History

A brief history of the four parishes

Aylton

Aylton means “settlement of Aepelgifu,” an Anglo-Saxon woman’s name, suggesting that the settlement dates to Anglo Saxcon times. Part of the church is Norman. Adjacent to the church lies Court Farm, recently restored, and boasting an early 16th century six bay cruck trussed barn, also restored.

Half a mile from the church stands Aylton Court, scene of a tragic shooting. In 1855, young Emma Foulgar was killed on the staircase when her bother accidentally discharged a shotgun. Her body was buried in Aylton churchyard only to be stolen by body snatchers. Her ghost is said to haunt the stairway where she died to this day.

Little Marcle

Its name probably derives from the Anglo Saxon ‘mearc leah’ meaning boundary wood. The village straddles the old roman road, now the A4172, and consists of the church, two or three farms, the old rectory and some modern redbrick houses. The church is in its third location.  Originally it was north-east of Brook Farm in what is now a pasture, then around the 16th century it was relocated to Little Marcle Court.  In the mid 19th century this was in turn replaced by the current church alongside what is now the A4172.

A mile north of the main settlement is Prior’s court, which dates to Tudor times and which boasts a huge fire above which Elizabethan monks used to smoke eels, which were farmed in the pools in the grounds of the house.

Munsley

The name Munsley derives from the name ‘Mundel’s leah’ meaning Mundel’s glade. Munsley dates at least to Norman times, with four manors listed in the Doomsday book. Near the church can be seen a six foot high mound with remains of a moated enclosure, which may have been an early Norman castle.

A mile from the church Swinmore Common may be found, its name probably meaning ‘swine-moor’ and giving a clue to its use in times past. The cottages there are of the type known as “squatter’s cottages.” These were built on common land providing they took no longer than twenty four hours to build. An axe or shovel thrown from each corner would decide the area of land enclosed with a cottage.

A section of the Hereford to Gloucester Canal runs through the parish. The canal which was completed in 1845 was one of the last to be built, and was soon superceded by the railway.

Pixley

Once again named from the Anglo Saxon, meaning ‘Peoht’s glade in the forest’ Pixley lies on the A417 a section of Roman road which runs from Dymock to Dinmore. Pixley church lies behind the 17th century Pixley Court Farm. A ruined cider mill stands near the church.

Extract from the book: THE KINGS ENGLAND  HEREFORDSHIRE

The Farmyard Church

“Pixley. The cars rush past it all unheeding, yet it has one of the most interesting farmyards in England, its gate on the highway, its cows drinking in the ancient moat and looking on as the traveller comes and goes to see an odd little church that has stood about 700 years.

It has a perky little tower with a shingled spire, its walls lean as if weary of seven centuries of loneliness, the new door swings on hinges made by a village blacksmith ages since, and the little white-washed nave is divided from the white-washed chancel by as queer a screen as we have seen. An amazing thing it is, its entrance arch (only six feet high) made of naturally curved timbers from some great tree which must have been growing when the Conqueror came, and the rest of the timbers of massive black oak as stout as any in Herefordshire. The screen has three bays and the cross-beam has a patch of neat carving; So have the roof beams which match these venerable timbers. There are no iron nails in the screen, which is fastened together with pegs.

There is no pulpit for the parson, but there is a font for the children, which has been here for 500 years, and fragments of glass in the windows which may be as old as the walls. The light falls on the altar through a south window with three very simple lights of the 13th century.

This primitive little sanctuary is blessed with electric light, and it is blessed also with the memory of seven heroes who gave up their lives for their country; “We are Seven” says the memorial, a little poem by the rector, hanging on the wall.”

Athur Mee, 1952

Credit must also be given to Michael Raven’s book,  ‘A Guide to Herefordshire’, the source of much of the information on this page.