The Olivers Herefordshire Homepage-Aspects of Local History>
ASPECTS of The HISTORY of the County of Herefordshire

This area was occupied by the British tribes the Silures and Dobuni, who raised many earthworks particuarly against the Romans. By the end of the first century, conquered by the Romans, the district was thinly populated and had only 3 villages, Kenchester, Weston under Penyard and Leintwardine. There were 3 villas at Bishopstone, Putley and Stretton Grandison.

By 584 east Herefordshire was settled by the English and became part of Mercia. A synod at Hereford in 680 led to the County taking the name Herefordshire soon after.

Offa the Great, King of Mercia (755-794), built the great wall-Offa's Dyke in 779, from Chester to the Wye, beyond which if any Welshman was found, his right hand was cut off.

In 819, the Danes conqurered Mercia but then after the battle of Ellandune in 823, some of the area fell under the control of West Saxon kings, so this troubled county not only had to keep the Welsh at bay but was also under the English, Danish and later Norman warlords. Being a frontier county on the Welsh Marches has left us with many inspiring, fortified remains such as Goodrich, Clifford, Wilton and Grosmont Castles.

The Britons called Hereford 'Caer-ffawydd' which means 'The Town of the Beech Trees' while 'Hereford' means 'the Ford of the Army'. Hence there is possibly a mistranslation in the conception of the name.

In the middle of the 11th century, Gryffyth, the then Welsh sovereign burnt the cathedral to the ground when he routed Ranulph, the governor of Herefords' forces.
(The cathedral was huge, having been errected in contrition by King Offa of Mercia, when his wife, with Offa's consent, ordered the murder of King Ethelbert of the East Angles.)
Edward the Confessor, then in Gloucester sent Harold, son of the Earl of Godwin, to subdue the Welsh. Harold did so and returned to rebuild Hereford's defences and castle.
The present cathedral rebuilding was started by Robert de Lotharingia in 1079 and was based on the polygonal basilica in Aix-la-Chappelle built by Charlemagne.

The city was incorporated by a charter of Richard I on October 9, 1189.

On the second of Febuary 1461, The Battle of Mortimer's Cross was fought in the parish of Aymestry, between Edward, The Duke of York (later Edward IV) and the Lancastrians under the Earls of Pembroke and Wiltshire. The latter being totally defeated and Owen Tudor was beheaded the same day in Hereford.

In 1645/1646 the City was taken by The Royalists but Sir William Waller won it back later in 1646 for The Parlimentarians. The castle in Hereford was never rebuilt after this period and fell into disrepair and was slowly demolished.

'Many people of considerable repute and fame are claimed to have been born,lived and died in Herefordshire.
Including: Nell Gwynn(1640-1687) friend to the Charles 11, born in 1640 on Gwynn Street and David Garrick(1716-1779), actor, born at the Raven hotel or Angel Inn in Widemarsh Street in 1716. Also Alfred Watkins (1855-1935), photographer and author of The Old Straight Track, the study of ley lines.
Click on Thumbnail for Alfred Watkins Photographs


Herefordshire is rural shire county, hilly with green fields and hopyards and apple orchards with the River Wye flowing through it. Based mostly on Old Red Sandstone which decomposes to a strong, reddish hued, loamy, fertile soil. The lower beds of red marl have layers of impure limestone called cornstones, where these occur they give rise to some of the best orcharding land.

The shire has been predominately agricultural, consisting of very small farms and smallholdings. From the Agricultural returns of 1933 it can be seen that of the 6,527 agricultural holdings- 4,104 (63%) were under 50 acres, 2,225 (34%) were between 50 and 300 acres and only 198 (3%) were above 300 acres. Of the 450,000 acres on these holdings, some 320,000 acres (71%) was permanent pasture.

Therefore a picture of a county with many small, fragmented, family farms all with livestock, was evident prior to the second world war.

ASPECTS of The HISTORY of the Manor of Ocle Pychard and Ocle Court

The village of Ocle Pychard lies midway between Hereford and Bromyard and was formerly in the Broxash hundred.
According to John Duncomb in his 'History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford', published in 1812, 'Acle', as it was spelt, belonged to the church of Worcester.
During King Canute's reign Acle was taken from the church and then as a result of the Norman conquest granted to ROGER de LACI and there is a notice in the Survey of Domesday, to this effect.

Acle would be derived from the Saxon 'Ac' which signified oak-possibly the word was extended to describe a 'ring of oaks' or 'grove' or 'clearing in the oak wood'. 'Pychard' is derived from the family name of ROGER PICHARD (Picardie) , who was mentioned in the Book of Fees in the reign of Henry III (1207-1272) and held the estate for a period.
Pichard is also old french for 'green woodpecker'.
A JOHN PICHARD was vicar of Ocle Pychard in 1466.
It is suggested that Pitcherd is derived from an ancestor of Sir Roger's called Sir Miles de Picarde, a Senlac knight, who helped Sir Bernard Newmarch conquer Brecknock, and thereby secured great estates in the Marches.
A Sir Roger Picard owned the manor in 1222, according to 'The Family of Picard or Pychard' London 1878.

Sir Thomas Clavowe was a knight of Welsh descent and he held the manors of Ocle Picard, Cusop, Hergest and Yazor from the Mortimer, Earl of March. Reputed to be soldier, poet and intellectual and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. He was captured along with Edmund Mortimer, uncle to the 11 year old Earl of March, by Owain Glyndwr's army at The battle of Pilleth in 1402. His marcher lands were destroyed and he received an annuity for life from King Henry IV, as compensation. He later followed John Wyclif and became a Lollard.

After the death of Sir Thomas Clavowe the manor probably passed to his son, before it then became held by the WHITNEYS as early as 1428. 'OCLE PITCHERD' is one of eight manors owned by Sir Robert Whitney when he died on August 5th 1567 and was taxed for 'one Knight's fee late of John Clanbowe in Ocle Picard' and on his death the manor of Ocle Pitcherd descended to his son and heir, one James Whitney.

The connection with the Whitney family was resumed recently when Mary Lou Whitney (now Ericcson) visited Ocle Court and kindly showed us the relevant details in the privately funded and published book on the Whitney family.

The manor was then held by The Chamberlayne family, given in deeds, from 1695.
Then the Walwyn family until in 1732, when Ocle Pitchard was given by Mr.Walwyn as a dower for his daughter Margaret, on her marriage to Morgan Graves.
From manuscript notes by William Morris, Ocle Court was in the hands of a William Graves in 1774.
In 1816 the estate passed to James Gill.
In 1832 to J.L.Brett.
At some stage Ocle Court was owned by Lt. Colonel Thomas Heywood whose wife founded the St. George Home for orphan girls, now The Orphanage.
From 1851 the Postlethwaite family were the owners until in 1890 Ocle Court was purchased by George Cresswell (our great grandfather).

George Cresswell was Chairman of the County Council, a Justice of the Peace, and initiated The Cresswell Penny fund to build the County Hospital in Hereford.

The present house of Ocle Court itself dates from and has a Georgian front. The S.E. wing is timber framed and has 2 roof trusses c.1600. George Gill was responsible for the removal of the wine cellars under the great hall at the front and after much soil removal and excavation, built the present state rooms. These were again renovated in 1890 to 1893.

The oldest house in the village is The White House, there are records of a dwelling dating from Norman times. The present building dates from the late 1500's.
The church is dedicated to Saint James and was initially built in the 1200's but was completely restored in 1869.
Castleton (from the Latin castra meaning camp) was built as a fortified residence with a moat but is now a farmhouse dating from 1800's.
Lyvers Ocle was built in the 1600's, on the site of a cell of the Benedictine Abbey of Lire in Normandy dating from Norman times.
Hillhampton and Monkton were both built in the mid 1600's.

Burley Gate Inn, sadly, now a private dwelling, was built in the late 1600's and some original timber remains in the west gable. It was complete with it's own commercial cider house.

It is also worth bearing in mind that we are all still very grateful round here for the arrival of electricity in 1956 and mains water in 1965.

The Farm Olivers's Cider and Perry Aspects of Local History The English Experience Tour Management and Live Sound

Back To The Oliver's Herefordshire Homepage