Tales of Trespass, fire and the perils of gin
1836 – Sad Event at Coddington Rectory
At the end of October 1836, the wife of the Rev. John Hughes M.A. gave birth to a son, who survived for just a few hours.
1847 – The Perils of Gin
John Parker, a waggoner aged 39 and single, in the employ of Mr. Kendrick, went to plough a field. Mr. Kendrick offered him some gin (eh?? in the morning?) and he accepted, then asked for more which was given. Each measure was in a cup which holds nearly two wine glasses, although the cup was not filled to the top.
John then went to get the horses out of the stables, but never returned and was found half an hour later found by Mr. Kendrick lying in the straw. He left John for a couple of hours before going back to check, when he found him with his head tucked into his chest; Mr. Kendrick raised him up but he died in his arms.
Mr. Griffin, a surgeon from Ledbury, opined that death was caused by suffocation from the position that he was in, coupled with the effect of the gin.
1848 – Trespass in Pursuit of Game
Thomas Bowers of Colwall was charged with trespassing on the land of William Calder of Coddington whilst in the pursuit of game. He was fine £1 with 10s costs.
1857 – Fire at Moorfields House
Late one Sunday evening in October, the inhabitants of Ledbury were woken by the ringing of the fire bell, an alarm having been brought by messenger that Moorfields House at Coddington, the residence of Henry Vale, was on fire.
The fire brigade speedily mustered, and two engines set off as fast as they could given the weather. In spite of their lamps, the night was so dark, and the rain came down in such torrents, that galloping was out of the question, and a trot was even dangerous!
They eventually arrived at Moorfields, to discover only a small fire in an attic room, which they quickly put out.
The cause of the fire was thought to have originated from a candle which set light to a servant’s dress hung by the side of the bed.
Henry Vale was not reported in a good light after this incident, as the Hereford Times showed:
“…….having got a regular ducking in Mr. Vale’s service, most of the parties present (nine tenths of whom had travelled nearly five miles in the wet) had an idea that some sort of refreshment would have been provided for them; and such, indeed, was the case, but it was accompanied by an order that those who required cider were to go and wait in the rain in an open courtyard. Some small beer was also provideed for (as Mr. Vale described them) “those who had worked so as to deserve it”, and to crown all, several of the tradesmen of the town who were in the kitchen trying to make themselves comfortable under such distressing circumstances, with a little tobacco, were ignominiously ordered out of the house.
The reporter asked whether it was right that those who went with the intention of doing good to their neighbour should have been treated in such a manner. It was said that if ever a fire happened again at Mr. Vale’s house, he would have to ask further afield for aid.
A most worthy inhabitant of Coddington, in an effort to calm the disgust, directed that those persons “belonging to the lower orders” who had helped with the fire, should be treated with whatever they wanted, and that he would pay for it. This small party of people arrived home in the early hours of the morning, wet, hungry and thirsty without having had any thanks or even acknowledgement of their services from Mr. Vale.
1867 – Sad Death on the Road to the Workhouse
John Price aged 70, had been lodging at Coddington when he decided to admit himself to the Ledbury Workhouse.
A lad named Kendrick obtained a donkey cart in order to take him, and John seemed to be in good health, however just a mile into the journey he got down from the cart and had to be helped back in by the lad and another boy. They put a rug around him, but he became unwell and lay down. At Beggar’s Ash, the lad spoke to him but got no answer, and the old man was found to be dead.
The body was taken to the Master of the Workhouse, and the surgeon, Mr. Griffin, thought that he died from heart disease with which he had suffered for some time.
1871 – Centenarian at Coddington
John Jenkins of Coddington died on 25th March 1871 aged an incredible 107 years.
John had lived with his daughter (herself 85) in a small mud hut near Coddington Cross and was formerly a farm labourer. He retained all his faculties up until his death, and was a heavy smoker!