Brief History

Although Roman pottery was found during pipelaying in the 1990s, probably the oldest extant feature in the parish is the church tower, which dates from the fourteenth century. The rest of the church was rebuilt in 1870, six years after the building of its vicarage. The Plough Inn dates from the end of the eighteenth century, and the school opened in 1865, acquiring a teacher’s house in 1888. The population in 1871 was 348, much the same as 2001.

Enid Wilkinson has kindly allowed us to make use of the excellent Millennium booklet, “In Those Days”, and her introduction neatly sums up the Parish’s more recent history:

“Until the Second World War, the majority of people living in and around Little Dewchurch earned their living on the land, as landowners, tenant farmers or as agricultural workers. Small bakers, butchers and grocers supplied local needs. Horses worked the land and provided, with bicycles, the most common form of transport in the countryside, and tractors and motor vehicles were a rare sight in the early years of the century. The lifeline for most communities in the area was the railway between Ross-on-Wye and Hereford , which stopped at Backney Halt (Bridstow), Fawley, Ballingham and Holme Lacy.

Little Dewchurch changed very little until 1964. Before then, there was no mains water and no electricity. Two public pumps served the village: one by the church and one opposite the village green (in what is now the garden of The Old Forge). Some cottages had wells and pumps, others stored water in underground tanks, and larger properties had bore holes. Fuel was mainly paraffin for lighting, and coal and wood for heating and cooking.

Life in the village changed dramatically after 1964, when the Rural District Council agreed to provide electricity and mains water in return for land behind the school on which they planned to build a council estate. The proposal was put to a full meeting of the Parish and eventually agreed. (It is worth noting, however, that the council houses in St. David’s Rise were occupied for over a year before electricity finally came to the village).”

There was a blacksmith’s on the site of The Forge, and a small shop with Post Office and bakery on the Hereford road which, survived until the 1980s. Court Close was built mainly in the 1970s, and the houses around the green (Field Fare, Blackberry Lane etc.) were built around 2000. The new village hall was completed in 1996 at a cost of £150,000. Sadly, the railway line was a victim to Beeching’s cuts in the 1960s.

Below is a map of the parish dated 1839.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2024 OS PSMA100055523

A description of our parish from 1858.