January 2022 Newsletter


Welcome to the first Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter for the year. We hope that you had a restful festive period. As you can see below we have started the year with renewed hope for positive developments in the Meadows.


We understand that the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is in discussion with the Church Commissioners regarding a lease on the meadows. There are many issues yet to be agreed upon but FoBM will keep you informed of any updates to this potentially exciting development.
Steve Franklin, 2021

Bill Laws shares his historical research on the post of prebend–and why the meadows matter to the community.

Who owns Bartonsham Meadows? And why?

The Church Commissioners for England, 31 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AZ.


It’s an odd story.

In the 1840s the Rev John Hopton was vicar of Canon Frome and Prebendary of Bartonsham. Prebendaries were curious people. They represented their prebendary parish to the bishop and his cannons, and collected the rents, or tithes, on behalf of the Cathedral.

Hereford Cathedral employed ‘prebs’ because it was (and still is) a secular institution - one of only nine in England and Wales - as opposed to a cathedral run by a monastic order.

Hopton had been cheerfully collecting the rents since 1832. It was a decent income: aside from the water meadows, hops and orchards, there were a cluster of little businesses - small holdings, boat operators and knackers’ yards - around Crozier Lane and the nearby wharf. The size of the prebendary holding had been calculated ‘more or lesse’ in a ‘terrier’, or assessment, for Prebendary John Tyler in 1693. It listed ‘pasture, arable, meadowland’ and a generous ‘beast house’ on 133 acres ‘bounded south by the River Wye, and y lands of John Hill . . . , and y gardens abutting on the highway leading from Eign to St Giles chapill, and y five acres of arable land, called the Mill Croft’.

Not bad since less than half a century earlier the Meadows had been trashed by a bunch of Scots mercenaries laying siege to the city for the Parliamentarians. (Camped on the Meadows they made life miserable for the locals: ‘Reader, if thy hadst been present to have seen the cryes these poor people made, if thy heart had not been hard, it would have melted into tears with them,’ wrote Miles Hill in 1650.

In the 1840s, however, Hopton signed the Meadows over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The deal seemed to have been designed to fund the new parish school, church and vicarage at St James.

Was it a good deal? While the school and church still serve the community, the vicarage, following a £1m publicly funded upgrade, is no longer a parish possession. (It was bought last year by the evangelical Christian group Vennture.)

And the Meadows? We hope the Prebendary of Bartonsham’s estate will, one day, do more than provide an income stream for the Church Commissioners.

Footnote: the honorary role of Prebendary of Bartonsham is still hosted by Hereford Cathedral. Currently vacant, it’s expected to be allocated soon.

Bill Laws chairs the Bartonsham History Group. Check out their website for a great history of the meadows www.bartonshamhistory.org.uk.
Lisa Stevens, 2021


The eagle-eyed Dick Jones and Bill Laws note the following –

We had a good walk this dry, cold and bright morning, setting off at 9:00 from Greenway Bridge. We followed the riverside path right round to Victoria Bridge and then back along Nelson Street, Green Street and Park Street.

We spotted the following:

WoodpigeonGreat titBlue tit
House sparrowKingfisherRobin
Herring gullMallardMagpie
Lesser black backed gullBlack headed gullSong thrush
CrowLong tailed titSiskin
RookCollared doveStarling
Sparrow hawk
(on roof of a certain house on Park Street)

Twenty eight in total – a record number for us and could easily have got to 30 if a few more regulars had been in evidence (swan, cormorant, dunnock, coal tit, redwing and fieldfare).


The St. James’ and Bartonsham Community Association held an online event on Thursday 27th January with fascinating contributions from Friends of the Upper Wye, Friends of the Lower Wye, and advice from the Wye Valley AONB on the practicalities of tackling balsam. A fourth talk told of the Wyeside infrastructure projects proposed along the course of the river through Hereford by the Sea Cadets, Rowing and Rugby Clubs. The information-rich event was recorded and will be available on www.jaba.org.uk.


About 20 volunteers turned out in chilly bright and dry weather on Sunday 30th January to help with the removal of the deteriorating plastic guards from the young trees planted by Bartonsham Meadows on Outfall Works Road and along the cycle track towards Rotherwas. We started this job, which was long overdue, a year ago but were unable to complete it until the annual vegetation had died down.  Thank you to everyone who pitched in with the prickly task and cleared huge quantities of ordinary litter too. Photos taken by Ruth.


Please get in touch with your sightings of flora and fauna - and floods! We keep a record and would really appreciate any notes or images you take. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org 

As always, if you could do any of the following we'd be super grateful:

- Share this newsletter
- Join us on Instagram and Facebook
- Become a formal member of the Friends Group - sign up here
- Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will