TWO tranquil places. Two sparse communities.

After Walking the Pipe last time, we’re now walking from Burrington to Pipe Aston. 

When we get to the place we last visited in 2013, there’s a bit of a mystery to ponder.

At that time, we thought that, along with Knill and Middleton-on-the-Hill, Pipe Aston is one of three Herefordshire parishes that can be called “Thankful Villages”.

This term, first coined by Arthur Mee in the 1930s, means that all its soldiers came back to the village they left for the Great War.

Historian Dan Snow reinforces the idea that in a

war which touched everybody in the British Isles, it was often the small communities, villages and hamlets where the psychological burden of the carnage was most painfully felt. 

One such community was Pipe Aston and four of its 17 males in a population of 31 went to war. They were: AHG Bannister of the Royal Field Artillery, brothers Walter Deakin of the 8th Yorkshire Regiment, John Deakin of the 14th Gloucestershire Regiment and their step brother Arthur John Deakin of the Welsh Guards.

The percentage chance you, would think, of all four returning to Pipe Aston would be high – but in England and Wales only 40 odd villages out of more than 16,000 are in fact ‘thankful’.

The roll of honour in neighbouring Elton church (inset) suggests that they all came back safely.

This was certainly true of Arthur and Walter Deakin; it was also true of Rev Alfred Bannister, the parish vicar who lived in the Rectory (Whalley House) next door to Pipe Aston church. He died at a nursing home for retired clergy in London at the age of 87.

The fate of the fourth man, however, has recently come into question.

John Deakin was born in March 1897. In the 1911 Census he was living in Pipe Aston with his father, James Deakin, by now married to second wife Aleathea (nee James). Both father and son were working as farm labourers.

John had two brothers – William, the above-mentioned Walter, and two sisters – Annie and Amy, all of whom were apparently born in Pipe Aston.

We know that John Deakin enlisted in Ludlow.

After joining the Army, he arrived at the western front some time after January 1916.

When he was 20, he was listed on February 15, 1918, was wounded during the Battle of Passchendaele (third Battle of Ypres). Later it was presumed that he had died on or shortly after October 22, 1917.

As he has no known grave, John is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. The dedication reads as follows: 31996 Private John Deakin, 14th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment, died 22nd October 1917, aged 20. Son of James and Aleathea Deakin, of Aston Village, Wigmore Rd., Ludlow. Native of Aston, Salop Remembered by great niece, Monika Morgan.

This doesn’t necessarily prove that John Deakin lived at (Pipe) Aston, but that his parents did – and they were his next-of-kin.

Members of the Deakin family are buried in the northern, roadside part of St Giles’s churchyard (pictured) at Pipe Aston. John’s one sister Annie Elizabeth Deakin is buried in the small plot number 9, having died aged 17 on January 3, 1910.

The church records tell us that her father was a waggoner to the village farm and lived in a small cottage which is now the extended Greenaway Cottage, about 100 yards up the road.

All this circumstantial evidence points to the likelihood that John Deakin was living with his parents when he left for war. If he was living at Pipe Aston, and didn’t come back, the village, though very nice to visit on a fine walk, is perhaps not so thankful after all. 


Burrington and Pipe Aston.

4¾ mile moderate ramble with fine views.

Two quiet villages, lane and pasture. 8 stiles.

Map: OS Explorer 203, Ludlow.


The Route

1. Burrington. From the rather eerie churchyard, go back down drive to the road at Old School. TL past Burrington Farm, heading for The Bringewood. Go up metalled track, L, then sharp R, continuing

ahead in the shade of trees along metalled lane, with moss growing in the middle. Pass Lynch Cottage, Brookside and go up through two wooden gateways ahead. (Elan Valley Aqueduct – “The Pipe” slips quietly past the heights, left, of Bringewood and Deep Wood

on its 2½ feet a mile descent over 73 miles.)

2. Pass up to L of New House Farm, with its wonderful views. Go through gate below R of new barn and T immediately R through gate.  Go down pasture to R edge, then up slightly through next gate

in corner. Keep along R edge at bottom of next pasture, for about 150m to pass through second gate (R) in field, marked public bridleway. Carry on down favouring right, then bearing a little L along fairly obvious path through bracken into Nunfield Gutter.

Look out for (deer and) metal gate up to R. Go through and follow R fence 100m, bear L up to waymarked gate , R of shack.

3. Go through gate. TR along footpath, for 25m. Bend L steeply down through Monstay Rough (trees). When you meet a much broader crossing path after about 75m (careful), continue down ahead (not

R or L) on a very narrow, perhaps overgrown path, bearing very slightly R, then straight down.  This path becomes a little broader and clearer. Cross two stiles into pasture with fine views. Go straight down through waymarked gate, along R edge of next, more

level pasture, over stile on to country lane at Pipe Aston. TR to

4. Halfway House. (Take a little detour  (L) past Pipe Aston Farm to St Giles Church, Whalley House and Greenaway Cottage. Members of the Deakin family are buried in five small graveyard plots.)

Return. TL along hedged, broad track. After about 300m, go through gate on R, to follow L edge of arable field. At top L edge, cross two stiles. Keep ahead in big pasture, down over stile, not as far as its corner, into next, big pasture. Cross next stile,

narrow pasture and stile into copse. Go slightly R, over stile in hedge, on to road.

5. TR, with a glimpse of Burrington Lake. Pass Mistletoe House, to junction in Burrington. TR to church.

With thanks for help with our story to Nicola Goodwin.