Modern Clifford: 1536-present
of Clifford Priory – redistribution of land – the civil war – the
drovers – crossing the Wye – Clifford Primary School – St Mary’s Church
– the creation of Hardwicke – Holy Trinity, Hardwicke – Thomas William
Webb – the railways – Francis Kilvert – Clifford today
is recorded of Clifford during this time until King Henry VIII decided
to dissolve the monasteries in his battle with the Catholic Church over
his divorce. Clifford Priory was dissolved between 1535 and 1540 with
all other monastic houses in the country. The buildings of the Priory
were converted for use as houses or farms, or demolished for use as
stone. Such diligent recycling of building materials was a
characteristic of the times, and villagers had already demolished much
of Clifford Castle for use in their own properties.
Redistribution of land
the Priory was dissolved, the advowson (right of appointment of a
priest) passed to the Walwyn family together with the ‘greater tithes’
(part of the income from the parish). Meanwhile the Priory’s lands were
sold off to powerful local families, in particular to the Middlewood
estate, the Whitney estate (by this time, owners of Clifford castle),
and the Moor estate owned by the Penoyre family.
families were to dominate the local area for the next few hundred
years. For example the Middlewood estate was owned by the Higgins
family from the early 1700’s until1905. William Higgins is listed on
the 1851 census as Attorney and Solicitor, and a holding cell in the
property of Middlewood House still exists where prisoners were
The civil war
1642, at the beginning of the Civil War, Herefordshire was
predominantly Royalist, like most of the west of Britain. By
1645, the royalist forces were coming under increasing pressure from
the parliamentary troops, and on June 18th that year, King Charles I
arrived in Hereford to try to raise troops and money. On 22nd
June, Barnabas Scudamore, Governor of Hereford and High Sheriff, sent
out the following warrant:
His Majesty’s express Command at the Unanimous desire of the Gentry and
other Inhabitants of this County assembled the 21st June at Hereford, I
am to require you Mr Thomas Penoyer and Mr John Higgins gent to cause
forthwith to be listed within the parish of Clifford, thirty seaven
able bodied men such as you shall judge fittest for Service, and to
cause them without fayle to appeare at the gen’all Rendezvous at
Wigmarsh the 28 day of this month, and to cause a months contribution
of y’r parish to be collected and brought in by you at the same time
for the providinge of Muskets Bandoleers etc. for the sayd Souldiers so
But the muster was to no avail. By the end
of the year, the parliamentary forces had established control over most
of the county, and by February 1646 Thomas Penoyer was imprisoned in
Hereford charged with forcing people to fight for the king. The charge
brought against him read that ‘About
midnight being assisted with his servants pulled (this man) out of his
bedd and pressed him to be a souldyer for the kinge’ and that ‘Mr
Penoyer did beate and wound diverse of them that he did presse for
neglecting or refusing the said service and threatened to hang those
that disobeyed him therein’. Many of his goods were
confiscated and in September 1648 parliamentary troops plundered the
Penoyre family house at The Moor.
James Penoyre, his oldest son,
had also fought for the king, despite being only 16, and was
wounded. After the war the family retrieved most of their
possessions, and in 1655 James married Dorothy Lloyd and settled at
Hardwicke Court, where the family still lives today.
has always been a primarily agricultural parish, and life in the area
for most of its residents has been largely shaped by the rhythms and
trends of the agricultural cycle.
Before the arrival of
railways and motor transport, livestock walked to market. Stock was
collected into groups of several hundred animals and then herded from
the hilly areas of Wales and Scotland to fatten on the lush grazing
grounds around London. By the mid 18th century over 30,000 cattle from
Wales travelled annually through Herefordshire, including through
Clifford, on these so-called droving roads. When the cattle reached the
hard roads they had to be shod to protect their feet. One of the main
shoeing stations in Herefordshire was at the Rhydspence Inn, just over
the river from Clifford.
Wherever possible, drovers tried to
avoid tollgates, where a toll had to be paid on each animal. There was
a tollgate in Bredwardine, so drovers would take their cattle over
Merbach hill to save money. Part of the current Wye Valley walk follows
an old drover route. Another local drovers’ route was across a ford
near the present-day site of the Whitney toll bridge, which
Cardiganshire drovers used to take their cattle to the English
Traditional drovers’ routes are often given
away by the width of the road, since cattle needed broad verges, and by
the names of places and fields. Little London in Staunton-on-Wye, on
the road between Clifford and Hereford, was probably named by a
returning drover. Overnight stopping-off places were often situated
near three or five pine trees, which acted as B&B signs for
Crossing the Wye
unpredictability of the Wye was shown in 1730, when Whitney old church
was swept away by a huge flood, and the river changed its course. The
church’s remains were left high and dry on the wrong side of the river.
By the end of the 18th century, local dignitaries were fed up
with fording the river, and decided to build a bridge over the Wye at
Whitney. Tomkyns Dew, Lord of the Manors of Whitney and Clifford,
had a bill presented to the House of Commons on 9th November 1774. The
bill was passed, and a group of local men was given the task of
building the bridge in three years, having been allotted land for a
tollhouse. They were allowed to take stone, gravel and sand as required
from Tomkyns Dew’s property.
The first bridge collapsed owing to
a combination of bad foundations and floods. A second bridge soon
suffered the same fate. A third bridge was then washed away on February
1795 in a flood two and half feet higher than any previously recorded.
The three bridges were built of stone and were composed of five arches.
Each arch had a span of 30 feet, and was 15 feet above river level and
12 feet wide.
This third disaster was enough for the group of
men charged with building the bridge. Having been financially ruined by
their efforts, they retired to pursue other activities. “The
pertinacity of these gentlemen must arouse our admiration,” commented
one local historian.
But in 1796 a fourth effort was made –
“courage was shown by these men in tackling a fourth bridge after such
rapid disasters to the former three” – and this time it was successful.
Tolls were levied on all users of the bridge, with the exception of
Whitney residents and their cattle, who were allowed to use the bridge
The present Whitney toll bridge, looking towards Clifford from Whitney.
Photo: Dave Prescott
the time the bridge was successfully constructed the river had become
an important trade route. The large household at Clock Mill
demonstrates the importance of the river to trade at this time. In 1793
it consisted of a water corn mill, grist mill, cider mill and clover
mill. There had previously been a fulling mill as well, and many
neighbouring pieces of land show signs of sheep baths where fleeces
were washed prior to shearing.
Also in the late eighteenth
century and early nineteenth century – according to a government
hydrological survey carried out in 1965 – coal and other heavy articles
from the Forest of Dean and Bristol were brought up the Wye by barge.
Cider, bark and timber were sent back by the same conveyance to the
River Severn. The river was navigable at that time as far as Hay.
Clifford Primary School
1814 the parish started collecting funds for the erection of Clifford
Primary School. Thomas Stallard Penoyre of The Moor donated some land,
but it took four years to get enough money together to start building.
The vicar (Revd. John Trumper, vicar 1805-1855) applied to the National
Society (a charitable body) for a grant and work started in 1818. In
1820 the John Smith Charity of Peterchurch agreed to provide the Board
Legal complications in appointing new trustees, and
the death of Thomas Stallard Penoyre in 1821 before the land had been
conveyed to the school held up any more work until 1834, when a new
scheme was drawn up. This time the plans went through and by early 1837
the school was opened, overseen by The Smith Charity. The school was
smaller than it is now, since it has been extended several times.
Between 1855 and 1887, the charity also hosted two ‘dame
schools’ (infant schools run in private houses) – one in Westbrook and
one in Clifford itself
By 1874 the school was called the
‘Clifford Endowed National School’ and in 1889-1890 an extension to the
schoolroom and some cloakrooms were built, followed in 1905 by a grant
of additional land from the Penoyre family to the Smith charity for a
In 1909 Herefordshire County Council took over the
running of the school. New classrooms were added in 1910 and 1914.
Cookery was taught from 1927, woodwork from 1934, and gardening after
the addition of a further plot in 1936. Students from Peterchurch and
Vowchurch came by train to the small halt (Green Sidings) on the Golden
Valley line until its closure in 1941, and then they came by bus.
During the Second World War several evacuees from the Bootle
area of Lancashire attended the school. This was quite an upheaval both
for them and for the locals, but they seemed to settle very well and
some returned to visit in later years.
At the split of
primary and secondary education in 1947-48, there were no places for
secondary pupils in Herefordshire, and so most initially went across
the border to Clyro. Some of them received special bicycles for the
purpose. It was not until 1963 that Herefordshire provided a local
secondary school for its pupils in Peterchurch.
In July 1948 the
school became Clifford County Primary School, as it is now. A canteen
was opened in 1949, replaced by a new dining hut in 1961. Electricity
finally reached the school in 1951, and flush toilets in 1954.
Churches in Clifford and Hardwicke (click here for more)
the many churches and chapels in the parish built over the past
millennium, only a few now survive. It is possible to trace the history
of a church in Middlewood through historical records as follows:
Duncomb’s History of Herefordshire/Clifford states: In the year 1200
Walter de Clifford and Agnes De Conde endowed 9 acres of Middlewood
Pasture and Middlewood Common to Friar Stephen of Winforton Island for
In 1657, when one Silas Taylor undertook inventories
for Cromwell, he states: There is ye church of Middlewood and seven
chapples of ease as well as Saint Oswald’s. In ye church is ye
tomb onely of a fryer cut exquisitely in wood under an arch on ye north
side and nothing else as I could meet with”.
In the nineteenth
century, John Webb mentions in his diaries that the remains of the
church in Middlewood were pulled down by a local landowner, William
there has been a church on the site of St Mary’s for well over a
thousand years. When the monks of the Priory built St Mary’s church in
the 13th century, they were probably replacing an older building. Some
original stonework remains from the monks’ building, although major
alterations were made in the 19th century.
During the first
restoration of 1839 the church was enlarged. The north wall was taken
down and a baptistery and vestry built on either side of a central
porch. In a second restoration of 1888 these were pulled down and the
present north aisle, porch, vestry and organ chamber erected.
nave stonework dates mainly from the 13th century, though the window
above the blocked-up south porch doorway is part of the 1839
restoration. The pews, lectern, pulpit and rood screen are of the
1888 restoration. The fontbowl is possibly 14th century
The west tower is entered through a door given in
memory of Thomas William Walwyn Trumper (Vicar, 1874-1924). The
Walwyns and their successors, the Trumpers, have held the advowson of
Clifford since 1536.
On the roof of the belfry are the
shields of four local families, the Penoyres, Cliffords, de Whitneys
and Walwyns. The belfry (not normally open to visitors) houses a peal
of eight bells. Four are the originals cast by William Evans of
Chepstow in 1736. The fifth bell of this peal was recast in 1897 and
the same year three more bells were given to commemorate Queen
Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
The creation of Hardwicke
the late 1840s the Penoyre family obtained permission to split Clifford
in two and create a new parish on the south side of the Bredwardine
road – namely the hamlets of Hardwicke, Middlewood, Broadmeadow, Newton
and Westbrook. Construction of Hardwicke church began in 1849 and
a separate parish was created in 1853.
Holy Trinity Church, Hardwicke
Trinity Church in Hardwicke serves the areas of Archenfield, Hardwicke
Green, Middlewood and Westbrook, although these remain part of the
civil parish of Clifford. The church was consecrated on 3rd September
1853 by the bishop of Hereford.
Holy Trinity Church, Hardwicke, in 1860.
Photo: Penoyre family records
roof in the nave, and the pews, were built with oak from The Moor
Estate, belonging to the Penoyre family. The Rev. W. T. Napleton
Stallard Penoyre became the first vicar of Hardwicke. On his death in
1856, Thomas William Webb took the ministry of the parish (see below).
Thomas William Webb
Reverend Thomas William Webb, born in 1806, was the only son of Revd
John Webb. Educated by his father before going to Magdalen Hall,
Oxford, he was ordained in Hereford Cathedral in 1830. Thomas married
Henrietta Montague Wyatt of Mitcheltroy, Monmouth in 1843. They had no
Thomas served in a number of parishes in the south of
Herefordshire, sometimes as curate to his father, as well as at
Gloucester Cathedral. In 1856 he became vicar of Hardwicke. He remained
there until his death in 1885.
Thomas Webb is most remembered
for his interest in astronomy and the meticulous observations that he
made from a small observatory in the garden of Hardwicke Vicarage. He
took a great interest in encouraging the younger generation to take up
astronomy and published many articles in popular scientific magazines
as well as writing books. Most notable of these was Celestial
Objects for Common Telescopes, which became a standard resource for
astronomers across the world until well into the 20th century.
hosted two railway lines in the second half of the 19th century and the
first half of the 20th century. The Hereford and Brecon Railway (1864 –
1962) served Whitney, while Clifford was on the Golden Valley Railway
Extension (1889-1949) from Dorstone to Hay.
The course of the
Golden Valley railway extension was from above Hay, across the Whitney
road at Grove Wood (where one side of the road bridge and embankment
can be seen), across the southern road up the hill to the church above
Upper and Lower Courts, on to Clifford station, which was by the
northern road to the church, and then round the hill, halfway up the
slope, in a right-handed curve.
There were three
stations within the parish, one in Clifford village, one at Westbrook,
and one at Pen-y-park Green’s Siding. The line of the track is easy to
see, and signals and station buildings were present within the memory
of all but the youngest residents of the parish. There was a siding at
Green Farm where the line ran under the Bredwardine road at Pen-y-park,
and where children were dropped off on their way to Clifford Primary
School. After Green’s Siding, the line passed under the Ross road just
past the former Royal Oak pub at Hardwicke. The train stopped at
Westbrook station before it went on to Dorstone and Pontrilas.
An in-depth description of the railways through Clifford is available in ‘The Golden Valley Railway’, written by WH Smith.
A train arriving at Westbrook Station, August 1932.
Photo: Mike Tom
diarist Francis Kilvert was born in 1840 and after school and
university helped his father Robert at Langley Burrell (near
Chippenham, Wilts.) until his ordination in 1864. His first
appointment was as curate of Clyro, just across the Wye from Hay, where
he remained from 1865 until returning to Langley Burrell in 1872, again
as his father's curate. In 1876 he was appointed to St Harmon
(near Rhayader) and upon the sudden death of John Houseman in 1877 was
appointed vicar of Bredwardine with Brobury in November of that year.
He died in September 1879, five weeks after his marriage, and only a
few days after returning to Bredwardine with his bride. His grave
is on the north side of Bredwardine church. His widow Elizabeth
lived until 1911 and is buried in the southwest corner of the newer
graveyard on the south side of the church.
the publication of the three edited volumes of his diaries in 1938,
three other parts of the diaries have been found and published.
In addition a biography and many other books and pamphlets concerning
his life and works have been published.
five or six of the original diary notebooks were destroyed by Mrs
Kilvert long before publication, and the remainder (except for three
which form the additional volumes referred to above) were destroyed
afterwards in the 1950s by his niece, the account is not continuous.
Therefore, although it is extremely likely that Kilvert visited
Clifford quite often, only the occasions mentioned in the diaries can
be set down with any certainty.
In the following extract, from 12th July, 1870, Kilvert describes a visit to Clifford Priory:
to Clifford Priory across the fields with Crichton and Barton. Bevan
and Morrell walked on before faster and got there before us. I had some
pleasant talk with Barton, who is a clever well-read man, about
Tennyson, Wordworth, Mr Monkhouse, the Holy Grail, and at last we got
to Clifford Priory, very hot, a few people out in the sun on the lawn,
and Lucy Allen came to meet us. A crowd in the drawing room drinking
claret cup iced and eating enormous strawberries. Gradually people
turned out on the lawn. Everyone about here is so pleasant and friendly
that we meet almost like brothers and sisters. Great fun on the lawn, 6
cross games of croquet and balls flying in all directions. High tea at
7.30 and croquet given up. More than 40 people sat down. Plenty of iced
claret cup, and unlimited fruit, very fine, especially the
tea we all strolled out into the garden and stood on the high terrace
to see the eclipse. It had just begun. The shadow was slowly steadily
stretching over the large bright moon and had eaten away a small piece
at the lower left side. It was very strange and solemn to see the
shadow stealing gradually on till half the moon was obscured. As the
eclipse went on the bright fragment of the moon seemed to change
colour, to darken and redden. We were well placed for seeing the
eclipse and the night was beautiful, and most favourable, not a cloud
in the way. We watched the eclipse till all that was left of the moon
was a point of brightness like a large three-cornered star. Then it
vanished altogether. Some people said they could discern the features
of the moon's face through the black shadow.
we strolled about in different groups and William Thomas and Crichton
ran a race up the steep slippery terrace bank. The ladies’ light
dresses looked ghostly in the dusk and at a little distance it was
almost impossible to tell which was a lady in a white dress and which
was a clump of tall white lilies.
� Penguin Books Ltd., 1977
the main industry in Clifford, apart from agriculture, is tourism,
driven by the neighbouring town of Hay-on-Wye’s bookshops and literary
festival. As everywhere in the country, farming is changing. Many farms
have diversified and traditional farm buildings are being redeveloped.
all the changes, Clifford’s population remains steady. There are few
empty houses in the parish, the community centre thrives with events,
there is an annual village show, and the primary school recently added
a fourth class. The Parish Plan process of 2006-7 found that people are
generally happy with life in Clifford, perhaps due to some of the same
attributes that attracted the original settlers six thousand years ago.
Sources and further information
Some of the information on these pages comes from local residents and is unreferenced. Known sources are as follows:
Alexander W Allison, Herbert Barrows, Caesar R Blake, Arthur J Carr, Arthur M Eastman, Hubert M English, Jr. (1970) Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, WW Norton and Co., Inc.
Kenneth R Clew (1982), Clifford, Herefordshire: a brief guide
Josephine Jeremiah (2004), A Pictorial History of the River Wye, Phillimore & Co. Ltd
Robert Francis Kilvert (1971) Kilvert's Diary, Jonathan Cape
Robert Francis Kilvert (1977) Kilvert's Diary: A Selection Edited and Introduced by William Plomer, Penguin Books Ltd.
JA Millardship and JF Morris, (1995) The history of Clifford School 1836-1986
John Marius Wilson (1870-72), Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales
Who's Who in British History, H. W. Wilson Company
Further research on families in Clifford
people visit this site looking for information about relatives and
family members who have lived in Clifford in the past. In addition to
the books mentioned above, a number of further sources of information
may help you:
- Herefordshire Council's Sites and Monuments Record contains a
great deal of information about Clifford's history, including the
remains of quarries, obelisks, mills, the
site of a second castle, a medieval deer park, a post-medieval tramway,
a couple of suspected henges, a deserted village in Castleton,
archaeological summaries of local buildings, and details of unearthed
discoveries at the castle such as a boar's tusk and wolf vertebrae.
Official records relating to families in Clifford are available from
the Herefordshire Records Office, tel. 01432 260750, or by e-mail.
- The Woolhope Club in Hereford
was founded in 1851 and has a large archive relating to local history,
archaeology and architecture of Herefordshire as well as natural
history and geology. The Club's records are available from Hereford
library on Thursdays.
- A local resident has reconstructed a
map of Clifford in c. 1840, based on tithe maps, showing lists of
landowners and field names. The map is available for a small fee, click here to e-mail the author.
- A number of farm surveys and old aerial photographs are available on the Clifford archive page. More (copyrighted) maps, farm surveys and old photographs are available from Dave at the address below.
- For a registration fee you can access censi, births & deaths, military records etc from 'Family Tree Maker 2008', available via www.ancestry.co.uk
Best of luck with your research.