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History

The history of the parish has been well researched and told by local historian Peter Garnett in his book “Portrait of Wellington Heath”, which covers development from before the Norman Conquest to the early years of the second millennium, and much of the information contained in this History section is derived from his book.
Pre-Conquest, the land of the parish belonged to the Bishop of Hereford; the area – known then as Walynton - was not widely settled, as there is no mention of a village in the Domesday Book of 1086. In medieval times, farms and grand houses belonging to wealthy landowners were the main employers in this rural parish and several significant dwellings dating from this period are still standing. Peg’s Farm, a beautiful timber-framed building and the oldest dwelling in the parish, dates from the 14th century; The Burtons (also timber-framed) and Prior’s Court – which has always been important and influential in the parish - were also founded in medieval times. During the 16th and 17th centuries other notable houses and farms were built, including Stonehouse (which became Uplands), Arknell, Withers and Callow Croft.

The settlement which became Wellington Heath village began in the late 1700s when quarrymen - and later in the 1800s men working on the Hereford & Gloucester Canal and the Worcester to Hereford Railway – built cottages with squatters’ rights on the undeveloped scrub on the side of the hill.They particularly favoured the Common which was sheltered, south-facing and had a good water supply. There still exists an example of a Squatter’s Cottage, now Grade II listed, which is being restored. The squatters also gave their names to several of the local roads: Jack’s Lane and Floyd’s Lane being two such examples. Most of the squatters held onto their properties even when the common land was enclosed in 1813 – 1816, having been allowed to purchase their freehold for a nominal sum.

For most of its history an integral part of Ledbury parish, the growing settlement first had its own church (although not its own vicar!) in 1841; the church was badly damaged by fire in 1944 and eventually rebuilt in 1952. The boundaries of the present parish were defined in 1842, but it was not until 1894 that the first parish council was formed. It was also in the 1800s that two schools were founded in the village (both paid for by the owners of Hope End), remaining in use until 1961 when the last of these closed.The building density in the village remained largely unchanged from the 1800s until the 1960s and 70s, when an explosion of development took place and most of the modern houses were built, mainly along Horse Road and The Common.

Modern houses now account for almost 50% of dwellings in the parish. It is interesting to note that despite this increase in housing, the population has for over a hundred years remained fairly constant at around 500 people, perhaps reflecting the trend for smaller family sizes through the years. Unofficially, Wellington Heath is known as “Monkey Island” (after the colloquial name for the men working on the railway viaduct in the 1800s), and in the1980s a charity fund-raising group with this name was formed, based at The Farmers Arms. The village had its own flag and passports, “independence” was declared in 1988 and television cameras arrived to record the event. During the 1980s and 90s the group raised considerable sums of money for charities and the village, including providing the bench around the Oak Tree at the top of Ledbury Road.


Oak Tree and Original Bench

The Burtons

 Prior's Court


Stonehouse

Jacks Cottage