Bosbury in Shoesmith, 2009

Ron Shoesmith is a former director of the City of Hereford Archaeology Unit and a long-time member of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club. He is a prolific author - his books include a biography of Alfred Watkins, ‘Hereford: History And Guide’ and ‘Ludlow Castle; Its History & Buildings’ as well as collaborating in many more. He wrote Castles and Moated Sites of Herefordshire in 1996 following on from his successful ‘Prehistoric Sites of Herefordshire’ in the ’Monuments in the Landscape’ series. This is an extract from the revised edition of 2009.


Cold Green (SO 685 427)
A field described as Moat Orchard on the 1840 Tithe Award.
(SMR 18323)

Old Court Farm possible moated site (SO 695 436)
Late thirteenth/early fourteenth-century gatehouse and parts of the walls of the Bishop’s Palace.
Location: On the roadside to the east of the church.
Access: Can be viewed from the road.

Old Court Farm at Bosbury, 6km north of Ledbury, one-time palace of the Bishop of Hereford, may well have been moated. There are traditions of a ‘fayre palace’ belonging to the bishop in the time of Offa in the eighth century. It was here that Bishop Athelstan died and the Domesday Survey records a prosperous well-established settlement with six hides paying tax, two ploughs in lordship, 17 villagers, 16 smallholders, two slaves, a priest (with one hide and one plough), a mill and a ‘buru’ with 22 ploughs. Before 1066, then, and in 1086, it was worth £6. This was one of the more popular of the country ‘palaces’ with many of the bishops, and Bishop Swinfield died there in 1316. There was extensive rebuilding in 1572 when John Harford, the steward of the manor, undertook ‘to newe build another house upon the same ground’, but the work was later considered to be poor and little more than extensions to ‘an old tenement standing in that place before.’ Although it was restored to the bishop after the Civil War, having been bought by Silas Taylor for £778 10s. 6d., it became a tenanted farmhouse and no bishop has resided there since.

A stream, a tributary of the River Leadon, which bounded the enclosure on the north and west, appears to have been straightened at some time. The late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century gatehouse faces the road on the eastern side of the site. lt is a composite of stone and timber-framing that has been considerably altered during the years. ln the centre, flanked by flat buttresses, are the main gateway and immediately to its south, the now-blocked wicket gate. It was probably built free-standing with a timber palisade guarding the palace grounds. Defences of this nature are often associated with water- filled defences such as probably existed here. The farmhouse incorporates some fifteenth-century work and the palace once included extensive cellarage and may have been the main wine store for the bishop.
(RCHM, 2, 19-20; Herefordshire Countryside Treasures, 38; Herefordshire Archaeology Series, 231; Herefordshire Archaeological News, 61, 35-40; T. Woolhope Naturalists F.C. 1971,286, SMR 303)

Stoneyard Green (SO 713 440)
The 1840 Tithe Award shows the house and garden with a moat on three sides. (SMR 18308)

Temple Court moated house (SO 691 433)
Temple Court Farm; some 0.5km south-west of Bosbury Church was originally a preceptory of the Knights Templar, but when the Order was dissolved in 1312 it was given to the Knights Hospitallers. The present building is mainly of eighteenth-century date although the north range may be of medieval origin. The moat formerly surrounded the house and there are traces of other outer enclosures.
(Robinson Man., 33; VCH, 249; RCHM, 2, 19; Herefordshire Countryside Treasures, 38; Herefordshire Archaeological News, 61,38; SMR 304)

Upleadon Court moated site (SO 668 419)
There are slight traces of a moat in an orchard some 0.3km south-east of Upleadon Court, 4km west-south-west of Bosbury. The 1840 Tithe Award describes the field as Burnt House Orchard.
(RCHM, 2, 19; Salter’s The Castles of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, 52; SMR 1618)

go to previous page go to front page