In the sixteenth century, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Manor of Nether Frome was purchased by Richard Harford of Bosbury, (later Sir Richard, described as a “Usurer” in parliament) and when he died, his widow Martha leased it to Michael Hopton from Ludlow whom she eventually married, and they built what was known then as the Strong House, a moated building, which event saw the beginning of some 300 years of Hopton ownership of the site. Michael Hopton himself died on 1st April 1668.

 

 

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In 1645, during the Civil War, the house came under siege by Cromwell’s Scottish army, and the residents had no choice but to demolish the medieval church in order to build defences.

The Hoptons at Canon Frome Court

After the war, the Royalist Sir Edward Hopton and his wife Deborah returned to what was left of the house and church. The church was eventually rebuilt in around 1680 (unusually for the time, in brick) but the only part of this second church that now remains is the tower, with the current church having been built by the Rev. John Hopton in about 1860 in memory of his wife and three of his daughters. He was the eighth generation of the Hopton family to live at Canon Frome Court, which was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. The Rev. John Hopton was actually John Parsons by birth, but his father had been willed the arms and name of Hopton in 1841, as well as the estate. He had 13 children, of which six had died by 1859.
Dating from around 1786 the present Canon Frome Court was built for Richard Cope Hopton and remained in the family until being bought by the Herefordshire County Council in 1952, who turned it into a school for 13-15 year olds. In 1978 the school was closed, and the Court once again changed hands. It is currently a commune, which is approached via a long driveway at the end of which are two large brick pillars dated 1905 (the ornate iron gates can still be seen but these days they are never closed). On top of these are two carvings – one of a Griffin’s head with a severed hand in its mouth, and the other of a chained Talbot hound, resting a paw on St. Andrews Cross. Both of these appear on the Hopton family crest.

 

 

 

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Richard Hopton

 

In 1829, it was reported that Richard Hopton, the second son of the Rev. J. Hopton, was a somnambulist and on this unfortunate occasion he managed to sleepwalk out of one of his bedroom windows and fell to the ground. Initial hysterical reports suggested that he was dead, but this was not the case. One of the servants heard him fall, and medical help was duly summoned – his worst injury was a broken collar bone, but he was rather badly bruised all over and probably was in an extreme state of shock having been so rudely awoken! However, a few years later in 1835, Richard suffered a burst blood vessel and died.

John Dutton Hunt Hopton

John Dutton Hunt Hopton was the only son of Captain John Dutton of Farnshill Park, Radnor, and when in 1899 he married Sybil Maude, the eldest daughter of Walter Mynors Baskerville of Clyro Court and granddaughter of John Hopton of Canon Frome, he was granted the name Hopton by Royal Licence.

He was by all accounts a very tall gentleman and was not only an excellent shot (shooting in the 1908 London Olympics) he was also a noted musician, being a Director of the Royal Academy of Music and a composer of many waltzes and songs. To further his love of playing the organ, he built a music room at the Court and commissioned an organ to be made by Jardines, who had also built the organs for the Cathedrals of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester.

John Dutton Hunt Hopton was the founder of the Army Rifle Association, Captain of the Army Eight, and Commandant of the first British Rifle team to visit Australia.  He was also Commandant of the School of Musketry, Hythe, and Chief Inspector of small arms.  On his own rifle range he did a great deal of experimental work with new ammunition.

1934 – Burial of Colonel John Dutton Hopton

Colonel Hopton of Canon Frome Court died on 6th June in 1934.  He had shot at Bisley for England on 36 occasions and in his Will he stated that we wished to be buried close to the 1500 yard firing point on the range at Canon Frome, regardless of whether the ground had been consecrated.

He hinted strongly that it would be a jolly good show if the Bishop did consecrate the patch, and indeed the Bishop of Hereford duly obliged as well as conducting the funeral service.

A hymn was sung, set to music by the Colonel who was an accomplished musician.

Later, a lovely white mausoleum was erected over his grave and it could be seen from a great distance as it was on the summit of a hill.

1940 – Sybil Maude Hopton, the wife of Colonel Hopton, died July 3rd 1940 and left instructions in her Will to be buried beside her husband on the rifle range.

 

The Hoptons down the years

October 1839, The Rev. J. Hopton’s wife, Grace Ann aged 53, died at Canon Frome Court.
September 1841, Grace Anne eldest daughter of above aged 30, married James Poole of the Homend, Ledbury
October 1855 the late Miss M.P. Hopton bequeathed £100 to Hereford General Infirmary.
June 15th 1857, death of Anna Maria, youngest daughter of Rev. John Hopton
December 1870 the death of Rev. John Hopton aged 88
November 18th 1875 marriage of Walter Thomas Baskerville, of Clyro Court Radnorshire to Bertha Maria, only child of John Hopton of Canon Frome Court and Kemerton Court, Glos.
November 10 1876 death of charles Edward Hopton aged 52 youngest son of the late Rev. John Hopton
April 1879 the death of Rev. William Parsons Hopton , born 1802, and son of the late William Hopton of CFC and Kemerton Court. He was the oldest encumbent in the diocese of Hereford. In 1858 was appointed a Prebendary of Hereford; he was a Magistrate and deputy lieutenant for Herefordshire and took a prominent part in the affairs of the county. In 1830 he married Diana Christian, daughter of the late Rev. W. Shuckburgh of the Moot, Downton, Wilts. He leaves three children, Edward, Lft. Colonel 88th regiment (Connaught Rangers), Michael, Vicar of Canon Frome, and Diana, married to Mr. Charles Eales of Eastdon, Devon.
7th March 1891 death of John Hopton aged 82

Will of John Hopton

Valued at £50,871 8s 9d proved by the Executors Colonel Edward Hopton and the Rev. Michael Hopton, to each of whom the testator bequeaths the sum of £200. To his nieces Gwendoline, Winifred and Mauda, daughters of the testators late brother Charles, £100 each, and to his foreman, butler and coachman, £100 each. The testator devises his real estate in the counties of Gloucestershire and Worcester to the same uses as the real estate settled on the marriage of his only child Bertha Maria, with Mr. Walter Thomas Mynors Baskerville; but the person entitled is always to bear the name and quarter the arms of Hopton. The residue of the late Mr. Hopton’s estate is left to his daughter, Mrs. Baskerville, for life, with power of appointment to her in favour of her children, or in default of appointment, for her two daughters Sybil and Dorothy
May 1893
Christie, Manson and Woods – auctioneers of repute – advertised the forthcoming sale of the late John Hopton’s cellar of wines, which included ports of the vintage 1858 and 1863, plus sherry and Madeira.
September 1897
W.T.M Baskerville of CFC and Clyro Court Radnorshire, died at his Radnorshire seat at the age of 58. The eldest son of the late Thomas Baskerville, a former MP for Herefordshire, who assumed the surname Baskerville in lieu of Mynors, the deceased was born in 1839 and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1864 on the death of his father he took over the extensive estates in Herefordshire and Radnorshire

1857 Evesham Agricultural Show classes

Whilst perusing the results of the Evesham Agricultural Show for this year as many prominent families took pride in breeding champion stock, I was rather stunned to discover that amongst the classes for pigs, horses, cattle etc., there were also those for people! They were clearly considered less important than “Roots and vegetables” as they came below these on the list, and were under the heading “Labourers and Domestic Servants” and entries were submitted by the employers. The Hoptons were no exception, and in fact one of their “entries” won second prize.
Classes were as follows:
Class l.
Labourers, or labourers’ widows who had brought up the largest family without parochial relief. First prize £2
Class 2.
Labourers or servants who had served the greatest number of years for the same master or mistress and who would receive a good character from their employers.
Class 3.
Labourers as above, under 40 years of age.
Class 4.
As above, but under 20 years of age.
Class 5
Female servants, as class 2.
Class 6
Female domestic servants above 20 years of age who have lived on the same premises for the longest period, or with the same master or mistress, at yearly wages of not more than £12 and shall receive a good character.
Class 7
Female domestic servants as above under 20 years of age.
Class 8
To the Shepherd who has reared the greatest number of lambs for the same master or mistress with the least loss of ewes, in proportion to the number of ewes put to the tup, the flock not to be less than 40.
Classes 9 and 10 also were for shepherds.
It was striking that in many cases, no second or third places were awarded so one wonders if this was because employers simply couldn’t be bothered , or whether there were not enough worthy entrants. Certainly the prize money for the winners in each category was not to be sniffed at, and the labourers and domestic servants would no doubt have been very glad of it.

Canon Frome Court Household and servants in 1841 census

 

John Hopton b. 1786
Grace Anne Hopton b. 1816
Mary Hopton b. 1821
Susan Hopton b. 1821
Ellen Hopton b. 1826
John Graves b.1816
Lydia Graves b. 1821
Sarah Hill b. 1801
Margaretha Weber b. 1821
Hannah Rudd b. 1821
Mary Williams b. 1811
Elizabeth Jones b. 1816
Elizabeth Halford b. 1826
George Lowe b. 1811
Stephen Rowbury b. 1821
Samuel Floyd b. 1826

 

 

Canon Frome Court Household and servants in 1851 census

John Hopton b. 1783 Worcestershire Vicar of Canon Frome
Anna Maria Hopton b. 1823 Hereford Wife
John Buckle b. 1813 Chew Magna, Somerset Son in law
Ellen Elizabeth Buckle b. 1819 Stretton Grandison, Herefordshire Daughter
Unnamed grandchild Newborn, b. Canon Frome
Thomas Philpotts b. 1824 Ashperton, Herefordshire Coachman
Herbert James Breyer b. 1832 Ashperton, Herefordshire Groom
Marianne Pitt b. 1812 Preston Wynn, Herefordshire Housemaid
Ann Adams b. 1827 Tarrington, Herefordshire Dairymaid
Ann Gambling b. 1824 Chignall St. James, Essex Cook
Anna Holmes b. 1828 Knightwick, Worcestershire Housemaid
Ann Reding b. 1781 Ledbury, Herefordshire Nurse

 

Canon Frome Court Household and servants in 1861 census

 

John Hopton b. 1783 Chacely, Worcestershire Widower, Vicar of Canon Frome
Mary Hopton b. 1811 City of Hereford Daughter
Guy Trafford b. 1821 Son in law, late Captain of W. Yorkshire Militia
Caroline A. Trafford b. 1821 Herefordshire Daughter
Bertha M. Hopton b. 1848 Kemerton, Gloucestershire Grand daughter
Clare Trafford b. 1848 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Grand daughter
Henry Trafford b. 1854 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Grandson
Lionel Trafford b. 1856 Gibralter Grandson
Mary Catrill b. 1810 Milverton, Somerset Cook and Housekeeper
Jane Chamberlain b. 1836 Oxfordshire Lady’s Maid
Ann Hyett b. 1831 Ross on Wye, Herefordshire Housemaid
Mary Dyer b. 1822 Marden, Herefordshire Dairymaid
Harriett Hill b. 1835 Lugwardine, Herefordshire Laundrymaid
Fanny Walker b. 1841 Herefordshire Housemaid
Thomas Philpots b. 1821 Ashperton, Herefordshire Coachman
James Beavan b. 1842 Canon Pyon, Herefordshire Footman
William Pritchard b. 1831 Whitbourne, Herefordshire Groom
William Knapton b. 1845 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Servant
? Jones b. 1837 Newland, Gloucestershire Lady’s Maid
Susan Jones b. 1815 Donnington, Herefordshire Nurse

1871, the family were at their other property, Kemerton Court in nearby Gloucestershire

Canon Frome Court Household and servants in 1881 census

John Hopton b. 1810 Widower, Head
Mary Jane Hopton b. 1831 Canada Widow, sister in law
Gwendoline Hopton b. 1867 North Wales Niece
Maud Hopton b. 1869 South Wales Niece
Frances B. Bronches b. 1852 Lancashire Visitor
Caroline Dyson b. 1860 Fife Visitor
Anne Hughes b. 1847 South Wales Housekeeper
Charlotte Thomas b. 1852 Hampshire Housemaid
Sarah Richard b. 1856 Carmarthenshire Laundry Maid
Rosa Barnett b. 1860 Alderton, Gloucestershire Cook
Annie Elizabeth Thomas b. 1861 Woolhope, Herefordshire Housemaid
Laura Ellen Cale b. 1865 Ashperton, Herefordshire Kitchen Maid
James Mitchell b. 1860 Hanbury, Herefordshire Footman
Ernest George Summers b. 1863 Surrey Groom

 

Canon Frome Court Household and servants in 1891 census

Bertha M. Baskerville b. 1848 Kemerton, Gloucestershire Head
Sybil Maud Baskerville b. 1877 Clyro, Radnorshire Daughter
Dorothy Baskerville b. 1880 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Daughter
Mary Florence Todd b. 1866 Dalston Middlesex Governess
Edith Williams b. 1857 St. Martins, Worcestershire Housekeeper
Harriet E. Cox b. 1864 Thenford, Northamptonshire Domestic Servant
Charlotte Thomas b. 1853 Hampshire Domestic Servant
Milbrow Miles b. 1872 Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire Domestic Servant
Theresa Lumma b. 1872 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Domestic Servant
Befree Hawling b. 1861 Devon Domestic Servant
Frances G. Heath b. 1876 Canon Frome, Herefordshire Domestic Servant
Thomas Moreton b. 1872 Much Wenlock, Shropshire Servant
Thomas Barber b. 1870 Bishops Frome, Herefordshire Servant

 

Canon Frome Court Household and servant in 1911 census

 

John Hopton b. 1859 Stroud, Gloucestershire Army Colonel, retired
Sybil Hopton b. 1881 Clyro, Radnorshire Wife
Bengough Clarke b. 1860 Kegworth, Derbyshire Brother in law
Sara Voller b. 1871 Deptford, Surrey Housekeeper
Elizabeth Cox b. 1876 Northamptonshire Lady’s Maid
Robert Maylett b. St. Johns, Worcestershire Footman
Edward Frost b. 1893 Norwich, Norfolk Footman
Albert Bloomfield b. 1887 Munslow, Salop Chauffeur
Ethel Chambers b. 1891 Shucknall Hill, Herefordshire Scullery Maid
Harriet Beale b. 1887 Staffordshire Laundry Maid
Daisy Matthews b.1892 Lydbrook, Gloucestershire Housemaid
Belinda Miller b. 1888 Witney, Oxfordshire Kitchenmaid
Annie House b. 1889 Rugby, Warwickshire Housemaid
Mary Sole b. 1878 Wheaton Aston, Staffordshire Housemaid
Sarah Ring b. 1879 East Grinstead, Surrey Cook

Mary Sole b. 1878 Wheaton Aston, Staffs – Housemaid
Sarah Ring b. 1879 East Grinstead, Surrey – Cook