation
of lime and ochre which disfigured them; the oak compartments freed from filth
and dirt, and the beautiful grain of the wood brought out into due prominence.
The old unenclosed sittings of solid dark oak (with mural tops cleansed and varnished),
harmonize beautifully with the stone columns, whose solidity is however
softened by the rich natural tint of the stone of which they are constructed.
The west [east?] end of the church is now occupied by a handsome gothic elevation, the
front screen of which is worked into five compartments or stalls for the
singers; above these a beautiful organ (by Bates) has been erected. The effect
produced by these various renovations is very striking, and reminds the visitor
of the rich and solemn beauties of our cathedrals and abbey churches. At half-past
ten the village began to be thronged with carriages and vehicles of every description,
conveying neighbours and friends from Ledbury and the adjacent parishes. At
eleven o’clock a procession was formed at the Vicarage; the architect, Mr.
Jukes, preceded the churchwardens and a portion of the Committee, who were
followed by the Rev. the Dean of St. Asaph, and the Rev. J. Hopton (who officiated
at the altar), the Rev. Vicar of the parish, and Rev. W. Dyke (who occupied the
reading-desk and lecturn), and the Rev. J. Sill, and Rev. W. Evans, of Barton
Court (Prebendary of our Cathedral), who assisted at the collection during the Offertory.
The latter gentleman preached a suitable discourse on the occasion, and
reminded his numerous and attentive auditors of the necessity of making the
Church what it assumed to be, “the poor man’s Church.” The Rev. gentleman drew
an eloquent and touching picture of the wants and privations of the “labouring
poor;” he paid a just and affecting tribute to their endurance resignation, and
mutual attachment; and taking up his parable from a consideration of the “Unity
which is betwixt Christ and his Church,” made references full of truth and
pathos to the bonds of Union which adorn the peasant’s home. He concluded his
eloquent address by an appeal to the Christian sympathies of the congregation and
admonished them to mitigate as far as in them lay the inequalities of their condition
by supplying the poor with Church accommodation in no way inferior to that
enjoyed by the privileged classes of the community. At the Offertory nearly £65
were collected in aid of the funds to meet the costs of the alterations in the Church.
Mr. Woodward, organist of Ledbury, presided at the new organ and elicited the
full tone and sweetness of the instrument in “The Heavens are Telling” and “The
Hallelujah Chorus.” The singing was solemn and effective; the old 100th.sung by
the full choir pealed grandly through the arches of the venerable pile. We cannot
too much commend the “decency and order” which marked the routine of the Church
services, and the becoming attention to minutiae which (though to higher aims
are not to be neglected without manifest disadvantage. The committee, consisting
of the most influential gentlemen in the parish, distinguished by their white rosettes,
the churchwardens with their wands of office, and the parochial constabulary
with their apple-green favours and staves, all helped to give a certain
decorous animation to the scene. The collection was received by T. Spencer,
Esq., banker, of Ledbury, the parish treasurer, to be carried to the account of
At two o’clock the Vicar and Mrs. Hanmer Underwood entertained eighty of the leading
gentry and Clergy of the neighbourhood and their families at a cold collation, in the
school-room, which was tastefully decorated with evergreens and flowers. Over the
side-board in the centre of the room the cipher ‘V’, composed of white roses upon
a dark ground, and surrounded by a wreath of choice exotics had a very pleasing appearance.
A fine brass band from Malvern alternating at intervals with the merry bells of
the old tower and a set of handbells (played through the street), prolonged the
cheerful influences which had marked the day from its first outset. Old English
hospitality was not forgotten; large parties were entertained at the chief houses
in the parish and in the smaller a ready welcome greeted the passing stranger. We
cannot hope to supply an accurate list of the numerous company who attended on
this interesting occasion: our readers who can estimate the difficulty of
making a correct return of so many persons of whom a large portion were
strangers to us, will pardon any unavoidable omissions or mistakes which may have
crept into our report. We subjoin a list of those were present, as far as we
were able to learn them. The Very Reverend the Dean of St Asaph, Revs.
Prebendaries, J. Hopton, Johnson, W. Evans; Rev, Canon Morgan, Residentiary of Hereford,
Rev. W. Dyke, Rev. J. sill, Rev. W. Hopton, Rev. J. Jones, Rev. C. Munn, Rev.
W. Lyall, Rev, F. Custance, Rev. T. Dean, Rev. T. Taylor, Rev. John Graves,
Rev. H. Dowding, Rev. T. Dowell, Rev. G. Watts, Rev. C. Davison, Rev. W.
Pulling, Rev. H. Barry Domvile, Rev. W. Domvile, Rev. C. Domvile, Rev.
Beresford Lowther, Rev. Chas. Hill, &c. &c. Lady Scudamore Stanhope, Mr.
and Mrs. Webb, Mr. and Mrs. Heywood, Misses Heywood, Mr. and Mrs. R. Biddulph Phillipps,
Mrs. Haggitt, Miss Parry, Misses Bright, Miss Parker, Misses Domvile, Dr.
Henry, Mr. Spencer, Miss More, Mr. R. Underwood, Misses Underwood, Mr. H.
Peyton, Misses Morgan, Mr. S. Stratford, Mrs. Lee Warner, Mr H. Lee Warner, Mrs.
Evans, Burton Court, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Higgins, Mr.. Mrs. and Miss Mutlow, Mr.
and Miss Shayle, Upleadon Court. Mr. and Mrs W. Pitt, Mr. Hollings, Messrs.
Edy, Mr. T. Brown and family, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Graves, Miss Poole, Mrs.
Hanmer Underwood, Mr. E. F. Stanhope, Mr. W. Stanhope, Mr. Godsall and party, Mr.
T. Godsall, Temple Court, Mr. Inet and family Old Court, Mr. Ricketts, Mr. and
Mrs. Mayos, Mr. T. Sparksman, Mr. and Mrs. W. Berry, Mr. Acton, Mr. Pitt, Mr.
Gardiner, Mr. and Mrs. Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Welland, Mrs. Deane and family, Mr.
and Mrs. Brydges, Mrs. Cox and family, Mrs.. Pitt, Mr. More, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs S.
Gregg, Mr. R. Homes, Mr. Mason, Misses Mason, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bibbs, Mr.
Woodyatt, Mr. Smith &c. &c. A large concourse of strangers, whose names
we could not obtain, thronged the church and churchyard during the time of
Divine Service. We cannot conclude our report of this auspicious gathering
without adverting to the recommendations of the Very Rev. the Rural Dean, who, in
proposing health and prosperity to the Vicar and his amiable Lady, recommended
their example in beginning so good a work to the imitation of the
neighbouring Clergy. Mr. Underwood in acknowledging the compliment paid him in
warm and grateful terms expressed the sense he entertained of the kindness of his
numerous friends. The Rev. Gentleman availed himself of the occasion to thank all
classes of his parishioners for the kind and flattering assistance which he had
received from them, and testified to the unanimity which marked all their
efforts in improving and ameliorating the condition of their poorer neighbours.
This is as it should be; we congratulate our friends at Bosbury and the parish
authorities on their prosperous beginning, and see much in so auspicious
a commencement to make us sanguine in our expectation that more will follow.
Much undoubtedly has been done, but we miss the “heaven directed spire” of our
early boyhood, and lament the imperfect condition of the fine old chancel,
whilst the fair fabric of the church itself lacks one crowning ornament —
We love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
In a parish spirited and improving (and in an age so favourable for
church-renovation ), we feel confident that the “embowed roof” will soon
be supplied; the liberality of the parishioners and their friends will as certainly
provide the ways and means. We conclude our lengthened notice with a hope that we shall
shortly be enabled to submit to our readers some further account of the reliquiae
sacrae of Bosbury. - Correspondent of The Hereford Journal
Note: The five lines in Latin are a quotation from
Virgil, the first book of The Georgics. This translation is by J. W. MacKail
“Surely a time too shall come when in those borders
the husbandman, as his crooked plough labours the soil,
will find spears eaten away with scaling rust,
or strike on empty helms with his heavy mattock,
and marvel at mighty bones dug up from their tombs.”
Source: Online facsimile: NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Transcription: B.S.Sharples 2012
The original article appeared in both the Hereford Journal of Wednesday, 29th May,
1844 and the Hereford Times of Saturday, 1st June, 1844.