Mordiford, Herefordshire

Extract from Littlebury's Directory and Gazetteer of Herefordshire, 1876-7
with Private and Commercial Residents

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2004


MORDIFORD (anciently Mordesford) is a parish and pleasant village situated on the old road from Hereford to Worcester, and on the river Lugg, about a quarter of a mile from its junction with the Wye. It is distant 4¼ miles E.S.E. of Hereford, 10 N. of Ross, and 11 W. of Ledbury; is in Greytree hundred, Hereford union, petty sessional division, and county court district, and Fownhope polling district. The population in 1861 was 691; in 1871, 608; inhabited houses, 151; families or separate occupiers, 164; area of parish, 1,478 acres; annual rateable value, £2,576. Richard Hereford, Esq., of Sufton court, is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The Right Hon. Lady Emily Foley, of Stoke Edith park, is lady of the manor of Prior's court, and also a landowner here. The soil on the western side of the hill is a red loam, and that on the eastern side a brown clay. There are large limestone quarries at Scutterdine in this parish, where numerous fossils are found. A considerable trade is carried on in timber, bark, &c., the neighbourhood being surrounded by extensive woods. The other principal crops grown here are hops, wheat, beans, fruit, and pasture.

The river Lugg, which the poet Drayton terms "more lovelie" than the Wye, is crossed by a massive stone bridge on entering the village, and adds greatly to the picturesque scenery of this locality. Mordiford is celebrated in traditional history as the scene of a furious combat between a winged serpent and a malefactor, who had been sentenced to die, but was promised his pardon on condition of destroying the wily monster. The contest was of some continuance, but was at last terminated by the destruction of the fell ravager, whose poisonous breath, however, proved fatal to the convict, and bereaved him of life in the moment of victory. In memory of this event, a large green dragon, with expanded wings and web-footed, was painted on the west end of the parish church. It is thus described by a local poet:-

"Who has not heard - of Herefordian birth -
Who has not heard, as winter evenings lag on,
The tale of awe to some - to some of mirth -
Of Mordiford's most famous huge great dragon?
Who has not seen the figure on its church,
At western end outspread to all beholders,
Where leaned the beggar-pilgrim on his crutch,
And asked its meaning - body, head, and shoulders
There still we see the place, and hear the tale,
Where man and monster fought for life and glory;
No one can righteously the fact assail,
For even the church itself puts it before ye."

Mordiford is in the diocese and archdeaconry of Hereford and rural deanery of Ross; living, a rectory; value, £310, with residence and 14 acres of glebe; patroness, the Lady Emily Foley; rector, Rev. Robert Hereford, M.A., of St. John's College, Oxford, who was instituted in 1875. The earliest register is dated 1621. The church (name of patron saint unknown) is an ancient edifice with nave, chancel, south transept (rebuilt in 1852), porch, and square tower containing five bells. It was completely restored and a new north aisle and vestry added in 1869, at a cost of £1,771; architect, F.R. Kempson, Esq., F.I.B.A., of Hereford. The east window is of stained glass (by Gibbs, of London), the gift of the Hereford family; it is of three light and contains tastefully-executed representations of the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension of our Lord. The transept contains a memorial window to Harriet, eldest daughter of Richard Hereford, Esq., of Sufton court. Here is an ancient monument, above which is an effigy kneeling in prayer, and on which is the following inscription:-

To ye memory of MARGARET,
Daughter of William Vaughan, of Courte Field, in ye County of Monmouth, Gent.,
And ye late Wife and Widdow of Will Brydges, of Upleadon,
In ye Parish of Bosbury, in ye County of Hereford, Gent.,
Who died at her prayers in ye form as you see her porttrature, in Lorports Court,
Uppon ye 14th day of April, 1655, aged 80 years."

In the chancel is a tablet bearing the signature of a former rector, the Rev. Charles J. Bird, M.A., F.S.A., which gives the following account:- "On Monday, the 27th of May, 1811, between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m., the village of Mordiford was visited by a tremendous storm of thunder, lightning, wind, and rain, by which the little river Pentaloe was swollen in some places to an extent of 180 feet in width, with a depth of 20 feet. In passing the village, it swept away a large barn and cider-mill, and a cottage adjoining, when William Husbands, miller, Ann Evans, his niece, Elizabeth Greenly, widow, and her infant child, Jemima, were drowned just above the said village, on the road leading to Woolhope. Many hundred tons of rock were blown up and carried through the said village, by which several of the houses of the inhabitants were much injured, and the gardens nearly destroyed. A subscription was promoted for the principal sufferers, and a sum of £80 was collected and distributed among them, in proportion to their respective losses."

An excellent school, to accommodate 130 children, was erected in 1873 on a site given by Richard Hereford, Esq. The cost of building (about £1,340) was defrayed by Captain R.J. Hereford; architect, F.R. Kempson, Esq. The school is under the management of a committee, and has a certificated master. Children from the adjoining parishes of Hampton Bishop and Fownhope are allowed to attend this school. There is also an infant school. There are a few small charities belonging to the parish. Upon an eminence adjoining the village is Sufton Court, the seat of Richard Hereford, Esq., J.P., D.L., and Captain Richard James Hereford, J.P., D.L. The present mansion is of Bath stone, erected at the latter end of the 18th century, a few hundred yards from the site of the old house; the grounds are tastefully laid out, and command some beautiful and extensive prospects. Sufton has been the residence of the ancient family of Hereford from the beginning of the reign of Henry III. Blount's MSS. record that the Hereford family held this manor by the service of presenting the king with a pair of gilt spurs whenever he should ride over Mordiford bridge. Froome hamlet is distant 1 mile N.; Checkley is distant 2 miles N.E.

POSTAL REGULATIONS.- Mrs. Ann Prosser, Sub-Postmistress. Letters arrive by messenger from Hereford at 8.40 a.m.; despatched thereto at 4.50 p.m. Fownhope is the nearest money order office. Hereford is the nearest telegraph office and post town.
Parish Church.- Rev. Robert Hereford, M.A., Rector; Captain Richard James Hereford and Mr. Richard F. Vevers, Churchwardens; Thomas Hooper, Parish Clerk; Alfred Meek, Organist.
National School (boys and girls).- Mr. Alfred Meek, Master; Miss Elizabeth Terry, Infants' Mistress.
Carrier to Hereford.- Thomas Halford, the Fownhope carrier, passes through the village occasionally.


Hereford Richard, Esq., J.P., D.L. (chairman of the magistrates for Hereford division), Sufton court
Hereford Captain Richard James, J.P., D.L., Sufton court
Hereford Rev. Robert, M.A. (rector), The Rectory
Hereford Miss L., Mordiford house
Apperley Jas., frmr. & shopkpr., The Clouds
Badham Robert, plumber, painter, &c., New house, Froome
Bailey Luke, carpenter, Froome
Bailey Thomas, carpenter, Froome
Barrell Edwin, farmer, Cockshote
Barrett Thomas, miller and dairy farmer, Mordiford mill
Biggs Thomas, mason, Village
Davies John, farmer, Froome
Goodman James, Moon Inn
Griffiths Richard, beer retailer (Bell)
Hankins Mrs., Backbury
Hooper Thos., shoemaker and parish clerk
Huff Mrs., beer retailer, Froome
Humphreys Richard, farmer, Checkley
Lewis Mrs. Francis, shopkeeper, Village
Love James, farmer
Meek AIfred, master of National school and organist of the parish church
Morgan Joseph, thatcher and cot. farmer
Parker Mrs. S., builder, Froome
Perkins Mrs. Ann, laundress, Village
Pitt Peter, farmer and hop grower, Orchard farm, Sufton
Price J.B., head grdnr. to R. Hereford, Esq.
Prosser Mrs. Ann, shopkeeper and sub-postmistress
Sexty William George, farmer and hop grower, Old Sufton
Shepherd John, tailor, Backbury
Stephens John, market gardener
Taylor William, blacksmith, Village
Terry Miss Elizabeth, schoolmistress
Townsend Thomas, farmer, Waresley
Treen John, haulier
Vevers Richd. F., frmr. & hop gr., Larport ct.
Weaver Mrs. Emma, beer rtlr., Checkley
Williams John, farmer, Froome

OCR/Transcription by Rosemary Lockie in June 2004.

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