Stoke Prior, Herefordshire

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

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2002


STOKE PRIOR is a village and large parish containing the places above named, and situated near the river Lugg, between the main roads from Leominster to Hereford and from Leominster to Bromyard. It is distant 2½ miles S.E. of Leominster, 11 N. of Hereford, 10 W. of Bromyard, and 24 W. of Worcester; is in Wolphy hundred, Leominster union, petty sessional division, and county court district, and Docklow polling district. The Shrewsbury and Hereford railway runs through a portion of the parish; the nearest station is at Fordbridge. The population in 1861 was 448; in 1871, 512; inhabited houses, 110; families or separate occupiers, 115; area of parish, 2,578a. 2r. 24p.; annual rateable value, £3,667. John Hungerford Arkwright, Esq., of Hampton court, who is lord of the manor, Mrs. James, of Hereford, and Captain Edward Nicholas Heygate, R.E., of Buckland, are the principal landowners. Mrs. Baylis, Mrs. Knill, Mr. William Gatehouse, and Mr. James T. Carpenter, are also landowners here. The soil is a rich loam; subsoil, clay and gravel; chief produce, wheat, barley, hops, fruit, and excellent pasture.

Stoke Prior is in the diocese and archdeaconry of Hereford and rural deanery of Leominster; living, a vicarage, consolidated with that of Docklow; net value about £150, with residence and 23 acres of glebe; patron, the Vicar of Leominster; vicar, Rev. Henry Cooper, M.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, who was instituted in 1853. The vicar has a claim, unknown elsewhere in England, called "Trug Wheat". It was originally paid to the vicar of Leominster for officiating at the chapels of ease at Stoke and Docklow. The church (St. Luke's) was originally Norman, with the exception of the chancel. It was restored and partly rebuilt in 1862-63 of stone, with Bath stone dressings, and is now a handsome structure in the Decorated style, with nave, chancel, and square embattled tower containing three bells. The floor is laid with Godwin's encaustic tiles; the old roof has been replaced, and forms a striking feature, showing the rafters, and is especially memorable as having been erected during the protectorate of Cromwell, 1658; the pulpit is of stone, richly carved and decorated.

The cost of restoration was about £1,365. The chancel has more recently undergone restoration, by raising the roof, and inserting a new four-light east window, a north lancet with credence and piscina, and the reinstating of the two lancets on the south side; all these windows being filled in with coloured glass of appropriate design, by Messrs. Heaton, Butler, & Bayne. There is also a handsome stained glass window (by Clayton & Bell) in memory of the family of Admiral Watling. A school board has been recently formed for this parish, and new school buildings for 80 children are about to be erected, and the old school converted into a teacher's residence. Messrs. Haddon, of Hereford and Malvern, are the architects to the board.

Wickton is a hamlet in this parish. Risbury is a hamlet partly in this parish and partly in Humber. Here are vestiges of a large camp, forming one of a continued chain of encampments, crossing this county in a N.E. direction. A spacious tract of land, once common, but now enclosed, and called Blackwardine, is supposed to have been the site of a British fortified town, named Black-Caer-Dun. A laborious research of dusty records, and of manuscripts almost illegible, failed of producing a single document or memorial by which the authenticity of this generally-received opinion could be verified and confirmed; yet some attestations, more solid and important than a vague report, can be adduced in favour of the tradition.

Several Roman coins of Romulus and Remus suckled by a wolf, of Augustus Caesar, Trajan, Constantine, &c., cast in copper, silver, and gold; numerous pieces of pottery, bones of men and animals, and numberless other relics, have been found upon the spot; its soil is of a much darker hue than that of which the adjacent fields are composed, and justifies the propriety of the epithet, Black; its situation is upon a branch of the Roman military road, which intersected this county in a northern direction, passing Frome Hill, Stretton-Grandison, Lug Bridge, Bodenham, Black-Caer-Dun, Stretford, Cwmfort, near Stockton, Luston, Caer-Rhos, Ambury, and joining the Watling Street road at Wigmore;; its British appellation, Caer-Dun, signifies a fortified eminence, or a fortified town upon an eminence.

All these circumstances combined together seem to affix a shape of credibility to the notion that this was a Roman station, used either as a summer camp or as a military position, which presented the nearest, if not the only point of attacking, with advantage, the British entrenchments at Risbury or on Brierley hill, and of preventing either of these posts from detaching succour or assistance to the other. In executing each of these attacks, it was necessary to ford a river, either Humber on the one side or Lugg on the other - the former indeed an inconsiderable river, presenting few obstacles to the march of an army, except when flooded from the adjacent hills; the latter capable, by care, of impeding the progress of an invader; and both subject to great and frequent variations in their depths and impetuosity, according to the proportion of rain and dissolved snow received into their respective channels.

This description of the situation and circumstances of a Roman station that has hitherto escaped the researches of the antiquary, and eluded the notice of the historian, strikingly corresponds with the account given by Tacitus, and tends to confirm that the intention of that concise but expressive writer, in describing the campaigns of Caractacus, was not so much to ascertain the site of his last but unsuccessful struggle for national independence, as some late authors have asserted, with indeed modest hesitation, as to delineate the prominent feature of that patriotic warrior's choice of position, the distinguishing feature of which was to place the rivers of the district between him and the line of march of his enemies. For a gentle eminence, Black-Caer-Dun commands a view of an extensive range of variegated country; to the south, Hampton park and Dinmore woods; in the horizon, to the north, are the Clee hills of Shropshire; and westward the town and church of Leominster, surrounded by rich meadows and blooming orchards, and a most fertile tract of country bounded by the distant mountains of Brecon and Radnor.

POSTAL REGULATIONS.- Mrs. Sarah Reynolds, Sub-Postmistress. Letters arrive by messenger from Leominster at 7.40 a.m.; despatched thereto at 5.15 p.m. Letters can be registered here. Leominster is the nearest money order and telegraph office and post town.
Parish Church (St. Luke's).- Rev. Henry Cooper, M.A., Vicar; Mr. James Thomas Carpenter, Churchwarden; John Samson Went, Sexton.
Board School (boys and girls).- Mr. William Burton, Master.
Stoke Prior School Board.- Edwin Gregg, Esq., 9 Broad street, Leominster. Clerk to the Board.


Baylis Mrs. Richard, The Luce
Bodys Mr. John, Old hall
Carpenter Mr. James Thos., The Castle
Cooper Rev. Henry, M.A. (vicar of Stoke Prior with Docklow, incumbent of
Marston Stannett, and chaplain to Leominster union), The Vicarage
Gatehouse Mr. William, The Heath
Knill Mrs. Margaret, Drum Leigh
Vaughan Miss Charlotte, The Court
Wood Mr. Gilbert, Croft gate
Baylis Mrs. Richard, farmer, The Luce
Bazley John, farmer, The Bury farm; and at Stone farm, Ford
Bemand Robert, farmer and hop grower, Upper house; and New house farm, Humber
Brace Thomas, farmer, Wall end farm
Burton William, master of Board school
Carpenter Jas. Thos., farmer, Castle farm
Colley Mrs. Elizabeth, frmr., The Slough
Colley James, farmer, New Maidenhead, Risbury
Evans William, Lamb Inn
Galliers Geo., horse breaker, Dingle cot.
Gatehouse William, farmer and hop grower, The Heath
Godfrey William Kenelm, farmer and hop grower, Great house
Green John, farmer, The Witsets
Green William, farmer, Brierley mere
Griffiths John, wheelwright and blksmith.
Griffiths Thomas, farmer, Hill top
Griffiths William, blacksmith, Village
Grubham Philip, Swan Inn, & gardener
Holt Thos., cottage farmer, Holly wall
Knill Mrs. Margaret, frmr., Drum Leigh
Lambert Henry Caswell, miller and farmer, Risbury court farm and mill
Lambert John, plumber and glazier
Lane Ephraim, farmer, Broadstone; and at Glebe farm, Humber
Lea Thomas, farmer, Holly wall
Lloyd Geo., farmer, New house, Risbury
Morris John; tailor, Little Wickton
Poulton Mrs. Eliza, frmr., top of Village
Pugh John, provision dealer and butcher
Reynolds Mrs. Sarah, sub-postmistress
Saw William, shoema., Endfield, Risbury
Smith George, farmer; res., Etnam street, Leominster
Smith John, farm bailiff for J.H. Arkwright, Esq., J.P., D.L., Hill Hole fm.
Staples John, farmer, Turningways
Vaughan Charles, farmer and hop grower, Wickton court
Vaughan Miss Charlotte, frmr., Court fm.
Wadeley William, tailor, Risbury
Watkins Joseph,wheelwright,&c., Steen's bridge
Watkins Wm., blacksmith, Risbury cross
Went John Samson, shoemaker and parish sexton

OCR/Transcription by Rosemary Lockie in October 2002.

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