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Bishopswood, Herefordshire

Burgums and Burghams lived and worked at Bishopswood, in Herefordshire, and at nearby Ruardean in Gloucestershire.

Bishopswood lies on the banks of the River Wye about four miles south-east of Ross-on-Wye. Bishopswood was later historically used for hunting in Saxon and Norman times.

It is within the parish of Walford but was a separate ecclesiastical district formed in 1845, with a church dedicated to All Saints. It was built in 1841 and consecrated in 1845. It is a stone building with a porch, nave, a small belfrey and a single bell. The living is a vicarage with a value of £80, residence and 7 acres of glebe land. It was built by John Partridge, son of William Partridge, the iron-master, who once owned the Bishopwood estate.

There is evidence of a significant Roman presence, including the discovery of a hoard of 18,000 coins discovered in 1895 dated from about 350-360 AD together with much pottery. The coins were discovered by workmen working on the Bishopswood Esate, then owned by Harry McCalmont, near All Saints Church, buried in three earthenware urns on the Estate.
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During the siege of Goodridge Castle during the English Civil War, Col John Birch made his headquarters at Walford Court.

Historically iron-working required access, trees as a ready source of charcoal, a good water supply to drive the bellows and, of course, iron ore. In the 1590's Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex had two furnaces at Bishopswood (he also had a forge at Lydbrook). From 1590 to 1614 John Challoner and partners were the tenants of the Essex family. In 1617 the two, now ruined furnaces were let to James Hawkins with permission to build another one. In addition to charcoal, cinders were used as fuel. In 1633 the furnace was purchased by Benedict Hall, with Sir John Kyrle holding the tenancy. By 1639 John Hannis was ironmaster with George Williams as founder.

There was a growing concern that the ironworks of the Forest of Dean were devouring vast amount of timber and the Government, under Oliver Cromwell, was aware of the importance of said timber for the Navy. Instead of copsing the trees, enabling them to grow back, woodland was simply being felled. The Preservators of Dean presented their concerns to Parliament in 1650 and Cyril Hart suggests that they, or their supporters, may have been responsible for the demolishing of the furnaces in in the same year. However the Navy needed iron as well suitable timber for cannon and ammunition. By 1674 Paul Foley was operating the furnace.

The Bishopswood furnace was sited on Lodge Grove Brook and was now owned by the Foley Partnership in 1680. In 1685 Paul Foley rented the furnace to Wheeler and Avenant for seven years at £7 per year. In 1699 Thomas Foley had inherited the furnace from his father. It is believed the furnace ceased production in 1751. Taylor's map of 1777 (left) shows another furnace had been built on the Lodge Grove Brook about 135 metres from the River Wye The furnace can also be seenanother 275 metres upsteam (to the east). When John Partride owned it in 1796 it produced a considerable 947 tons of iron. In 1810 the Severn and Wye Railway Company built a tramroad extension to to the Bishopswood ironworks, bringing in coal and coke and taking out iron bar. The furnace was later shown on maps dated 1805, 1810 and 1824, but it was probably not working on the last date. It appears to have ceased operations in 1814, although bar iron continued to be transported in, suggesting the forge at least was still functioning. Around 1821 William Partridge, ironmaster, built his mansion, Bishopswood House near the site and he certainly would not have done that if the furnace was still in use. However the forge and the coal-wharf seemed have continued in use. The forge appears to have retired about 1840.

Bishopswood House was completely destroyed by fire in 1873. Although re-built, another fire destroyed it again in 1918. Another house, formerly the vicarage, now bears that name.

The population of Walford in 1861 was 1,204. Bishopswood had a population of 446 in 1871.

The Ross and Monmouth Railway operated through Walford from 1873 with a station in the parish at Kerne Bridge. Passenger services finally stopped in 1959.

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Click here for more about Bishopswood and some of the Burgums and Burghams who lived there.