> Archaeology > Oral History > Churchyard Memorials
> The Church > Timber Framed Buildings > Interviews
> Talks > Newsletter > History

Contact us

Several talks were provided throughout 2004 at Burton Court to visitors and to local WI groups.

The next talk to be given by members of the Archaeological Project Group will on November 18th 2005 at 7.30 at Kington. The talk will be given to the Kington Historical Society and will describe the work undertaken at Burton Court (2000-2005). There will be a display of photographs and artefacts.


The Archaeological Projects Group has organised a programme of talks to take place during the time when all field work is curtailed as a result of the foot and mouth epidemic. The aim has been to provide a wider public insight into our work and also to enable us to gain more understanding of aspects of the projects being undertaken where we lack the expertise to interpret our data or the history we are looking at.

On 19th April we had a most helpful question and answer discussion with Tim about the project to date. The range of work being undertaken was outlined and issues arising clarified. Concerns about the way to deal with the collection of artifacts was raised (some can be researched, and the assemblage given to a local museum, eventually); the problems created by the foot and mouth epidemic were specified and future plans when it was resolved were outlined. Further meetings are planned when the geo-physics data will be interpreted and suggestions about how to proceed in Quinton Orchard will be considered.


On May 3rd David Whitehead came to talk about the Gardens of Burton Court and their significance in the times of the Brewsters and the ways in which the landscape has changed since that time.

He explained the background to the house and estate the known written history of which dates to 1331. A dovecote was referred to in 1388. Another (perhaps a replacement) dates from 1700, although this was demolished in a storm in the early 1990s. Details of its gardens have not been uncovered as yet in the Court Rolls, but he explained that there would have been landscaped gardens in the 17th century when the Brewsters lived there, because they were apothecaries and doctors, who would have used the gardens for herbs and the expansive lands around as possible park-land. The park and pools would have been an important visual feature.

The Brewsters were obviously wealthy people, as early as 1664 he was a resident of the parish and assessed for 7 hearths (the highest in the parish). The extensive library that was built up was dispersed in 1715 to Hereford (subsequently to the chained library) in the Cathedral and Oxford Colleges. Among these were many important gardening books which may well throw light on the way the garden was laid out at Burton Court. The library made Burton Court the finest repository of gardening knowledge in Herefordshire, if not the Welsh border. The likely lay out of the gardens was illustrated by reference to those of other large properties about which there is clear knowledge, for example Langstone Court and Trewyn. David Whitehead speculated that there may have been spectacular water features, a possible bowling green (there is one in his garden in the house he owned in Hereford, the oldest in Britain) and an entrance that was over water. The two ancient sweet chestnuts inside the gates confirm its antiquity. It is likely that as late as c1800 Burton Court was surrounded by formal gardens which fell out of favour in the early 19thc. Careful fieldwork would perhaps confirm some of these suggestions.

On 11th May we had a visit from Derek Hurst who examined the pottery finds obtained from a trench which the group had dug. The pottery was initially discovered after a fox or badger had dug pieces out. Derek examined them rapidly and noted that his comments should be treated as provisional until a more detailed examination was possible.

He said that the assemblage was in good condition, judging from the relatively large size of some sherds and their unabraded state. This suggested that much could well be in its original position. It comprised a good group of early medieval pottery from a region where there have been few such assemblages in the past. All the pottery was cooking pot with evidence of scaling and sooting. Three types were recognised:

(i) Worcester type ware
(ii) Silterstone tempered ware
(iii) Cotswold ware

The dating is assessed as mid to late l2thc and early l3thc. The presence of Cotswold ware is indicative of mid 11th to mid l2thc for some activity on the site and it is a particularly exciting find as it has rarely been seen to date in a rural context. Derek Hurst concluded by noting that the assemblage was a remarkable one and possibly quite important. He showed illustration of the types of pots that the sherds would once have formed and explained how they were constructed and manufactured. He added that the finds probably showed the significance of trade with Worcester (rather than Hereford or Wales) and this was probably related to the fact that the Leominster Priory had special trading links with Worcester, which influenced the trade from Eardisland in that direction also.

On May 18th Duncan James gave an illustrated talk on the history of the Manors of Eardisland and his interpretations of the changes which the Great Hall have undergone. The background details was most helpful in showing how the fortunes of the parish developed and changed in medieval times.

· In 1278 the institution of the vicarage of Eardisland (Erleslone) by the Abbey of Lyre (Erleslene has a vicar appointed by the Abbey of Lyre).
· In 1289/90 Sir Pontius de Cors claimed Hinton on the death of its incumbent Hugh de Muster.
· In 1367 the vicar of Eardisland had no garden in which to walk and grow herbs and was provided with land from the rectorial glebe. In 1349 there was the appointment of Richard de Gerneston to Eardisland by the king.
· By 1453 the church is ona list appropriated to the king so two tenths goes to the crown.
· In 1476 Thomas Ellyottys is presented as vicar of Eardisland by the Priory and Convent of Shene (founded byHenryV 1413-22). In 1536 this Prior and Convent was still patron of Eardisland church.

Duncan went on to explain the role the Great Hall would have played in the life of a great house in this period. He referred to other similar ones to show how they were constructed and from this deductions could be made about the way Burton Court was designed. The changes could then be identified. He was able to indicate the damage which had been caused when the various changes were made. He described the living arrangements and the areas in which the Lord of the Manor would have occupied. and the semi public space surrounding it. He described the technical changes which the Hall had undergone in subsequent centuries, when it would have had a second floor and would have been divided into smaller rooms. The Brewsters would have made significant changes to the architecture (as revealed in the sketch by Dingley (1684). This sketch gave rise to much interesting discussion and debate. Duncan suggesting that it was drawn through a telescope and would have provided a fairly accurate picture of the house at that time, with five gables.

There were further changes in the Victorian period when it was reverted to its original great scale and the ceiling removed and walls taken out and beams repaired. The architect was Kempson who opened up the space to its original design. He made excellent copies of original beams which had been damaged or fallen into disrepair. The only problem was that it was Kempson's idea of what a Great Hall should be like and he may have moved doors and added features. A detailed report from Duncan will follow and further information will appear in a future edition of this Newsletter.

On 25th May, we had a fascinating talk by David Lovelace, who showed how changes in the landscape can be interpreted through the analysis of maps and aerial photographs. He explained and demonstrated how information from tithe maps (1840) can be laid over OS maps (1885, 1902) and these laid over recent aerial photographs. The effect is to be able to see how field boundaries have changed, how buildings have disappeared, which properties were in existence in 1840, the ways roads and other significant landmarks have changed or remained in similar positions.

David Lovelace is perhaps the only person in the country who is undertaking this kind of analysis so were are very fortunate to have his input into our project. The beauty of this technique is that it enables us to examine in close detail features in the landscape not otherwise clearly visible on the ground. It provides an opportunity to examine the surveying skills of the l9thc cartographers, which proves to be of the highest standard. In some cases trees marked on the tithe map of 1840 are shown by the 1995 aerial photographs to be in their precise spot. This work fits beautifully with that of David Whitehead, so that whilst he can provide indications of what the landscape around Burton Court was like in the 16th and 17thc, the work of David Lovelace shows how its has changed in the 19th and 20th centuries.