Sun - March 2, 2014

Not Forgotten and The Great Escape - The War Memorials Of St James’ Church, Hereford

We've reported before about Faith Ford's research into some of those whose names are on the memorials to both World Wars in St James’ Church. The first part of this is now complete and published here. Faith has also added information about Land Workers and the workers at Rotherwas Munitions Factory. Pictured is Dennis Henry Morris, 1924-1944. If you have any information you would like included in the memorial project, please email Click on 'Read more' for the full article.

I am very grateful to members of St James’ Church and local residents who have provided me with the following information about the lives of those people who are recorded on the memorials in St James’ Church.

Particular thanks go to Joe Sockett, Tony Charles, Ena Price, Joan Clarke, Muriel Munn, Molly Hodges, Ella Levett, Doreen Pugh and Marie Hill. Sadly a long standing church member, and friend, Nora Foster, died at the time that I started the project; I am sure she would have wanted to contribute to it.

Initially I aniticipated that I would only find details of those who died in the Second World War. I was, therefore, very surprised that the first four details I received were about people from the First World War and pleased that we could learn something about them, too. Also a number of people told me they worked in the munitions factory, or had family members who worked there, and thought it was important to record this information so that future generations would know about the contribution they made to the war effort. A further group who aided the war effort emerged from my discussions, the land girls, and as some had been employed at Bartonsham Farm I thought it important to include them.


ALFRED THOMAS WILLIAMS (and his brother not listed on the memorial but whose name is always read aloud at Remembrance Services, WILLIAM HENRY WILLIAMS)

Mr Joe Sockett, a churchwarden when I first came to St James, has provided the information about his mother’s brothers Alfred and William. They were two of the sons of William and Annie Williams (nee Taylor) who lived in Park Street. 

The first, Alfred Thomas Williams, is recorded on the memorial. Born in 1891 he worked for the solicitors T A Matthews and later joined the Civil Service in Swindon. He served with the Royal Artillery and was killed in  1917. So far I have been unable to find any information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website ( regarding his death, burial or memorial.

The second brother, William Henry Williams, born 1884, had emigrated to Canada. He was the first man to enlist in British Columbia on 4th August 1914 and was killed in action on 12th December 1915. Joe’s son, Bob, wrote to me and stated that 'when the memorial was created the vicar at that time would not allow his name [William Henry] to appear on the memorial on the grounds that it would be on a memorial in Canada. Later vicars agreed that the name should be read out on Remembrance Services, and that in the event of repair being necessary, the name should be added - but no repair or restoration has ever taken place.'  

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website William Henry Williams is buried in Berks Cemetery Extension in Belgium. He was a Private in the Canadian Infantry (British Columbia Regiment). (See for more information.) It also states he was the son of William H. and Annie Sarah Williams of Park Street, Hereford, and that he died on 12/12/1915. It seems he had Canadian citizenship.


There is another William Henry from Park Street on the First World War Memorial, William Henry Charles, relative of Anthony Charles a current resident of Park Street who provided me with this information. Tony’s great grandfather, William Charles, was in the police force in Hereford and after retiring became the coroner’s officer. He married Hannah Haywood in St James Church (09/03/1880) and the family lived in Delacey Street (in police accommodation). They had four sons, William Henry was the fourth, and later a daughter. They then moved to Park Street (93 old numbering).

According to family research William Henry Charles was born in 1893 and died in August 1915 aged 22. He was in the Australian Light horse battalion and died in the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaign which claimed the lives of so many Australian and New Zealanders, in addition to members of the Herefordshire Regiment. The family believe he had gone to Australia perhaps looking for a better life and think that he probably worked his passage as they have been unable to find his name on any boat passenger list from that time.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves site it is recorded that his nationality was Australian, and that he was a private in the Australian Infantry. He died on 27/08/15 and his name is recorded on Lone Pine Memorial in Turkey. This is the actual site of some of the fiercest fighting of the Gallipoli campaign. For Cemetery photographs and details see the CWCG website.


Walter Bradley was first husband of Mrs Hurcombe’s mother. Mrs Hurcombe lived until very recently in Park Street though her early years were spent in a little cottage in St Owen’s Street (possibly where St Owen’s Place is now) . Now resident in a nursing home, she said the family lived in St Owen’s Street at the time of Walter’s death. This is corroborated on the Commonwealth website along with other information. It states he was a private in the 1st battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment and died 04/08/16 aged 34. Also, he was the son of William Bradley; husband of Jessie Bent (formerly Bradley)of St Owen’s Street. He is remembered in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt (on the Eastern side of the Suez Canal) .


Sadly, Joe Sockett also lost a member of his family listed on the 2nd World War Memorial, Harold Sockett, born approximately 1916. He was the son of his uncle Ernest Sockett and aunt Elizabeth who lived in Turner Street. Before the war Harold worked at Thynne's Tile Works. At the time of his death he was married with a daughter, Brenda. Harold joined the 2nd Battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment but was later transferred to the Durham Light Infantry where he rose to Lance Corporal. The War Graves site lists his parents and his wife, Alice, and that he is remembered at Groesbeek Memorial in The Netherlands. Harold died towards the end of the war (08/01/45).
Molly Hodges (nee Yapp) who also worked at the tile works told me that she remembered Harold.

John Lane Tillam has been remembered by several members of St James’ congregation as his parents owned a butcher’s shop in St Owen’s Street (somewhere opposite The Barrells pub) and this was a focal point for many local residents. Ella Levett recalls her mother going in the shop when the Tillam family had been informed that John as missing in action. Later they learnt that he was dead. Joan Clarke also recalls the family and believed John was around her own age. The Commonwealth Graves site reports he was 21 years old when he died on 25/03/44 and that he was a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and the son of John and Annie Elsie Tillam of Hereford. John was a sergeant and is buried at Hoogeveen (Hollandscheveld) General Cemetery.

A photograph of the butcher’s shop appeared in ‘Age to Age’ which is a newsletter published by an oral history group in Hereford. The photograph is in Volume 11 issue 2 and was provided by Dorothy Tillam (presumably a close relation).

(Molly Hodges told me that John Tillam had a popular dance band and played in parish halls etc in the war period. She said that Molly Jones another member of St James played the piano in this band. On speaking with Marie Hill I discovered she occasionally sang in the dance band.)

Joan Clarke and her sister, Muriel Munn, also remembered residents of Park Street where they lived their early years (on the field side). Both recalled Douglas Charles Sullivan, son of Albert Arthur and Lily Sullivan of Park Street (one of the houses set back from the road). Joan said she used to call for him every day on her way to St James’ School where they were both pupils. Douglas was a sergeant in the RAF and was 22 when he died on 03/10/43. He is remembered at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.

Joan and Muriel also remember Ernest John Sadler who lived 6 or 7 doors down from them in Park Street. Born in 1914 to Charles and Agnes Mabel Sadler, and later married to Alice May Sadler, he served in the Royal Army Service Corps as a driver, and died aged 30. The Commonwealth Graves Commission state his Grave/Memorial Reference to be All Saints Plot, grave 470, at Hereford Cemetery.

On speaking with Molly Hodges I discovered that Ernie Sadler was her first cousin. Molly lived opposite Joan and Muriel in Park Street, just up the road from her aunt’s family, The Sadlers. Her mother, Ethel Yapp (nee Bigglestone) was the sister of Mabel Sadler, and Ernie was older than Molly. He married May Jenkin from Eign Road - opposite The Brewer’s Arms. Molly confirmed that Ernie was a driver and told me that he died from a heart attack.

Joan Clarke also remembered Albert Edward Kennett who lived near St Owen’s Gate. Born 1919 to Albert Thomas and Harriet Kennett, he served as a Private in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and died on 16/07/44 and is remembered at St Manvieu War Cemetery, Cheux.

Joan also recalls Albert Jennings who was a little younger than her. He came from a large family (12 or 13 children in all) one of whom lived in Park Street until recently. Molly also remembered the family.

Muriel recalled Harry Benbow from Turner Street who was a similar age to her. Molly also recalled Harry and thought he had a brother, Ron, and possibly was in the police force. The War Graves site lists him as Henry Walter Benbow (Royal Artillery) who died on 27/11/41 and is remembered in St Martin’s Cemetery, Hereford.

Muriel also recalled Edward Warwick from Park Street who she thinks was in the army, and remembered Alan Griffiths who lived at the bottom of Park Street who left a young widow. Molly also recalled Alan Griffiths.

Both Muriel and Molly also remember William J Grisman from Portfield Street who was in the RAF (a big smart man according to Muriel). Molly recalls the sadness of the family and thought he was buried at Tupsley. The War Graves site states that William Jack Grisman was in the RAF and died aged 29 on 06/04/44. He was the son of William Charles and Gertrude Ellen Grisman, and the husband of Marie Grisman. He is remembered at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery in Poland. *** Further to this information going on-line I received an email at Christmas 2007 from the daughter of W J Grisman, Judy Maidment, who now lives in Australia. Judy, a twin, informed me that she was born when her father was in prison and so never knew her father. Her mother, Marie, remarried and now also lives in Australia. They asked us to correct some of our details. Jack was a man of average height (it was his father who was the big man). Jack was captured after bailing out of his aeroplane after trying to make his way to a neutral port. He was held imprisoned in Stalaft Luft III and was one of those portrayed in The Great Escape film. Sadly he was one of the 50 escapees who was shot after being recaptured on Hitler's orders. He is buried in Poland and there is a memorial to him at that site. (Also as an aside, Marie's parents were Sydney and May Marchant who lived in Southbank Road and ran a grocery shop in High Street Hereford which many of our local residents remember especially as the smell of fresh ground coffee emanated from it luring them to the shop! Judy also told us that Jack's brother, now in his 90s, still lives at Ewyas Harold. Following an article reporting this email contact with Judy Marchant, the local BBC radio station requested more details which was broadcast exactly 64 years after Jack's death. Several local people contacted us and others who heard the broadcast told me that they had known Jack and his family. Ena Boucher (see below) informed me she had been with Jack at St James' School. I am so glad that Judy, Jack's daughter, was able to know that her father is not forgotten in Hereford and St James' Church.

Muriel and Joan both had wartime marriages (in St James’ Church - full details in parish register held at the Records Office). Their husbands both served in the forces in WW2 and were fortunate to survive their service so that many of us knew them: Burt Munn served in Burma for 4 years, and Trevor Clarke was in the RAF (the ‘dam busters’ squadron). Muriel and Joan’s father, William Carter, served in The Guards in WW1 and went to France in the medical corps. They say he never spoke about that time. Molly’s husband, Howard Hodges, also served in the war.

Ena Price (nee Boucher), now resident in Green Street, was born in Harold Street and her parents owned a shop in Green Street (opposite the electrical repair shop). She entered the ATS in 1938 but can remember many of the families of men lost in WW2 recorded on the memorial.

Like Joan Clarke, Ena she can remember Albert Kennett who lived near the shop in Green Street. She also recalled John Tillam and the butcher’s shop and said the family also had a house in Hampton Street. She also remembers Alan Griffiths who was a member of the church and friendly with Joe Hill who was church treasurer when I first came to St James. They were members of the choir. She also remembers Reginald W Owens who lived in what was the ‘derelicts’ (now number 3 Green Street) and that his family had musical evenings in their house (piano and violin) - his 2 brothers survived the war. She remembers Herbert L Southall being in the RAF and living in Grenfell Road. Again she remembered W J Grisman as living in Portfield Street. Ena knew Dennis Henry Morris as she was a friend of the family and described him as a lovely young man.

D, a local relative, was able to provide me with much information about Dennis Henry Morris, whose life is recorded on the Second World War Memorial. The family were originally from Tupsley and Dennis were baptised in St Paul’s Church but the family moved to the St James area in 1941. Dennis had attended St Paul’s School and then St Owen’s before starting work at Hardings ironmongery shop (now the site of MacDonalds) in Commercial Street. He was training in carpentry too when he was ‘called up’ aged 18. Sadly he died of injuries sustained in a campaign in France to capture Caen following the Normandy Landings and died on 9 July 1944, aged only 19 years old.

Shortly after the war, the war office arranged for his parents to visit his grave at the cemetery where he is buried and they were able to take flowers from other families whose relatives were buried in France; they also photographed the graves for them. They were greatly assisted by Father Sabire who was a Catholic priest attached to a local school; he tended many of the graves for the families. With a young French teacher (who owned an old German car that had been abandoned after the war) his parents were able to visit several cemeteries. Father Sabire told them of the bravery of two young French girls from the town who carried vital information to the allies before the assault on their town. Dennis's parents also had a chance meeting with the Paris correspondent of the New York Times who was visiting Caen at the same time. He was there to report on a visit by Montgomery to award honours to some of the local people. They told the American correspondent of the young girls’ bravery; he sought out and found one of the girls as he was determined to present them to Montgomery. They had to return to England and were unable to be present at the ceremony. It would be interesting to see if there was any account of this in The New York Times should anyone be considering such research!

Dennis's sister was training to be a hairdresser at the outbreak of war but became a land girl and was employed by Matthews Dairy in Bartonsham which pleased the family as she didn’t want to leave home. Part of her job was to take milk to local residents and as a result knew many of the names of those remembered on the Second World War Memorial. Like the others she could remember John Tillam (son of the butcher). The Morris family still attended St Paul’s Church and his sister could not recall when the memorial was erected in St James. After the war she went back to hairdressing and later worked from home as this allowed her to care for her mother who, sadly, never really recovered from losing her son, Dennis. War has so many unseen casualties.

I was shown many photographs of the Morris family dating back to the 19th Century, and copies of the Tupsley Parish Magazine which had relevant family information such as baptisms, marriages and deaths. Her father became an inspector on the railway.

The war graves site records Dennis’ death as 09/07/44 and states he was a private in the North Staffordshire Regiment (6th battalion), son of William Henry and Annie Beatrice Morris of Hereford. He is buried at Cambes-en-Plaine War Cemetery. See photograph.



Photos here

In recent years there has been a local project to record the names of people who worked in the munitions factory in the war years and a permanent memorial has been established at Rotherwas to commemorate their contribution to the war. Nora Foster, a life long member of St James who died earlier this year, was chosen to represent them - a picture of her is on the memorial. She worked in the factory and became a radio announcer and presenter there.

In the course of my conversations with members of our congregation about the memorials I have been struck by how many have associations with the munitions factory - either working there as young women, or having fathers or relatives working there at that time. Although the names of some of the munitions workers have been recorded on the memorial at Rotherwas, it would seem that many have not been remembered and I thought it would be appropriate to include some of them here so that there contribution to the war effort will not be forgotten.

I have spoken to 3 eye witnesses to the only bombing by Germans at the factory and thought other people would also be interested, so hope to include some details.

Joan Clarke was working in the munitions factory (examining bombs) during the war and recalls the night the bomb fell from an enemy plane when she was still working her shift. Her sister, Muriel Munn, who was ‘on the buses’ had just taken the night shift workers into the factory and saw the bomb fall. Their friend, Elsie Bodenham, who lived in Eign Road told me that from her bedroom window she saw the German aeroplane flying low over the munitions factory and the flash of the explosion.

Ena Price’s father, Thomas Henry Boucher, was also a worker at the munitions factory and was on fire drill the night that the bomb fell. He got out of the factory but went back to drag another man out thus saving his life, for which he received the BEM. Ena told me that he father sustained shrapnel injuries from which he subsequently died. The family received no compensation or assistance.

Ella Levett’s father, Bertram Hope Levett, was a member of St James Church and worked at the Co-op prior to the war and up until 1941, and was also a special constable. In 41 he joined the police force and was then drafted to the munitions factory. His sister, Doris Prosser, from Tupsley also worked in the munitions factory.

Doreen Pugh’s father, William John Archer, also worked at the munitions factory. She remembers the yellow powder that used to cover his hair and clothes, and attributes the breathing of this powder as to the cause of his death in later years. (Joan Clarke also remembers the yellow powder dyeing people’s hair.)

Doreen’s husband, Gerald, had an aunt who came to live with his family (his mother’s sister) to escape the dangers in London. His aunt, Rene Ford, also worked at the munitions factory. Another aunt came too and left her children with his mother so that she could be in the land army.

Marie Hill also worked in the munitions factory although she did not make bombs; instead she worked in the wages office at the factory. Her father, Albert Wills, who was born in one of the cottages adjoining Mill Street Stores, also worked at the munitions factory - he was in the patrol force there. Marie’s mother, Maud Wills, was the uniform officer for the land girls.


As already stated, Dennis Morris's sister was a land girl at Matthews Dairy (Bartonsham Farm) in the war period. She had just been accepted to go into the land army when her parents moved into St James and, whilst speaking with old Mr Matthew’s, her mother discovered they were desperate for more help on the farm. It was an ideal solution as her daughter didn’t want to leave home. She made friends with two other land girls who had come from away to work at the farm and they would like to be remembered on our record. Her milk round was first in Park Street, Harold Street and Green Street, and later she changed to St Owen’s Street, Bath Street, Kyrle Street and ended up at the police station where she delivered milk according to the number of prisoners (half a pint per day was allowed).

Her first friend, Muriel Hodgkinson came to Hereford from Sheffield in 1941, having volunteered to work in the women’s land army. She worked for J W Matthews at Bartonsham which she remembers as a happy time, though hard work! Amongst other things she learned how to milk a cow by hand, and drive a horse and float in town. Her round was in High Town and she recalls the army and RAF vehicles that made driving quite hard. Her round included the Odeon cinema, shops and cafes and she delivered milk to the Dean’s wife. At that time the Deanery was used as a billet for some of the Yorks and Lancs regiment and it was here she met her future husband, Frank, who was in the regiment. They were engaged and then he was involved in the D Day landings. They married in October 1946, Muriel having left the farm in May 1946. During her stay she was billeted with Mrs Tout in Green Street who was widowed in 1942. She had a daughter, Gwen, who worked at Thynnes Tile factory, and a son, Bernard, who was in the RAF and spent his war in India. Muriel now lives in Skipton and is widowed but has children and grandchildren.

Her second friend is Joyce Wilkinson who came to Hereford in 1942. Her milkround was as far as Whitecross. She was engaged to Bill who was also in the RAF in India, and was demobbed in August 1945 when her husband returned from the war, and they married in October 1945. Sadly she too is widowed now but has a daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter. She still lives in Sheffield.

If you have any information you would like included in the memorial project, please email me at

Copyright Faith Ford 2006

Posted at 10:44 PM     Top  

Fri - July 6, 2007

Why bury Herefordshire's Stonehenge under concrete?

This is Herefordshire Council's proposal for Hereford's Stonehenge, a 4000 year old monument of national and international significance, discovered on the line of the Rotherwas Relief Road and named the 'Rotherwas Ribbon'. It must be protected and the road building stopped.

A Herefordshire Councillor is leading a surge of anger against Herefordshire Council both locally and nationally for the secretive way in which it has made a decision to concrete over the now famous 'Rotherwas Ribbon' – something the council's own archaeologist has described as having international significance. Other Councillors (including our Ward Councillor, Mark Hubbard) are now stepping forward to speak out against their own Cabinet and demand that the road is stopped.

Green Councillor Gerald Dawe, whose ward includes the now world-famous 'Rotherwas Ribbon', has described the proposal to concrete over this hugely significant find as “cultural vandalism of the highest order. The first I knew about this decision was on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, yet I am the ward councillor. Decision-making is again going on behind closed doors. A clique in the Council appear to have known about this find for a long time. Why are they excluding the Herefordshire public yet again?”

“It is appalling that democratically elected councillors and the general public have been kept in the dark. Allowing only 200 people to view it for a few minutes this weekend is completely inadequate. We need council leaders to involve the whole council and local people in coming up with a more imaginative solution than burying Hereford's Stonehenge under concrete."

Read the full details on our Council's highly questionable behaviour over at the comprehensive and also read comments from people all over the world (yes this discovery is that important) on the local BBC site here. UPDATE: sign the online petition asking the Prime Minister to Save the Rotherwas Ribbon here.

Posted at 10:04 PM     Top  

Tue - May 1, 2007

General Hospital to general housing

The last three years has seen big changes to Nelson Street and Green Street as a result of the redevelopment of the General Hospital site, first known as Hereford General Infirmary, to form over 80 dwellings. With the sale of the old Porter’s Lodge at the bottom of Mill Street at the end of last year, Laing Homes work was complete and management of the site passed to the residents of the development and land agents Trinity Estates.

The foundation stone for the Hereford Infirmary was laid in 1781 and the building opened to less ceremony in 1783. Seen as elegant at the time, and remaining so, the plans included eleven wards, physicians' rooms, apothecary, laundry and staff quarters.

The 1785 diagram shows an imposing building of three storeys, with a roof pediment. The main building had wings on either side with a single storey flat roof running out to two storey pitched roof outlying buildings. The outlier to the north east accommodated porter and kitchens. The lodge to south west included a wash house and a brew house and even a brewery. Apparently, beer was a requirement for both staff, and, on prescription, for patients.

In 1834 the ground floor wings were raised another storey, the first of many extensions. In 1865 a new lodge was built on the land between the Infirmary and Castle Green, which included the site of the former Castle Mill and was near the passage of the old town ditch. Between 1887 and 1888 a new two storey block was added to the north west end of the building. The new extension, Victoria Ward, was funded by an appeal to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

We hope that Trinity Estates will take its responsibilities for this Grade 2 Listed landmark seriously, including the gardens and trees, as the building has been a part of the riverside architecture and City views for nigh on 225 years. Joe Nicholas

Reference: Renton 1999 ‘The Story of Herefordshire’s Hospitals, Longaston Press.

Posted at 08:29 AM     Top  

Sun - February 26, 2006

Not Forgotten

Faith Ford is researching and writing short biographies of some of those whose names are on the memorials to both World Wars in St James’ Church. These will be published and made available in the church and on the church and JABA websites, so that we have a more detailed record of those who gave their lives in the wars. She is asking for anyone who has information, or who can provide contact details of people they think may be relatives, to contact her on Hereford 340107 or email or email us if you prefer.

Posted at 09:44 AM     Top  

Sat - September 17, 2005

History of our streets - Mill Street - by Sarah Willetts

Originally called Britons Street, Mill Street ran alongside the city ditch or moat as it drained into the river.  There had been water mills here since before 1527, utilising water-power to grind grain and fodder for local farmers. Over the next 200 years they were demolished and re-built several times, at the whim of King or Council. Speede's map of 1610 shows two water mills on the line of the city ditch below the Castle. Read more ...

By the nineteenth century, the mills were long gone and the Castle Mill-pond was part of the city's makeshift sewerage system.  Streets up to a mile away drained into it, via open ditches and culverts. The surface was covered in green scum, and the smell must have been unbearable on a hot day. At its southern end, the pond was less than 100 yards from the boundary of the Infirmary (the old General Hospital) which must have been an uncomfortable thought for the unfortunate patients. 
In 1853, Dr Henry Bull presented a report to the General Board of Health on the subject of infectious diseases.  He was convinced that the state of this pond was one of the contributing factors to the regular outbreaks of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, scarlet fever and dysentery in the area. This report lead to the Hereford Improvement Act being passed in 1854, allowing for a complete rebuild of the city's drains and sewers.
Work began in 1855. Underground sewage pipes were laid and the Castle Mill-pond filled in, leaving just the pond we know today as the Duck-pond. The street was renamed Mill Street that year.

Originally published in JABA 6 by Sarah Willetts of Park Street

Sources:  Shoesmith (1992), Roberts (2001), Spiers (1961)

Posted at 10:08 PM     Top  

History of our streets - St Owen Gate - by Sarah Willetts

St Owen Gate is near the site of the old city toll gate of the same name, which stood where the Indian restaurants either side of St Owen Street are now.  It probably dated from around 1190, when Hereford's sheriff was granted the £56 0s 8d to build four city gates, and it stood until 1784. Read more ...

In the nineteenth century, St Owen Gate was one of the most unhealthy areas of the city, right next-door to the open sewer that was the Castle Mill-pond. In the 1850's, when the area was described as being in a 'most miserable condition', the people of twelve households had just two outdoor privies between them!  It's no wonder that diseases and infections were rife.

The old slums were eventually demolished and the present houses built in 1914 as 'model dwellings'.  For some time, the St James Primary School was nearby, roughly where the electricity substation is now.

At least the slum-dwellers were not short of places to drown their sorrows:  at one time there were no less than six pubs within a stones throw of St Owen Gate. The only ones remaining are the Victory, once the Bricklayers' Arms, and the Barrels, formerly the Lamb Inn.  The name of this pub might owe something to the Knights Templar, who used the Lamb as an emblem, and whose circular chapel was discovered in the early 1920s further down St Owen Street. The flats at the corner of Mill Street replaced the old Ship Inn, and now have a hidden corner in the garden where a piece of the old city wall has been recreated.

Originally published in JABA 8 (June 2004).

Posted at 10:05 PM     Top  

History of our streets - St James Road and St James Terrace - by Sarah Willetts

It is not too hard to guess that the nearby church of St James was what gave St James Road and Terrace their names. Read more ...

The church was first proposed in the early 1860s as there was no nearby church to serve the many new houses being built at that time in the area.  Although there were suggestions that the destroyed St Owen church be resurrected, it was finally agreed that a smaller one would be more suitable, and the foundation stone was laid in 1868. 
The main force behind this new church was John Venn, Vicar of St Peter's and St Owen 1833 - 1870.  He was one of Hereford's greatest benefactors, founding The Society for Aiding the Industrious in 1841, to work towards better conditions for the (industrious) poor.  In between his parish duties he found time to establish many charitable projects, including soup kitchens (one of which survives, as a tattoo parlour!); a flour mill and public baths; reading rooms and a library; public allotments; a dispensary and some 'model cottages' (complete with one privy each) on Kyrle Street.
St James church, also known as the Venn Memorial Church in tribute to the good man, was almost destroyed by fire in 1901.  Unfortunately, the insurance had just run out and the renewal forms were 'in the post', but luckily the insurance company agreed to pay the £5,000 needed to rebuild.  The church reopened in 1903, although William Collins noted in 1915 that a tower and spire were still to be added.  He also recorded that the charities of the parish amounted to £40 per annum, while those of St Peter's and St Owen combined only came to £27 pa.
St James Road was named in about 1882, as one of the main access roads to the church.

Originally published in JABA 9 (July 2004).
From Mr J Buchanan-Brown, of Portfield St
Suggests that the reason for the Lamb pub name may not be due directly to the Templars, but to the Brethren of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, who took over the properties of the Knights Templar when they disbanded.  The Hospital's patron saint was St John the Baptist, and it was he who had the lamb as his symbol.
He also speculates that the Sun Inn could have been founded by an old soldier, returning from serving for the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses, and retiring to keep an inn named for the badge of his old commander.  Personal badges were ofter used as pub signs, accounting for the many White Harts, Blue Boars etc.  It certainly would have been a good place to choose for an inn,  near one of the main gates into the City.
More feedback welcome!

Do you have an interest in local history and would you like to contribute material to the website? Perhaps you have some old photos that we could scan and put on the site too. Please do contact us on

Posted at 09:58 PM     Top  

History of our streets - Nelson Street - by Sarah Willetts

Named around 1865 for Admiral Nelson, who was given the Freedom of the City of Hereford in 1802.  The street leads towards Castle Green and the Nelson memorial, which was built in 1809.  Originally Nelson's statue was supposed to top the column, but when funds ran short an urn was substituted.  This is acorn-shaped, supposedly to symbolise the timber supplied to the Navy by Herefordshire. Read more ...

The General Hospital, opened in 1783 on land donated by the Earl of Oxford.  It was originally a three-storey building with two ground-floor wings, and was supplied with hot and cold baths and its own brewery (beer was prescribed to patients in those enlightened days!).

In 1850 the Hospital had 80 beds, and that year spent £22 on leeches; £132 on drugs and medicines; and £158 on wine, beer and cider.  During the latter part of the 19th Century much alteration and expansion took place:  gas lighting was installed, the Hospital was connected to mains water, and the first Children's Ward opened.  By 1900, the brewery had closed but the Hospital still had its own milk-cow.
The two World Wars saw staff shortages, leading to the appointment of the first lady house-surgeon in 1915.  Between the wars, major building and expansion works were carried out, including  the opening of a new Maternity Ward.  Numbers 1 and 2 Nelson Street were used for nurse accommodation.  At this time the Hospital was getting through 20,000 eggs and 18 tons of potatoes a year.
In 1948 the NHS took over, and the staff spent £3 on food and £105 on drinks at a celebratory dinner.  The Hospital specialised in A&E, Orthopaedics and Age Care until its closure in 2002 when Hereford's new Hospital was opened.  For more details, see Charles Renton's definitive book on the history of Herefordshire's Hospitals.

Originally published in JABA 10 (Feb/Mar 2005).

Posted at 09:55 PM     Top  

History of our streets - Scots Close - by Sarah Willetts

Scots Close was named after a famous Civil War victory over Scottish forces which took place nearby. Read more ...

Charles I (1625-1649) was a believer in the monarch's absolute power, but by 1642 the people were becoming rather tired of his constant demands for taxes to cover his extravagances.  The country divided as Parliament and the King went to war. Hereford was a strategic gateway to Wales and the Marches, and a firm Royalist stronghold.  It was briefly occupied in 1642 and again in 1643 - the Roundheads did not find the population co-operative and left after a few months due to lack of money to pay their troops and to buy food.
After his defeat at the battle of Naseby late in July 1645, King Charles stayed 12 nights in Hereford.  A few days after he left, the Parliamentarian Earl of Leven and his Scots army arrived.  They may have been hoping to catch up with Charles in Hereford, but progress was slow:  the Earl complained to Parliament that Herefordshire's roads were the worst the Scots had encountered in England, and that it had taken a whole day to cover only eight miles.
Barnabas Scudamore had strengthened the City's defences since the earlier occupation, and the besiegers met with a vigorous defence.  A large earthwork had been constructed through along the Bartonsham meadow, roughly following the line of Park Street and Scots Close.
During late August, fighting was concentrated round St Owen's Gate.  The defenders fired or flooded the mines dug under the gate by the Parliamentary forces, and confused them with 'fire-balls, lights upon our steeples, by dogs, cats and outworn horses 'turned out upon their workes'.  St Owen's Church, a valuable piece of cover for the besiegers, was destroyed.
On 2nd September news came that the King was advancing, and the unsuccessful Scots departed.  They had lost more than 1200 men, the City only 21.
King Charles stayed in Hereford for a few days, during which time he knighted Barnabas Scudamore.  He also added to Hereford's existing coat of arms nine St Andrew's crosses (to signify the nine regiments of defeated Scots), and gave them the motto 'Invictae fidelitatis praemium' meaning 'The reward of invincible loyalty'.
The war was nearly over, and Charles I never returned to Hereford.  In December 1645 Colonel John Birch decided to take the city once and for all, and to show the natives who was boss.  He hid his troops in the ruins of St Guthlac's Priory, where the County Hospital now stands, and in Scots Hole, a nearby hollow.  Security at nearby Byster's Gate was low and Hereford was taken early the next morning, in half an hour and with the loss of only 10 lives.
Parliament appointed John Birch as Governor of Hereford, but the citizens must still have remembered the motto the King had given them:  Birch commented that the city was 'almost as difficult to keepe as to take'!
Sources:  Shoesmith; Roberts

Posted at 09:51 PM     Top