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Orleton History Group

The History Group has been recently formed and meets regularly in the village.

This is a relaxed and informal group of people who are interested in finding out more about our local village history - from medieval times (and earlier!) to the present day. We're not academic historians but we do do our own research, under the guidance of professionals such as the staff at Herefordshire Archives service.

You can see more details here.

The History of Orleton

At the end of the ice age a glacier melted in this area forming "Lake Woofferton"; eventually resulting in a valleyed, fertile area. It remained as such, blessed with a ready supply of water via a stream (Mill Brook) flowing from surrounding hills, with a ford crossing point and sheltered, low lying land. A natural place to attract a settlement, this area, at the time of Domesday Book, became known as Alretvne (the enclosure of the alders). We still have them along our stream today.

The manor of Orleton was given by William the Conqueror to Ralph de Mortimer. It contained "4 hides of land which pay tax. In Lordship there are 4 plough teams with 11 villagers, 15 smallholders, a reeve (magistrate) and a rider; between them 7 ploughs, 6 slaves, 5 ploughmen and a smith." A hide was a measure of land which could be ploughed by one man with an ox in one year. This could vary from 160 acres to 20 depending on land quality.

For many centuries the settlement revolved around agriculture and was self sufficient with its local produce, smiths, cobblers, clog makers, millers, stone masons, wheelwrights and carpenters.

In 1855 a public elementary school and school master's residence was built in a 19th century style, with a capacity for 99 pupils, to serve the community. The population in 1911 was 584 and there were 132 houses in the whole parish.

There were no street names but "Kings Road" was the same in appearance as it had been since early Victorian times, whereas "Millbrook Way" had a farmhouse and buildings plus four cottages. The roadside was lined with damson trees.

The first major developments were Hallets Well and Green Lane Council Houses after World War ll in the early 1950s.

The community still employed many of its inhabitants on farms and sawmills, whilst virtually every woman relied on seasonal farm work to supplement income.

More commuting to work and schools, media accessibility and urban inhabitants spurred change in the 1960s. Orleton wanted to have the same amenities as other places and eventually the District Council agreed to provide mains water and sewerage.

This history provided by Alf Jenkins.

Ye Olde House as drawn by E. W. Green
Possibly Orleton House as drawn by E. W. Green
Courtesy of ewgreen.org.uk