A brief tour of Herefordshire in the footsteps of Wilford Woodruff (cont).
Bishop John ROWBERRY's parents were married in the parish church of Bishops Frome. Here too he and all his brothers and sisters were baptised, except his youngest brother, Edward, who was born about 1838. It is likely that by this time the family had already become Non-Conformist. The church is in the middle of the village, which is today large and thriving.
Here I stopped at the Chase Inn for a traditional Sunday lunch of roast lamb. This inn is interesting because it was only opened in the last century to cope with the influx of people into the area during Hop-picking. Even today the area is studded with hop-yards.
The next village down the road is Canon Frome. Here is Hill Farm, which is where Wilford WOODRUFF first stayed when he came to Herefordshire. He had travelled from Dudley with the brother of the tenant, who was John BENBOW. Today the farmhouse appears little changed, although modern bungalows lie to one side of the long drive from the road. Many of those converted by Wilford Woodruff were baptised in a pool on this farm.
The road from the Midlands comes into Herefordshire at this point down a long steep hill, known as Fromes Hill. At the top is an old Non-Conformist chapel, at present being converted into a house. Across the road is a pond that was also used by Wilford Woodruff for baptisms.
The pond today is bisected by a fence, allowing animals on both sides access for drinking. When I visited it was so wet and miserable even the ducks were sitting forlornly on the side!
It was here on 21st June 1840 that John Rowberry was baptised by Wilford Woodruff.
Leaving here I went on to Bosbury, where I had been invited to call on another member of the MIDMARCH email list to which I belong. During my visit he remarked that he had a copy of a Field Name Survey for Bosbury based on the tithe award for Bosbury, prepared in 1840. Knowing that John ROWBERRY had been living in Bosbury parish in the 1841 census, I asked him if I could check the schedule to see if they were there in 1840. How excited I was to discover that they were, and to be able to identify their house with accuracy from the accompanying map. When I left I went straight there, needless to say. Again I found that the building which was two cottages in 1840, tenanted by John ROWBERRY and Richard HILL, has been converted into one home today. At that time they were both owned by Richard BADHAM. As the light was failing the picture that I took then was not as good as it might have been. On my last visit, in late May, I was able to take another one, which I have used to replace it. Note that the trees are now in leaf and the weather is bright and sunny! You will see that the cottage lies back from the road today, although in the past it was probably accessed from the track which now runs along the left hand side of the garden. Note the freshly cultivated field to the right showing the wonderful red soil of Herefordshire.
This now brings me to the end of my day; from here I went on to Hereford to spend four days in the record office there. But I would like to close with this view of the Malvern Hills taken on my way to Bosbury.
I hope that you have enjoyed this tour as much as I did!
Last revised: 9th November 2000
© Polly Rubery 1999