Bosbury in Robinson, 1872

Rev. Charles John Robinson M.A. was domestic chaplain to the Earl of Caithness and the vicar of Norton Canon in Herefordshire from 1865 to 1877. He wrote A History of the Mansions of Herefordshire in 1872 following on from his successful “A History of the Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords.&rdquo:

THERE is good reason to believe that this manor is among the oldest possessions of the Bishopric of Hereford, and that the successive occupants of the See “held their State here and dwelt in a fayre palace in the time of King Offa.” (Harl. MS. 6726.) ln later days their connection with the place was more marked. Bishop Athelstane, who re-built the Cathedral, died at his palace in Bosbury in 1056; two centuries later it was the favourite residence of Bishop Cantilupe, and from Bishop Winfield’s Roll (A.D. 1290) we learn that it was often occupied by that active prelate, whose father lies buried within the church,* and who. himself died there in 1316. The manor still remains attached to the See and is held in trust for it by the Ecclesiastical Cornmissioners.§ The ruins of the Bishop’s Palace are near the north side of the church, and comprise a gateway, curtain, and dove-cote, which seem to have been erected in the reign of Edward l., and were, perhaps, the work of Bishop Cantilupe. Besides these there are some domestic portions consisting of two stages: the upper one has a blocked lancet window — the only sign of early work — with floors and ceilings of late perpendicular. (Parker’s Domestic Architecture, iii, 377.) The refectory, with a groined roof, is now used as a cider cellar. The present Vicar—Rev.E.Cheese—who has devoted a good deal of attention to the subject, attributes the earlier portions of the palace to William de Vere, who occupied the See of Hereford from 1186 to 1199. The palace was dismantled in 1643.

* The monumental stone was brought to light in 1776, and bears the following inscription: “Hic jacet Stephanus quondam Pater Venerabilis patris Domini Ricardi de Swinford Dei gratia Episcopi Herefordiæ, A.D. 1282.”

§ It was sold in 1649 to Sylvanus Taylor for £728 10s. 6d., but reverted at the Restoration.

Next in antiquity is the Preceptory of the Templars (now Temple Court, a substantial farm, owned and occupied by John Pitt) which probably dates from the middle of the thirteenth century. Bishop Cantilupe was Provincial Master of the Order, and it is not improbable that through his influence the preceptory was founded at Bosbury. The Order was dissolved in 1312, and its estates were given to the Knights Hospitalars of St. John of Jerusalem in 1323, and attached to the Commandry of Dinmore. Thus they continued until the reign of Henry VIII., when, by letters patent, dated 15th March, 1544, the manor was granted to Hugh Appare who, two years afterwards, sold it to John Scudamore. From the Scudamores it was purchased in 1635 by Sir Robert Pye of Farringdon, and descended ultimately to the daughters of Charles Rowe by Sarah Turton, grand-daughter of Richard Pye, 2nd son of Sir Robert. Sarah Rowe, the survivor, left her estate to her kinsman, Henry Alington of Swinhope, co. Lincoln. By him it was sold to the present proprietor. Within the manor of Upleadon, a branch of the great Brydges family was seated in the middle of the fourteenth century, (see Tiberton,) and, at a later date, the Harfords, enriched by fortunate dealings with Church property, established themselves there. John Harford of Worcester, the first settler, married Anne, dau. of Sir John Scrope of Castlecombe, and died 30th August, 1559, aged 57. His eldest son, Richard Harford, married Martha, dau. of Charles Fox of Brimfield, co. Salop, and died without issue in 1578.† From a younger son descend the Harfords of Blaise Castle, near Bristol, and, in the female line, Sir Harford Jones Brydges of Boultibrook, Bart. The latter traces his descent through Henry’s son—Dr. Bridstock Harford—an eminent physician, whose son of the same name was M.P. for Hereford in 1660. The latter was thrice married; and on the death of his son, Bridstock, in 1713, his daughter, Mary Jones, became his sole heir. (See Dannett Pedigree.) The monuments of the Harford family are prominent features in Bosbury Church and are good examples of their period, but far more interesting is the old house, now the Crown inn, wherein is a fine cinque-cento panelled chamber richly decorated with coats of arms. Over the fireplace are the arms of the families of Wrottesley, Scrope, Fox, Stoke, and Steventon; and above arms the initials “R. H.” and “M. H.,” with the date 1571, indicating the period when the room was built and that Richard Harford and Martha (Fox) erected it. The ceiling was ornamented at the junction of the beams with carved bosses, three of which—bearing the arms of Bishop Skipp, Scrope, and Paulet—still remain, and the fourth, which is missing, probably contained the coat of Harford—Sable, two bends argent, on a canton azure, a bend or.

† His portrait is at Boultibrook, and, as the inscription testifies, was taken in 1567 when he was 41 years old. The coat of arms impales that of Fox, and thus the pedigrees are incorrect in assigning to this Richard Harford as a wife, Catharine, dau. of Richard Purefoy, who died in 1570. Possibly she was the wife of Richard Harford, who was Preb. of Hereford in 1545. The Harfords possessed very extensive property, but it was chiefly leasehold. The New Court, their last possession, was sold by Mrs. Elizabeth Harford to Fras. Brydges, of Tiberton, in 1691. In the P.R.O. is a curious document relating to an enquiry held at Bromyard 24th Nov. 9 Eliz., concerning the advowson of the Rectory of Little Cowarne (late of St. Peter’s, Gloucester). concealed from the Queen by Richard Harford of Bosbury, co. Hd., gent, and John Harford, his father.

THE GRANGE was the residence, in the reign of Henry VII., of Sir Rowland Morton, a benefactor of the parish and the builder of a beautiful Chantry on the south side of the church. He was a younger brother of the celebrated Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England, and appears to have been brought into connection with Herefordshire by his marriage with Elizabeth, sole heir of Walter Pembrugge. (See Evesbatch.) He founded the Grammar School of the parish, endowing it with property which seems, together with the Grange, to have belonged at one time to the Templars. Queen Elizabeth re-endowed the school with the lands of the dissolved Chantry of St Mary, in Bosbury, and a charge on the manor of Wormbridge. (See Exch. Dec., 5 Jac. i. fo. 72.)

Among other families which have been lessees of the manor must be particularised the Dannetts, whose pedigree is annexed. Gerard Dannett (whose portrait is at the Moor, Clifford), was Privy Councillor to King Henry VIII., and Captain Dannett commanded at Stoke Castle in 1645.

BOSBURY HOUSE, a red-brick mansion with stone dressings and portico, is the property of the Rev. Edward Higgins, having been purchased about the year 1828 from the representatives of the late John Stedman (High Sheriff 1799) and re-built by the present proprietor. The library contains some valuable books and MSS., and among the latter a tract in the handwriting of Sir Thomas Overbury, and some poems by Lady Elizabeth Cope. Mr. Higgins’s chief property is in Bosbury, but his family was established for several centuries at Eastnor (which see).

CATLEY is a township which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries belonged to the Beringtons of Bishopston. It was held of the manor of Upleadon.

Postscript: Rev. Robinson wrote this letter to Charles Darwin around 1866.

My dear Mr Darwin,
I cannot resist the pleasure of telling you how gratified I have been to hear of your restoration to health. Your name was mentioned the other night at dinner at the Deanery [Hereford] & my neighbour Mr. Herbert—(our County Court Judge)—in answer to my enquiries, gave me the very welcome news. I pay him a visit next week in order to meet your old friend Charles Whitley. In the few years that have passed since I last had the pleasure of seeing you I have had to endure many sorrows. The loss of my wife in her first confinement & —almost simultaneously— the death of my father & mother—have left me very solitary. If I am not wholly forgotten, allow me to offer my kind regards to Mrs. & Miss Darwin as well as to yourself— for whom I trust there are many years of health & fame in store.
Yours very sincerely,
  Charles J Robinson
I have a small living (Norton Canon) in this county, where I am building a Vicarage house—restoring Church & School & otherwise following the ordinary imprudent course wh. my brethren adopt.

Courtesy of the Darwin Correspondence Project

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