Fownhope has developed over the centuries along an ancient route leading from Hereford to Gloucester, at a place where the river Wye could be conveniently crossed. The large parish extends from the banks of the Wye, across the wooded hills of West Wood, Fownhope Park and Cherry Hill topped with the site of an Iron Age hill fort, and up the slopes of Haugh Wood. The parish also includes the settlement on Common Hill and the delightful Rudge End valley, birthplace of Tom Winter who under the name Spring became England's Barenuckle Champion in 1823. Fownhope's name is derived from Old English meaning 'valley of the flag' or possibly 'variegated valley'.
At Doomsday Fownhope was held by Thorkell White and granted by Hugh Donkey to the church of Lyre in Normandy. It consisted of 15 hides, 28 ploughs, 14 villagers, 10 smallholders, 26 slaves, two priests, a reeve, smith and carpenter plus a church, mill and three fisheries. The handsome church is dedicated to St. Mary and although restored in 1881 features a l2th century tympanum, l3th century windows, a l4th century broach spire, medieval chest and rediscovered fonts of the l7th and l8th centuries. A detailed history of St. Mary's is available from the church, and the parish registers dating back to 1560 may be examined at Hereford Record Office. The manor of Fownhope passed from the Berkeleys to the Chandos family in the l3th century and was later purchased by Sir William Gregory in 1660, but the Court was sold to the Lechmeres who remained there until the 20th century. From the l8th century Fowmhope prospered from its rural industries of brewing, milling, tanning, farming and lime burning with an assortment of trades people working as carpenters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, stone masons, wood dealers, coal merchants, victuallers, saddlers and drapers. The Wye provided employment for boat builders, bargemen, wharfingers, fishermen and ferrymen who operated boats across the river at Mancell's Ferry Leabrink, Fownhope Ferry Lechmere Ley and Even Pits. The later replaced by a toll bridge in 1858 was later rebuilt in 1973. Remains of these bygone industries include a brewery site at Rock House, crumbling lime kilns and overgrown quarries on the slopes of West Wood and Common Hill, and the former mills of Nupend and Pentaloe. The names of Tan House and Bark House serve as a reminder of the tanning industry and footpaths still lead to the sites of the ferry crossings.
Surviving shops and inns provide a lively features of this village which has recently expanded on lands belonging to Scotch Firs, Manor Farm and Fownhope Court. Attractive timber framed, stone or brick houses and cottages line the old Hereford and Gloucester highway turnpiked by the Hereford and Gloucester Trust in 1726 and maintained by the Hereford Trustees from 1730 to 1868. Fownhope Court identified by its gables and ornate chimneys dates from the Jacobean period with some remains indicating an earlier building. The Green Man Inn claims to date from the l5th century and its interesting history is depicted on an interior mural, although much altered the inn retains many original features.