The Pulleys



Four figures have dominated the Eaton Bishop scene during the past 100 years. Two of them were the Rectors, the Rev. Charles Burrough and the Rev. Kildare O’Neill; the other two were Sir Joseph and his heir Sir Charles Pulley, who, though they were never so in name, acted as “squires” of the village for nearly 80 years.

The Pulleys came from the south, belonging to a family which, on Sir Charles’ death, had had an unbroken record of 145 years on the London Stock Exchange. The first was a Joseph Pulley who was Master of the Wax Chandlers’ Company which he first joined in l802.

He was the grandfather of the Joseph Pulley who was born in Bayswater in 1822, went to Hackney Grammar School and afterwards on to ‘Change. He married, at 38, Mary Jane Burgess, sister of John P. Burgess, a Royal Academician and six years later - in 1866 - brought her to Lower Eaton, a red brick mansion on the bank of the Wye which he had bought from Mr G. Percival Smith.

At once he set about fulfilling the picture of a typical mid-Victorian squire. He rebuilt part of the house, had gardens elaborately laid out and began to collect art treasures. His pictures, though no doubt highly regarded in their day, do not, by 1955 standards, appear from their descriptions to have been particularly noteworthy, though he did have a very fine collection of Dresden and Sevres china, some good ivories and several fine pieces of antique furniture.

He added to the estate by buying the White House Farm and Manor House from Richard Snead Cox, who it will be remembered, had left there in l85l.

Plants from his greenhouses were used for 12 years in succession to decorate the Shirehall for Hunt Club Balls.

Once the whole collection, worth £50, was killed en route by frost, but he merely ordered more to be brought.

Though he spent only part of the year at Lower Eaton he rode to hounds and was host to the North Hereford Hunt several times when champagne breakfasts were held. He fished regularly and in 1869 landed a 50 pounder from Hoff Pool on the estate. The grounds were open to the public for several days each summer, the Church Lads’ Brigade camped there and it was the scene of many village celebrations - Sunday School treats, Harvest Homes and the Jubilees.

After only 16 years of marriage, his wife died. There had been no children.

Lane Head, the home farm, rapidly developed into an establishment famous not only for prize-winning crops but for its herd of Shropshire sheep and later of Pedigree Herefords. Sir Joseph twice paid £250 for rams to improve his herd and among the Herefords was a bull, Protector, who in 1900 was first at shows at Shrewsbury, Winchester, Hereford and Worcestershire and finally at the Royal in Birmingham. He was bought for £1,200 by a Mr Dave of Indiana - a price which was then a record.

In politics Sir Joseph was a Liberal, and at his third attempt was elected to Parliament in 1880, being re-elected in 1885 and in the following year carrying through a Bill, “The Married Woments Maintenance in case of Desertion” Act, He lost his seat in 1893 but in the Birthday Honours List of that year - Gladstone being Prime Minister - was created a Baronet.

It was of the 1893 defeat that Edgar Davies tells this tale. “The result was not to be declared until about noon; a man was sent to Hereford on a pony to get the result and was to hurry back to Perry Hill where another man was waiting with orders to blow a horn for all he was worth. In the meantime, men and women erected a couple of arches with evergreens, one half way between the farm and the other at the Lodge gates. Others hung fairy lamps along the railings in front of Lower Eaton.”

“Everyone was waiting to hear the blast from the horn, but around 3 o’clock the two men were seen walking together down the hill; when they arrived it was to learn that Sir Joseph had been beaten. Still, the fairy lamps were lighted and food and drink supplied in the coachyard.”

Sir Joseph was genuinely loved in the village. Mrs Kate Lloyd tells how children gave him a cheer when he came by in his bath chair and he would throw them a handful of sixpences. Edgar Davies tells that when he met a child he would enquire if his father worked at Lower Eaton, and if he did give him sixpence. He used to go to Hereford in his carriage on Saturday mornings and Edgar Davies was among boys who used to sneak lifts by hanging on to the back and having a free ride to town.

The red bonnets and scarves distributed at the Christmas treats formed in effect a school uniform for Eaton Bishop children. They were made by a Mrs Burgess who lived at Lower Eaton.

When he died aged 79 in 1901, every man and woman employed on the estate and each pensioner, was measured and fitted out with mourning by Greenlands.

Sir Joseph left £355,724.14.9d. and among his bequests was one for £1,000 for an extension to the Hereford City Library and Museum to be known as the “Gladstone” Room. This caused something of a rumpus in the city since it was thought the amount not sufficient for the purpose. Others asked to subscribe objected to donating money for a “Gladstone” Room if they were Tories and there was some heated correspondence on the subject in the Hereford Times.

The chapter of this story does not end until 1912 after his nephew Mr Charles Pulley added another £2,000 to enable the wish to be carried out. Mrs Pulley performed the opening ceremony and a plaque commemorates the occasion.

Mr Charles Pulley was Sir Joseph’s heir. He had been born in 1864 at Gravesend, Kent, attending King’s College School and King’s College, London. Like his uncle he became a member of the London Stock Exchange, and like him too he married rather later in life than usual and had no children.

He took over the estate and made further improvements, adding a stud of pedigree racehorses to the cattle. Green Court and Wormhill were bought from the Snead Cox’s, cattle buildings being converted into horse boxes until at one time 106 horses were housed on the estate. Between 1919 and 1946, Sir Charles bred winners at home and abroad which won races to the value of £ll6,500.

He married at the age of 42 Irva, second daughter of Peter M. Keenan of Washington, USA and their homecoming in 1906 has been described. “Welcome Home” garlands were placed across the road by the forge and at Lane Head and there is a picture of the whole party in the grounds in the family album and scrapbook now owned by Mr George Lloyd who was stud groom at Lower Eaton for 36 years..

Lady Pulley was never as fond of Lower Eaton as her husband and the most memorable parties were ”stag” gatherings in the autumn when business friends from London came to shoot and every servant on the estate - “even the boots who brought the coal in” was given a piece of gold as a tip from the departing guests.

A Butler and two Footmen travelled between Lower Eaton and their London home, 20 Park Lane, but there were, before the First War, seven gardeners, the head gardener, Mr Smith living in the cottage now owned by Mrs Helen Gray and several unmarried ones next door in “the Bothy” now the Bungalow.

Domestic staff were housed in the right wing of the building which joined the main block by a covered way. “Hall boys” slept in the attics above the right hand side of the main building (now Manor House).

In 1912 Mr Pulley was High Sherriff of the County, taking part in a ceremony on the Hereford Racecourse when a Mr Salmet in his “flying machine” - it looks from the photograph like a cross between a helicopter and one of the early dual wing planes - left amid cheering crowds for a flight to Worcester. The same year saw an Archery meeting and a Boy Scouts Rally in the grounds.

In May 1918 Mr Pulley was elected to Parliament, but, unlike his uncle, as a Tory, though his official description was “Coalitionist”. He resigned in 1920 but remained Chairman of the Council of the Conservative Association. On June 10th 1922 a Knighthood was conferred upon him in the Birthday Honours List.

Sir Charles took a very personal interest in the village, was Vicar’s warden for many years and made a point of attending the Chapel harvest thanksgiving. He gave the land on which the Parish Hall stands and his name is recalled today in Pulley Avenue where the Council houses stand.

He was President of the Herefordshire Beekeepers’ Association and Vice President of the Hereford and District Angling Association. To this Association he granted the right to fish in his Belmont Waters.

Lady Pulley died in January 1942 and Sir Charles, at the age of 82, in April l947. He left an estate of £333,823 but with no heir it was for Eaton Bishop, the end of an era.

At the time of Sir Charles’ death his Eaton Bishop estate totalled 827 acres - more than half the total area of the village.

There was a five-day sale of the contents of Lower Eaton which realised £17,000. For his l934 Rolls Royce car, £2,350 was bid and a 1937 Renault fetched £l,l50. A copy of Mrs Leather’s “Folklore of Herefordshire” brought £16. A pair of elephant tusks, reputed to be the longest in the kingdom, brought £80.

In the village, however, the greatest interest rested in the sale of the estate itself which took place on September 25th l947.

It was expected that the farms would be sold individually, but the whole estate was bought by G. Perry of Jackson Stops “on behalf of a client” for £5l,500. Immediately afterwards, however, several properties in which the purchaser was not interested were sold - White House Farm, Westfield, The Hydes, Boulton Bank, Brooky Villa, the Bungalow, and some pasture land and an orchard. Values were high and just over 9 acres of pasture and orchard brought £1,150.

Other prices are detailed in the Hereford Times for October 1st l947.

Much timber was taken from the estate by the purchaser who afterwards sold the Mansion (Lower Eaton) and its two cottages to Mrs Daisy Bishop, the Lodge to Mr & Mrs Richard Davies, and much of the remaining property in the village - the Manor House, Green Court and the stables behind the Village Hall - to Mr John Ismay. He, however, resold them in 1953 to Mr Percy Monkley who had been tenant for many years of Lane Head Farm, but Mr Monkley also resold, retaining the Manor House which he has now completely modernised.

Lane Head Farm was bought by Mr O.S.Hellyer of Brixham and Hull who brought Mr William Hamilton as manager and built for himself a new house, York Cottage. Five farm cottages have been modernised and two entirely new ones built on the estate.

Mr Hellyer is today the biggest landowner in the village, his estate being 400 acres and housing a magnificent herd of Pedigree Hereford Cattle.

He had bought in 1944 for the (then) record price of £12,500 guineas Weston Masterpiece who became champion at the Royal Show at York in 1948 and came with the nucleus of the present herd to Lane Head in 1950.

In 1954 came an even greater thrill for the village when Eaton Eastern Venture which had been bred on the farm won the Queen’s Cup at the Royal Show at Windsor for the best of all the beef animals, A picture of the Queen presenting the cup to Mr Hellyer is in the canteen of the Hereford Cattle Market.