Bosbury in Watkins, 1902

Rev. Morgan George Watkins M.A., rector of Kentchurch, published his Collections Towards The History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford: Hundred of Radlow in 1902 as a continuation of John Duncumb’s ‘Collections Towards The History of the County of Hereford’ printed nearly 100 years earlier. Watkins was president of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club in 1895 and later served on the Editorial Committee.



In Saxon, Bosbury was called Bosanberigh, in Domesday, Boseberge. It consists of 4,769 acres, and is bounded on the N. by the Parishes of Cradley and Castle Frome; on the E. by Coddington; on the S. by Ledbury; and on the W. by Munsley. It was in the old Hundred of Wimundestrev, and formerly a place of much consequence.
Bosbury is divided into two parts by the river Ledden which enters it from Evesbatch on the N., and turning two mills passes into Ledbury on the S. The W. side, Cattley Manor containing 800 acres is also divided by the Cattley Brook rising in the N.W. extremity of this Parish and joining the Ledden near the centre. Bosbury thus intersecting forms three Divisions; That to the E. called Bosbury Division; that to the S.W., Upleddon Division, and that to the N.W. Cattley Division. There were before the Norman Conquest two Manors in this Parish; the first that of Bosbury, Colwall, and Coddington, of which the Bishop was Lord;* the second, that of Upleadon, including the little township of Cattley. The latter became the property of the Knights Templars: the Lord of the Manor of that date, whose name is unknown, having joined that Fraternity.
* [The Bishops “quot;held their state and dwelt in a fayre palace in the time of King Offa” (Harl. MS. 6726). The Palace was a favourite residence of Bps. Cantilupe and Swinfield.

The soil of Bosbury is in general a reddish clay well adapted to fruit cultivation, hops, wheat, and beans. There is much good meadow land on the banks of the Ledden with much coppice, elm, oak, and ash timber. The Chace of Ledbury was included in the Lordship of Bosbury. None of the Chace though was situated in this Parish.

Bosbury is supposed to derive its name from one Bosa who was owner of land in it in the early part of the ninth century. Nothing is known of him save that he was the Lord Chancellor of Witlaf, King of Mercia. In this capacity he witnessed a Charter which the King granted to the Abbey of Crowland in Lincolnshire in the year 833, writing “+Ego Bosa Scriba Regis Withlafu manu mea chirographum istud scripsi.” “After ye Norman Conquest it gave name to a family of worship (as most places did) of one of whom we find it thus written in a booke of Obits belonging to ye Church of Hereford.” “Obitus Rogeri de Bosbury qui legavit Majori Altari dcte ecclie.”
[See for this Parish History and Description of the Parish of Bosbury By Rev. S. Bentley, MA. (Masters & Co. 1891); an exhaustive and valuable work. See too Harleian MSS., No. 6726.]

Little is said of Bosbury in Domesday. “In Boseberge sunt sex hidae geldantes. In dominio duae carucatae et xvii. villani et xvi. bordarii et unum burum cum xxii. carucatis. Ibi 2 servi et molendinum de xxx. denariis et 8 acres prati et silva nihil reddens.”
“Presbyter tenet unam hidam et habet unam carucatam. T.R.E. et post et modo valuit £6." In the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, A.D. 1288, Bosbury appears as Bosebur and Bosminbur. In Henry the Eighth’s reign the name had settled down to what it is at present.

The Bishop’s Palace stood on ground which is now an orchard belonging to the Old Court Farm, and is situated W. of the garden, where many ruins and foundation stones have been found. At the Synod, however, held A.D. 1075, it was forbidden that Bishops’ Seats should be in small towns and Bosbury felt the effects of this prohibition. It had also been endowed with many privileges as a Market, which have since been transferred to Ledbury. Several of the tenants held land per militiam and all were exempt from tolls. Bishop Athelstan died in the Palace in 1012. A gateway of imposing appearance led to it, an unusually lofty pointed arch reaching the whole present height of the building, with a smaller one. The two stand between two large flat buttresses. The arch in the inner side is of wood." (J. H. Parker, Domestic Architecture of the Middle Ages.) In the courtyard between the house and the gateway a dovecot, supposed to have been placed on that spot by Bishop Cantilupe in the time of Edward I., has been removed in the last thirty years. The court and halls were destroyed during the episcopate of Bp. Scory in 1572. In 1586 Bp. Westfaling complained that the house was short for a Bishop. A century afterwards during the Civil War it was sold to Silas Taylor for £728 10s. 6d. In 1848 it passed, as did other Episcopal and Capitular estates, into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who now possess the Manor.
The Household Roll of Bp. Swinfield (Camden Socy.) shews the Prelate on Oct. 21, 1289, travelling on progress to Bosbury, where a large amount of food was prepared for his train. Here he died in 1316. He was buried in the Cathedral, where his tomb is still to be seen in the North East Transept.

Among the interesting objects of the Parish are, first, Temple Court, a house which occupies the site of the Preceptory of the Knights Templars here. The origin of the Preceptory was due to the liberality of the Lord of the Manor of Upleadon, who became a Templar during the first half of the twelfth century and left his possessions to the Order. After its suppression by the Pope in 1312 many of its possessions passed to the Order of Hospitallers. Temple Court was in consequence attached to the Commandery or Preceptory of Dinmore. Particulars of the revenue and expenditure of Upleadon Manor extracted from the Report, made by the Prior, Philip de Thane, A.D. 1338, will be found in Bentley’s History, p. 35. Its annual Income amounted to £44 4s. 8d., equal to about £600 at present. From the Knights Hospitallers the estate of Temple Court was leased to Anthony Washbourne and Ann, his wife, and then was conveyed by Henry VIII. in 1544 to Hugh Appare. He soon parted with the estate to John Scudamore. John Scudamore had the Manor of Upleadon Temple Court, in Bosbury, late belonging to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem at Dinmore, and in 21 Eliz. he had pardon for alienating the Manor to Ralph Sheldon and others (13 and 14 Eliz. Inquis, No. 1). In 1635 it was purchased by Sir Robt. Pye, of Farringdon, Berks; from him it descended to Henry Alington, of Swinhope, Lincolnshire. He sold it to the late John Pitt, Esq., uncle of the present proprietor. A few stones are all that remain of the old house. They may be seen in the present kitchen, some thick walls (one 5ft. 3in. thick), and the course of the ancient moat, which may be easily traced. In 28 Edw. III., 1349, the Black Death raged through Europe from 1348 to 1350, fatal alike to man and beast. In 1348 there died in Bosbury, Coddington, and Cradley, 158 tenants; and in those vills the Bishop, as Lord, had for Heriots 75 oxen, 13 hynds, 3 calves, horses, 23 bullocks, 4 colts, 4 hogs, 2 pigs, and 7 rams.

A farm in the Parish is known as “Barlands,” a term applied to Land held by the service of ‘bearing’ or carrying the provisions of the Lord or Steward in their removes from place to place, such tenants being called “Bermanni.” (Somers, Gavelk: 118.) This farm also gives name to a Perry of much repute, which is produced in this part only of the County. Oldfield perry, still more valuable, is made here in considerable quantities, and a pear, called from its size the Pint Pear, is held in much estimation. Philips, while commending the pear tree, praises

“Chiefly the Bosbury, whose large increase
Annual, in sumptuous banquets claims applause.
Thrice acceptable beverage! Could but art
Subdue the floating lee, Pomona’s self
Would dread thy praise and shun the dubious strife.”
(Cider. Book I.)

A stone dovecote, which probably resembled the one at Garway, stood near the site of Bosbury Palace and was only destroyed in 1884. [Survey of Herefordshire Pigeon Houses, by A. Watkins, p. 7].

The Grange was in the 16th century for a few years the residence of Sir Rowland Morton, a great benefactor to the Parish. His mother was a lineal descendant of Sir Pagan de Tuberville, a knight, who accompanied the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066. His eldest brother was Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1486-1500, and Lord Chancellor. Sir Rowland married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Walter Pembridge (or Pembrugge), of Evesbatch. The at Chantry Chapel was erected and endowed by him. The Grange passed through the hands of several owners, and in 1869 came into the possession of Samuel Willcox, Esq..

Bosbury House contains an extensive Library, also some rare MSS. It belongs to the Baskerville Mynors’, after having passed through the hands of Stedman and Higgins.

The Crown Inn contains a fine oak-panelled room with a massive oak chimney-piece on which are three shields; one containing the arms and crest of the Wrottesley family of Wrottesley, the second those of Scrope, Earl of Wilts, of Castle Combe, and the third those of Charles Fox, of Broomfield. At the top is the date 1571. Three bosses remain in the ceiling; one bearing the Scrope Arms; the second the family coat of arms of Bp. Skipp surmounted by the mitre, the last the paternal coat and quarterings of Willm. Powlett, first Marquis of Winchester, with the garter and coronet. In Queen Elizabeth’s time this house was occupied by Richard Harford, Steward of the Manor. His mother was daughter of Sir John Scrope, of Castle Combe in Wilts; his wife, daughter of Charles Fox, of Bromfield. He died in 1559, aged 57, and his tomb may be seen on the S. side of the Chancel, but the inscription asserting that both Richard and his wife died in 1578 is certainly incorrect. The late Sir Harford Jones Brydges, Bart., of Boultibrook, is supposed to have been the representative of the family.

The following sketch of the Harford family is useful :—

The Grammar School was founded by Sir R. Morton about 1545. Like many others it has experienced several vicissitudes but is now firmly settled. The other Charities consist of the Poors’ Land, which produces some £15 per an. for the needy. The Brydges family left benefactions to provide clothing for the poor on St. Thomas’s Day. Robt. Probert, who died in 1862, also bequeathed money for Clothes. The income of these two gifts amounts annually to £9 2s. Elizabeth Brydges, Willm. Nash, and a rent-charge on the Gold Hill Estate, provide bread for the poor. Francis Brydges (ob. 1727) left Apprentice Fees, and John Meaking left money to furnish prizes for those proficient in Latin and English prose and verse composition and for arithmetic at the Grammar School. A. curious Christmas Carol known for the last hundred years as the Bosbury Carol is printed in Mr. Bentley’s History, p. 63.

In May, 1754, while digging for gravel, eleven sets of human bones were discovered about a yard below the surface. They were little decayed and were lying about two feet asunder, without any appearance of having been enclosed in coffins. These men were probably killed in one of the fights during the Civil War.


Bosbury is a Vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Hereford. The Church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and is valued at £400 per an. with 6½ acres of glebe. It is transitional Norman in style and consists of Chancel, Nave, N. & S. Aisles, and a Chantry Chapel (Perpendicular) added in the 16th cent. by Sir Rowland Morton. The Tower is detached and stands on the S. side of the Church, about 60ft. distant from it. There are six other examples of this arrangement in Herefordshire.

[See a good article on these by J. Severn Walker in Associated Architectural Reports and Papers; 1870, p. 295].

The S. porch of the Church is of open timber work supported on stone walls and probably dates from the 13th century. In the middle of the eastern shaft of the Norman door the remains of a holy water stoup and canopy are visible. The Chancel is 38 ft. 6 in. in length. The E. window is a late Perpendicular insertion filled with stained glass by Wailes in 1882. This was put in by Rev. E. Higgins in memory of two grandsons. An Early English window, also by Wailes, in memory of John Pitt, Esq., of Temple Court, is on the N. side. A very fine Organ near it was given by Mrs. Hope, sister of Mrs. Higgins.

A third window by Wailes occurs in the centre window of three Early English windows on the S. side of the Chancel. It represents St. Mark, and was erected by Rev. E and Mrs. Poynder in 1881. Within the Sacrarium are two monuments of the Harford family. They are early Renaissance work byJohn Guldo.

A very beautiful Chancel screen of Perpendicular work contains fine well proportioned bays with tracery. The nave is 78 ft. 8 inches in length and 46 ft. 3 inches in width. Six pointed arches on each side form an arcade. The Transitional character of the work is apparent in the bold, circular moulded bases of the piers on their plain square plinths and in the abacus and octagonal capitals. Single light windows, six on each side, form the clerestory. One of the narrow Early English lancets on the S. side was given by Mrs. Inett in 1890 and represents the Good Shepherd. A small Norman window on the W. of the Nave was filled by the parishioners with stained glass to the memory of Mrs.Hope. The lofty roof of the Nave is of open timber work. On the outside is a Norman corbel-table and a small bell-cot containing the old Sanctus bell.

The fine Chantry of Sir R. Morton occupies the E. end of the S. aisle. It is 15ft. 2in. in length by 10ft. 5in. wide, lit by three Perpendicular windows under a richly groined stone roof. On three pendants from the roof occurs his rebus, M upon a tun. The Font is Early English with a square bowl and probably took the place of an old Saxon Font discovered by the workmen at the first restoration of the Church in 1844. The pulpit contains on four of its fine sides good specimens of carved oak panelling, said to have been brought from Flanders. Many of the old oak seats of the Church have been preserved.

The belfry stands on the S., about sixty feet from the Church. It much resembles its neighbour at Ledbury, and is a massive structure twenty-nine feet square, divided into three stages by set-offs. The ground story has to the N. a well-proportioned doorway, seven feet in thickness. It possessed a lofty shingled spire, which was struck by lightning in 1638. Its repairs were always expensive, and in 1812 it was removed and the present low, pyramidal, slated roof erected in its place. The tower holds six bells, the first one bearing the name of the celebrated Gloucester founder, ‘Charles John Rudhall’ also a clock presented Advent, 1878, by Rev. J . E. Cheese. By the side of the path from the lych-gate (itself of uncertain date) rises a stone Cross, probably erected in the 14th cent. It rises from a substantial base of three steps and is surmounted by a St. Cuthbert’s Cross. From the ground to the apex this Cross measures sixteen feet and is of red sandstone. It is said to owe its preservation, when others elsewhere were more or less destroyed, to the circumstance that the then Vicar of the parish (Rev. W. Coke) pleaded for it successfully with the captain of the Parliamentary soldiers, who was sent to destroy it. This officer, however, imposed as the condition of its immunity that the following inscription should be engraved on it :—

“Honour not the †
But honour God for Christ.”

The lines may still be read though the letters are gradually becoming illegible.

On the floor of the S. aisle are two floriated crosses, which have always been supposed to mark the burial of two Knights Templars. A still more interesting stone may be seen in the wall of the southern wall of the nave. It is a memorial stone placed by Bp. Swinfield (1282) in memory of his father, who probably died at Bosbury. It is fast crumbling away, but bears the following inscription :—


The Church of Bosbury has attained its reverend and beautiful condition by successive restorations in the years 1844, 1851, 1859, and 1871. Its registers date from 1559. In and around the Church are inscriptions to the memory of Harford, Baskerville Mynors, Higgins, Hope, Mutlow, Colt, Stedman, Underwood, Lodge, Hartland, Elmehurst, Vevers, Jauncey, Hardwicke, Barrett, and others.

The right of collation to the Vicarage belongs to the Bishop. The earliest record of the appointment of an Incumbent is in 1200 by King John after the death of Bishop William de Vere.


1200 — Swan
1290 Stephen de la Felde
1302 William de Toby
1321 Thomas de Maristo
1325 Henry Boter
1344 John de Hewynter
1349 Philip Le Smythes
1362 William Martyn
1363 William de Bakkeford
1364 Hugh de Kerneseye
1383 Richard de Maddeley
1386 Henry Hadderley
1393 Richard Wolmer
1400 David Ap Kynebris
1418 John Combre
1427 Ralph Petyt
1439 Richard Aldebury
1458 Lewis Barne
1464 W. Odingley
1471 W. Harper
1472 Edmund Fysshe
1484 Reginald Call
1484 Thomas Fowler
(Bishop of Lachoren)
1507 Richard Townesend
1508 Richard Rugge
1512 Nicholas Smythe
1544 John Ferlor
1547 Thomas Blockey
1588 Anthony Collins
1608 George Wall
1641 William Coke
1690 Joshua Elmehurst
1709 Richard Langford
1710 Humphry Wynne
1724 John Jones
1748 Matthew Browne
1764 William Skinner
1766 John Barroll
1767 David Price
1776 William Reece
1777 William Allen
1797 Thomas F. Ottey
1801 John Lodge
1830 John Underwood
1856 Berkeley L. S. Stanhope
1866 John E. Cheese
1879 Samuel Bentley
1897 R. B. Bayly

Magister Rogerus de Bosbiri nuper defunctus fuit Penitentiarius in Eccl Heref et prebendarius. 1512. [Note: Master Roger of Bosbury was the bishop’s or penitential prebend with a seat in Chapter at Hereford Cathedral around the year 1273. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: volume 8: Hereford - J.S Barrow, 2002.]

Bosbury was formerly a Rectory in the Patronage of the Bishops of Hereford, but for the grave reasons assigned in the following Bull, most of the great Tithes have been long added to the revenues of the See and the Vicarage endowed with the lesser tithes been presented to successively by the Bishops of the Diocese.

“Innocentius Epi., Servus Servorum Dei venerabili Thomae Epo. Herefordensi Salutem et Apostolicam Benedictionem; cum episcopalis mensæ defectus eo sit gravior quo fortius tenentur Epi. ex officio suo debito existere hospitales, nos audita necessitate mensæ tuæ, cujus adeo tenues asseris esse proventus ut hospitalitatem ex eis nequeas exercere, tuis precibus inclinati auctoritate tibi Praesentiam indulgemus ut liceat tibi de Ledeburi et Bosburi Eccliis tuæ Diocesis in quibus ejus obtines patronatus ad collationem tuam et asseris pleno jure spectantes in usus proprios cum vacaverint retinere. Ita tamen quod in eis satis facias idoneos vicarios deservire et eis ex earumdem proventibus portionem congruam assignari ex quo commode sustentari valeant ac hospitalitatem et alia Eccliæ [Ecclesiæ] onera supportare. Nulli ergo omnino homini liceat hanc paginam concessionis infringere vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si quis autem hoc attemptare presumpserit indignationem Omnipotentis Dei et beatorum Petri et Pauli Apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum. Dat. Lateran. 8 Cal. Decemb. Pont. mei anno primo.”  This Bull of Innocent IV. was sent to Bp. Thomas Cantilupe who died Ann. 1285.

[Note: The Bull is a papal letter sent by Innocent V and dated 24th November 1276. A shorter version is given in Revd. Samuel Bentley’s book but without the date. The Pope is replying to a request from the Bishop of Hereford for funds to discharge the bishop’s duties of hospitality. The Pope grants him the use of an income from the churches of Ledbury and Bosbury provided that the vicars of the two churches have their proper allowance. The letter ends with the usual dire warnings to anyone who countermands the Pope’s instructions. Information courtesy of Philip Weaver.
   As an aside, Revd. Bentley gives his source as Harleian Manuscript 6726.]

The Parish was taxed to Ship Money at £40 17s. 7d. The Spire of the Church was burnt by lightning in 1638, and the fact is · recorded in the Parish Registers by the then Vicar. It was replaced, but was always costly in repairing, so that it was at length taken down by order of a Vestry Meeting in 1812. In 1870-1 the Chancel was restored by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Organ Chamber and Organ were added by Mrs. F. Hope. Her gifts to the Church amounted to £2,000. She was sister of Mrs. E. Higgins, co-heiress of G. Meredith, Esq., of Berrington Ct., co. Worcester. In 1525 a royal pardon was granted to Lewis Gayton, of Hereford, John Johnson, of Bosbury, and John Williams, of Hereford, for the murder of John Garret, at Hall Place, on 16 April, 1521. In 1271 Simon de Bosbury was Custos of the Chauntry priests in Hereford Cathedral. Cattley estate belonged to Berington of Bishopton, and was sold in 1750 to James Walwyn, of Longworth, by Edmund Thomas, of Hereford, maltster, eldest son of Humphrey and Elizabeth Thomas. Many of the old farm-buildings and homesteads were constructed with massive central chimneys, with brick top in quaint and chequered forms; ornamental gables with carved barge-boards were also very common. Substantial cornices, entablatures, and coignings of carved timber may still be seen in several houses, which give the Village a picturesque air.

Among the families buried in the Church with monuments or inscriptions are Harford, Brydges, Hopton, Wall, Elmhurst, Unett, Coke, Welsh, Staford, Crooke, Jauncey, Weaver, and Chatwinn.

Bosbury House belongs to the family of Higgins. (See Robinson, Mansions of Herefordshire, p. 32, and Woolhope Transactions, 1893, p.182)

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