1868 History

A History of Dilwyn Published in 1868

A transcription of an extract from the
Archaeologia Cambrensis (Third Series, No 54, APRIL 1868)
published by the Cambrian Archaeological Association


The paper read by the Rev Dr Heather at the Hereford Meeting of August 1867 was as follows:-

The parish of Dilwyn is one of the largest and most populous of the rural parishes of this county. The acreage exceeds 6,000, and the population is nearly 1,100. Situated in the north-west angle of the county, it combines the luxuriance of Herefordshire with just a tinge of the bolder scenery of the country over the border. The origin of the name, variously written in past centuries Dilge, Dilewe, Dilwin, Dilvin, and lastly Dilwyn is involved in such obscurity, and presents so many difficulties, that I dare not venture a conjecture even on the point.

I shall divide my remarks into two heads - the Secular and Ecclesiastical History of the parish.

In 1207, Matthew de Gamages was Lord of Dilwin, and joined his forces to those of William de Braos, Lord of Brecknock, in his resistance to King John. The confederates, however, were defeated, and the estates of the Lord of Dilwin seized by the king; and henceforth Dilwin became a royal manor. In 1169, a Godfrey de Gamages held lands under Hugh de Lacy in these parts, and he may have been the immediate predecessor of Matthew in the lordship of Dilwin. It seems that King John, when Earl of Moreton, held lands in Dilwin. These and the lands acquired by the forfeiture of those of Matthew de Gamages were granted by the king to William Fitzwarrynne, and King Henry the Third confirmed the grant. The honour was next held in succession by Almaric de St Armand, Godfrey and Walter de Burgh, Robert Wathamstide, Peter de Genevey (or Geneville). The honour of Dilwin contained two hides and a half, and is described in the original deed as a "Royal Honour". We now arrive at the most illustrious of the Lords of Dilwin, in the person of Prince Edmund, Earl of Leicester, on whom King Henry the Third bestowed the honour of Dilwin. Upon the death of this illustrious and unfortunate prince, in 1296, of a broken heart, his son Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, succeeded him, followed in turn by his brother, who took King Edward II prisoner. In the following reign (Edward III) Nicholas de Audley held Dilwin, but probably under the superior Lord, the Lancaster family -- for we read that when the military fees of Henry Earl of Lancaster were divided between his two daughters, Maud or Matilda had Dilwin as part of her portion. At her death it might have reverted to the crown, as her first husband, Lord Stafford, left no children, and there is no account of heirs by her second husband, William, Duke of Zealand. During the War of the Roses we have no record of the Lordship of Dilwin. In the time of Richard the Third, Sir John Talbot, and Dame Margaret his wife, obtained a grant of one third of the manor. In the reign of Henry the Eighth the Lordship of Dilwin was taxed for one knight's fee (£2). The last mention made of the manor is in the time of Queen Elizabeth, when it was held of the Crown by Knight's Service of the honour of Dilwin, but by whom does not appear.

I am not aware that any mention is to be found of a Castle at Dilwin but there was of course a Manor House. The site is still distinctly marked, and its dimensions are traced by a wide and deep moat, which throughout the greater part of its extent is still filled with water. The orchard adjoining it is called the "Court Orchard". Not a vestige of the Court itself is left. Without attaining to the dignity and strength of a regularly fortified place, it doubtless was capable of defence against any petty raid or ordinary surprise. It is situated less than a quarter of a mile from the church and lies south west of it.
It will be evident from the mere recital of the names, that the Lords of Dilwin were non resident. But alongside the royal manor was that of the Hamme or Homme, where resided the family of Carpenter for 500 years down to the end of the last century. Early in that century one of the Carpenters, for his services in the wars, was made Baron Carpenter, and George his grandson become Earl of Tyrconnel. His son George possessed the Homme in 1785.

A considerable portion of the parish is still called "Sollers Dilwyn", from the family of Solers, or de Solariis, who came in with the Conqueror. Their seat in this county is supposed to have been at Bridge Sollers. Subsequently a Tyrrell married a Sollers, and so their lands in this parish passed into the latter family, and the principal residence - now a farmhouse - in Sollers Dilwyn is still known as "Tyrrels Court".
Chabbenore (now Chadnor) was long the seat of a family who took their name from the manor, which in the time of Henry III contained three hides and one sergeantry for service. It was then held by William de Chabbenore, of the heirs of Ralph de Thony de vetere feoffmento of the honour of Thony. The last mention made of this family is in 1676. The number of court houses in this parish is worthy of remark, viz., Chadnor Court, Alton Court, Tyrrell's Court, Luntley Court, Swanston Court, Newton Court, in addition to the Manor House of Dilwyn now destroyed. I have now sketched the history of the principal estates.

Respecting eminent or public persons connected with Dilwyn; in the middle ages the De la Beres witnessed various deeds conferring lands upon the Church; their arms were emblazoned in the church of St Mary, and Bearton (ie Bereton), a farm house on the northern side of the parish, doubtless formed a portion of their estate. This family was also connected with the Audleys, already mentioned, by marriage. Thomas of Chadnor was member for the county in the 25th and 26th of Edward the First. Amongst the sheriffs I find the names of William Fitzwarryne (Lord of Dilwyn); the De la Beres; and in 1729, John Tyler, of the Great House, Dilwyn. The grandmother of Southey, the poet laureate, married for her first husband a younger brother of this Mr Tyler, who was nephew to Dr Tyler, Dean of Hereford and Bishop of Llandaff. Thomas Carpenter was sheriff six years earlier, and William Phillips of Newton, in this parish, seven years later. Thomas Dingley, or Dineley, the industrious antiquary, who died at Louvain towards the close of the seventeenth century, is described in his will as of Dilwyn. In the Dinely MS, now in the possession of Sir T Winnington (?), there is a sketch of Dilwyn church, and an account of the robust health of its inhabitants, which the vicar of that day ascribed to their drinking cider.

I now turn to the Ecclesiastical History of Dilwyn:- The advowson of Dilwyn was conferred upon the Priory of Wormesley (a parish five miles distant) by Prince Edmund, Earl of Leicester. No doubt the advowson passed with the Manor of Dilwyn from Matthew de Gamages to the king, upon the forfeiture of his estate to King John. The deed of gift is still in existence, and bears date April 11th, 1274. The Prince gave to the Priory the patronage of the benefice, the whole of the tithes, "and one acre of land which had lately belonged to Walter de Monyton, and lyes in the Manor or Dyelewe, in a field called Heuynesfield". This grant was confirmed the same year by John, Bishop of Hereford, by Thomas, Bishop of Hereford, 1281, and by Richard, Bishop of Hereford in 1285, and also by King Edward the First, at which time the church was valued at £20 per annum. The patronage was retained by the priory until 1541, ie for 267 years, when it again reverted to the Crown, by whom it was held for only twenty one years, for in 1562 Queen Elizabeth made an exchange of various manors and avowsons with the Bishop of Hereford. In this exchange Dilwyn was included, and the see of Hereford has retained it to this time. I have said that in 1274 the church was vested with the Prior of Wormesley; and after an interval of eleven years, by the death of the vicar, Thomas de Colcestre, the monks were called upon to present a successor. On the next Monday after the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the Bishop held (by his Commissary, Nicholas de Reygate) a full consistory at Tatyton, and declared that the true patrons were the Monks of Wormesley. Richard de Monyton, Capellanus, was presented. Twenty years later there was a dispute between the patrons and the vicar as to the distribution of the profits of the living. The Vicar wished his income increased; but the Prior demurred, stating "that the gifts of the Church were not worth above £70 yearly; that they (the religious) have built the chancell new, and doe repayre it still, and find bookes". The Bishop having heard both parties, confirmed the following allowance to the vicar: At Christmas one mark (13s 4d); at Easter with the offerings of pence for eggs, and bread (3s 4d); on the eve of the Virgin's Nativity, on the Feast of the Dedication, and on the Feast of All Saints (in various chapels), 6s 8d; in bread and ale yearly half a mark (6s 8d); the receipt of 1d. every Sunday in the year (4s 4d); in flax yearly £1 10s; the principal fine on three carrucates in the liberty of the priory and convent, valued yearly at 6s; two sums of bread corn and two of wheat, 14s; in geese and pigs one mark (13s 4d); in small tithes of calves, kyne, fowls, etc 10s; the tithes of wool and lamb, one mark (13s 4d); in anniversaries and three yearly feasts, half a mark (6s 8d); in offerings for the dead yearly, 10s; for herriotts (by the year), £2; for marriages and churchings, 6s; the tenths of the mills, 3s; the tenths of the gardens and Langton penny, 8s; the small tithes of Chabbenore, 3s; making a total of £9 7s 8d, for which sum "the vicar is to serve honestly, and to find a deacon at 40s, and to pay a certain chaplain celebrating at Chabbenore every Lord's day at 10s, and to find a competent light at the value of 10s, and bread and wine at the value of 5s, and to receive the bishop's officiary and archdeacon, as is wont, with procurations and synodalls yearly to the archdeacon, and to bear the third part with us (the Priory) of all extraordinary charges". This occurred in 1305. The chapel of Chabbenore was dedicated to St. Hellin, and called St. Hellin's - or corruptly by the inhabitants, St Chillins. Not a vestige of it remains, and the site can only be made out by some ancient yew trees dotted round the chapel yard. The church contained two chantries, those of St Mary and St Nicholas. The former was endowed to the amount of £4 8s 5d; that of S Nicholas £4 per annum. There were three oratories in Dilwyn - all granted in 1346 by the then Bishop of Hereford, to John de Budeneweise, Walter of Chabbenore, and John of Alleton (Alton).

Is dedicated to St Mary, and is one of the most imposing and interesting in the county of Hereford. The style is late Early English. In 1305 the Prior stated that the chancel had been built by his house "new" - the church was not in the patronage of the Priory until 1274, and they did not present until 1285. The chancel therefore was built (and the nave is of the same date) during the last twenty years of the 13th century. The tower (at the south-west end of the nave) is also early English, and affords conclusive evidence that Dilwyn Church was built twice over in the 13th century, for the weathering of the original church is still distinctly traced on the face of the tower. The present church has north and south aisles, the former church wanted these latter appendages. Why was a new church taken down so soon after its erection? I think the explanation is, that, the Priory of Wormesley erecting a more capacious chancel - the parish was induced to rebuild the nave. Late in the following century the present fine south porch (of stone, and containing two bays) was erected, and also the north transept. There is an early English sacristy on the north side of chancel, and the tower is surmounted by a shingled spire. In the angle formed by the junction of nave and chancel is a turret containing a stone stair, which led to the rood loft. Some of the lancets of the early English clerestory still remain, and in addition five two-light windows inserted in the 15th century. The font is of the same date - also the three screens separating the chancel, the north transept, and the ladye chapel from the nave. The church is particularly rich in brackets. During the progress of the restoration (now going on) several specimens of encaustic tiles have been dug up, and are exhibited in the Museum this week. An interesting example of the 13th century fresco painting has been brought to light in the lady chapel; and in the 15th century a good deal of stencilling was executed in the south aisle of the nave and the north transept. The west gallery was erected as late as 1631, and is an interesting quaint structure. Vermilion was freely used in the decoration of the screens of the lady chapel and north transept. The church was formerly rich in stained glass especially heraldic glass. The east window was filled with stained glass by the Priory of Wormesley, containing the arms of England, the Earl of Leicester, the See of Hereford, the Dean and Chapter of Hereford. The Earl gave the tithes to the convent. The king confirmed the grant, as also did the Bishop by the consent of the Dean and Chapter. Captain Symonds in his diary (1645) describes these as "very large and old, each about a foot broad". North-east window of chancel - the arms of Talbot. North-west window of chancel - the kneeling figure of a knight clad in armour of the thirteenth century, the hands joined in the attitude of prayer. The South-west window of the chancel was also filled with heraldic glass. The east window of the south aisle of the nave contained the arms of Lionel Duke of Clarence, and the south-east window of the same aisle the arms of Heven, of Heven (or Haven as now pronounced), of the parish of Dilwyn. The next window in the same aisle also contained heraldic glass. The north window of the north transept is a noble window, of very late decorated work, and was filled with stained glass, - as Captain Symonds says, "fairly adorned with the pictures of the twelve apostles". There were thus in all eight stained glass windows, including the two largest in the church. In the north wall of the chancel, under a fourteenth century canopy, is a recumbent figure of a knight, cross-legged, in close armour, drawing his sword half out, a lion crouching at his feet, on his arm a target bearing the arms of Talbot. In the north transept there are the remains of a very fine 15th century brass; the brasses (those of a male and female) have disappeared, together with the whole of the stained glass already mentioned, except a few fragments in the head of the north transept window. In the course of the present restoration three monumental slabs - two sculptured and one incised - have been brought to light. The most perfect of these is in memory of Thomas Killing and his wife. This slab is late 13th century. A still earlier, but rather rudely sculptured slab, is preserved as the sill of the east window of south aisle of nave.
The bells, six in number, and a very musical and effective peal, were cast by A. Rudhal, of Gloucester, in 1733. The inscriptions do not call for remark.
The churchyard is entered through what is called by the inhabitants a "scallenge", virtually a lych gate. Captain Symonds thus describes it in 1645; "At the Church Gate Stands a Howse and square with pillars and two doores, which they call a Palme Howse; it formerly stood in the Churchyard". And he gives sketches of a stool with "leather or cloth" top, exactly similar to the modern camp stool, showing it when opened and when closed.
Then Symonds describes "a water wheele six feet in diameter, six spokes, and about four inches thick".
A sketch of the wheel is given, with the trough to convey the water.
"This," proceeds the Captain, "will turne spitts, two chernes, and beate in a morter".

I will conclude with the following inventory of the church goods, made out, as I believe, either in 1611 or 1612, and the title-page of the register book:-

An Inventory of ye goods belonginge to ye Church of Dilwyn.
Inp'mis ye parishe stocke for ye poore in mony, £7.
Item, another stocke of mony £3.
Item, one silver chalice with a cover, worth 50s.
Item, one pewter pottle pot for ye communion wine, 3s.
Item, one large bible and an old bible, 40s.
Item, two Tomes of Homilies, 5s.
Item, four communion books, two in folio, two in qrto, 20s.
Item, one table of degrees of marriages prohibited, 4d.
Item, one booke of canons made Ano. 1604, 20d.
Item, one booke of Articles enquired at visitations, 8d.
Item, one Bullinger's Decades, allowed by Mr. Ballard, Surrogate to ye Ordinary, instead of Erasmus paraphrased, 10s.
Item, one faire wainscot chest, with three lockes, 11s.
Item, one poore men's box with three lockes, 4s.
Item, three other old chests, whereof two are in the vestrie, 5s.
Item, one cover made of wainscot for ye font, 4s.
Item, one surplice, old and seare 5s.
Item, one fair coveringe of cloth of gold for the communion table, wh. coste the parishe 26s.
Recovered from ye p'ishe by ye p'ishioners of Webley, of whom it was bought for 8d.
Item, one newe cambricke table cloth for ye Co'in Table, 12s.
Item, an old coveringe of Darnin, now used in ye pulpit, 2s.
Item, an old holland table cloth 12d.
Item, two pay bookes for Lownes and accounts, 5s.
Item, three other writinge bookes for registeringe, christenings, mariages and burials, this is one, 16s.
Item, one newe surplice of holland, which cost about 30s.
Item, one little vessell and two bottells for wine, which cost about 2s.
Item, two plate dishes for the co'ion bread cost 16d.
Item, Bishop Jewell's Works, which cost 20s.
Item, two bookes of praiers for ye 5 of August and ye 5 of November, 8d.
Item, two forms of wainscot for ye co'icants for burialls and women churched, 3s 4d.
Item, ye newe bible printed by authoritie of King James, which cost £2 6s.
Ye old bible was sold by the churchwardens to William Howell for 10s.
Item, two larger wainscot formes for ye communicants which cost 10s.
Item, the stocke of money given by Mr. Goodman to ye poor of Dilwyn, which was by his gift £93 3s 4d, which being not to be had, composition was made with ye friends of Mr. Goodman's executor after ye sute was commenced in ye Chancery against him for £40, which was laide on land of William Bragen, by way of mortgage, to say yearly to ye churchwardens and overseers of ye poore £3 10s, to be dealt to ye poor £40.

The book of the Parish Church of Dilwyn, in the county of Hereford, procured by statute to write the names as well of those who for these forty years now past, that is to say, from the beginning of the reign of the most gracious Queen Elizabeth were either baptised, or married, or heretofore received the benefit of ecclesiastical burial, as well as those who may hereafter receive it. Transcribed by Thomas Hammond, vicar there, at the charges of the parishioners, namely, ten shillings.
He began from the year of our Lord, 1559, and the first year of Elizabeth, and continued to the year of our Lord, 1599, and the fortieth year of Elizabeth, for the aforesaid ten shillings. All the remaining (entries) were made by the care and labour of the vicars for the time being, of whom the first was Thomas Hammond, M.A., of Oxford, a native of Salisbury, who lived vicar here from the month of April, in the thirty-ninth year of Queen Elizabeth, and from the year of our Lord, 1597, until the second day of June, in the fifteenth year of the reign of our most gracious King James, and the year of our Lord, 1617.
Martin Johnson, vicar of Dilwyn, M.A., of Baliol College, Oxford, and a native of Oxford, who lived vicar here from the year of our Lord, 1651, to the year 1698.

The author, Rev Dr Heather, was the vicar of Dilwyn at the time. He is also responsible for the major restoration to St. Mary's church that took place in 1867. His comments about the Manor House/Castle in Dilwyn have proved incorrect after 20th century excavations proved there was actually a stone castle.

The content of this site is the copyright of Dilwyn.com and Dilwyn civil parish
and may NOT be copied or used for commercial purposes.
However content may be freely copied for personal use, academic research or educational use.
We endeavour to ensure that the information on this website is correct. However, we do not warrant its completeness or accuracy. We also do not commit to ensuring that the material on the website is kept up-to-date. To the extent that the website and the information and services on the website are provided free-of-charge, we will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature. See full terms & conditions HERE.