About Fownhope

Fownhope is a village in south-east Herefordshire, between Hereford city (7 miles to the west), Ross-on-Wye (9 miles to the south) and the market town of Ledbury (11 miles to the east). Fownhope Parish extends to Mordiford in the north, Woolhope in the east, Ballingham and Brockhampton with Fawley in the south and is bounded by the River Wye to the west.

Topographically, the village lies in a natural shallow basin, just above the River Wye floodplain to the West, and bounded by the Woolhope Dome, a circular outcrop of limestone to the northeast, with Capler Hill, Marcle Ridge and associated hills to the east and south..  

Commercially, the main activity is farming, both arable and livestock, and there is also some equestrian activity.  There is a wide range of small businesses, including pubs, restaurants, electricians, home and garden services, IT companies, marketing consultants, solar energy suppliers, several bed and breakfast establishments, a shop/post office, a forge, butchers, chimney sweep, leisure centre, a caravan park and canoe hire centre and a farm shop. A number of residents work from home.  

Historically, Fownhope has a rich heritage, that stretches back to Domesday, The parish church of St Mary contains a very fine Romanesque tympanum, created in the C12 by craftsmen of the Herefordshire School. The village’s situation on the banks of the Wye has made it a popular venue for visitors and walkers ever since the late C18 when Gilpin championed the notion of the Picturesque. More recently, the Club Walk held every June continues to celebrate the achievements of the Heart of Oak, a pioneering C19 friendly society based in the village

Culturally, the village is a vibrant and cohesive community, with a good balance between commercial, residential and environmental activities and requirements.  The church of St Mary’s is a prominent village feature, and is well supported by the Parochial Church Council and the community, with its own rector.  There is a good mixture of local families that have lived in the village for many generations, and relatively recent ‘in-comers’ from many parts of the country.  There is a wide variety of clubs and other activities, both sports and social, which provide excellent opportunities for leisure entertainment and the village has developed a strong culture of supporting causes and fundraising.  However, there is a need for more youth activities.  

Architecturally, the village has a wide variety of structures – stone, brick and timber houses, bungalows and farm buildings, ancient and modern, and steel barns and workshops.  There are a few listed buildings and a conservation area around the older part of the village.    

Services and facilities in the village are good, with a primary school, retailers as described above, a medical centre, active church as above, milk deliveries, postman and waste collection, a library and a local fire station with retained fire-fighters.  Facilities include the Memorial Hall, where many of the clubs and organisations meet, the Recreational Playing Field, with its Pavilion, where many sports and outdoor activities are held, the Leisure Centre, a restaurant/hotel, a pub, a caravan park with canoe hire, and the surrounding public access countryside.  A farmers’ market is held every month, Hereford and Ross provide a wide range of shops, and household waste disposal is available in Rotherwas. Main utilities include electricity, water, gas and sewerage, though these last two are only available within the village itself. Landline telephone is reasonable, but mobile phone reception is poor and patchy - though Vodafone reception is fairly good along the main road of the village. Superfast broadband was introduced to the village in 2015 and this has improved things significantly for those who work from home or who want to stream movies etc.

Demographically, the 2011 census results available at the time of writing showed Fownhope Parish to have 999 residents, with 192 children and youths up to age 19, 152 between 20 and 39, 268 between 40 and 59, 317 aged between 60 and 79, and 70 aged 80+.  At this time, no census results were available for occupations and other demographic aspects of the parish, but from statistics for the “Fownbishop” neighbourhood, the population density is very low, at about 0.4 people per hectare, compared with 0.8 for the county as a whole.

Ecologically, the village is surrounded by farmland and woodland, with meadows along the riverside, supporting a wide variety of bird species, both indigenous and migratory. The many orchards that used to exist are steadily declining, but the overall natural environment is protected by its status within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Streams issue from the surrounding hills and run through the village, which bring minor floods at times of heavy rain.  There is little or no gaseous or particulate pollution, although light pollution is becoming more apparent.  Aircraft noise is minimal, although low-flying military movements can be very disturbing for some.

Administratively, Fownhope is in what is called by Herefordshire Council the “Fownbishop Lower Layer Super Output Area of the Backbury Ward". People who live here seldom describe it quite like that! The area includes Fownhope Parish, Mordiford and Hampton Bishop.  

Transport in and around the village is predominantly by private vehicle. Railway connections are at Hereford and Ledbury and the bus service to and from Hereford runs every day; connections from Hereford bus station are good, around the county and to the national networks.  Another service runs through the village on its way from Mordiford to Ross and back, every second Thursday of each month, and recently a service has started to Ledbury and back, on the last Friday of the month during Summer months only. The B4224, a well-used road from the south (Ross, Gloucester, Forest of Dean areas) to Hereford and to the north and east (Leominster, Worcester, etc), runs through the middle of the village and carries considerable through traffic, as well as local movements.  Village roads also have to cope with a substantial amount of farm machinery, transiting between the various farm holdings, traffic to medical services and the school; the successful Leisure Centre and the new Ladyridge work units generate much traffic from outside the village.  Many public footpaths and bridleways exist, giving easy access to the surrounding countryside but there are few roadside pathways outside the village, so foot and cycle usage is low for those travelling to and from work,

In summary, Fownhope provides a very pleasant place in which to live and work.  It is a relatively peaceful and quiet part of rural England, within reasonable striking reach of services and national routings.  The village has vibrant culture, which attracts many people, and house prices are, correspondingly, higher than most of the county.

Taken from Fowhope's Community Led Plan 2013
You can read more about the plan here.