Is pool above church a rare ancient fish pond?

THE pool above St Michael and All Angels Church in Ledbury may be the medieval stew pond mentioned in a new book on the history of carp fishing, according to respected historian Joe Hillaby.

Mr Hillaby, of Hollybush, the author of a definitive book on the town’s early times, Ledbury – a Medieval Borough, believes the pond may even pre-date the high medieval period and date back to the seventh or eighth centuries, when an Anglo-Saxon minster was built on the site of the present church.

This is because the pond was probably created artificially to divert a stream which otherwise might have run through the graveyard. If so, the pool is an incredibly rare survivor and may be the stew pond mentioned by the respected angling historian Kevin Clifford in A History of Carp Fishing Revisted (2011).

In it Mr Clifford writes: “There is no mention of carp in the Roll of the Household Expenses of Richard de Swinfield (1289- 1290), yet many sea and freshwater species are mentioned, including eels, bream, pike, tench, trout, salmon and minnows.

“The tench and pike were kept in a stew at Ledbury.”

Mr Hillaby has confirmed the reference, explaining that Richard de Swinfield was once the Bishop of Hereford.

Mr Hillaby said: “It could be the pond at the back of the church. That could well be the answer as to why it is there.

“I have no idea when it was created, but it must have been linked to the diversion of the stream, so very early indeed, possibly the seventh century.”

Ancient records show the Bishops of Hereford had a manor in Ledbury.

But Mr Hillaby said: “The problem is, we don’t know where this manor was.”

Now, at least, is is possible the Bishop’s fish pond has been found at last.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR POND

A COMMUNITY project to restore ponds in the country around Ledbury is being launched this month.

The Herefordshire Ponds and Newts Heritage Network Project has just been given funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help communities in north east Herefordshire to celebrate and learn about their local ponds.

The project will concentrate on their history and use over the centuries and their amazing wildlife, including dragonflies, caterpillars, beetles, frogs, toads and newts.

Nigel Hand, project officer, said: “If you have a pond that we could survey, let us know. Our final aim is to create more ponds in the area to improve the pond network.”

A series of meetings is being held across the area. Mr Hand will give a talk, and then over refreshments everyone can look at the information stands and the maps of ponds in the parishes and help by saying where they know of ponds, both past and present.

The meetings are at Bromyard Town Council Chamber, on Wednesday October 17, Ledbury Community Hall on Friday October 26. Bishops Frome Village Centre on Thursday, November 1, Cradley Village Hall on Tuesday, November 6, Colwall Village Hall on Thursday, November 15, and Bosbury Parish Hall on Thursday, December 6.

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