Tales of lucky pigeons and harsh sentences

1786 – Executed for Arson at Kilpeck

Susannah Minton, a 17 year old girl who was born and lived in Kilpeck was described as being simple, and worked as a servant at the house of Paul Gwatkin.

Susannah had watched her mistress Anne Gwatkin  “exhibit some articles of finery”, (namely some handkerchiefs, caps and other such things) and she was overcome with a desire to own some of them;  to this end, she decided to create a diversion by setting fire to a barn close to the house in the hope that everyone would rush to the fire leaving her way clear to steal things.

The ruse worked and she managed to take the box containing the finery, but the fire destroyed a great deal of barley, oats, feed clover and hay.

She was executed on 16th September 1786.

1789 – Greenway Brook Claims a Life

In May 1789, William Marsh described as a “poor old man”, was found drowned at Kilpeck in the shallow Greenway Brook.

He had apparently been drunk the night before, and it was assumed that he tumbled into the brook and was too inebriated to climb out.

1820 – Pigeons Win Shooting Match at Kilpeck

Two men laid enormous bets on who could shoot the most out of six pigeons each – the umpire confirmed that the men were of equal capabilites and so it proved in a hilarious manner.

The first competitor managed to miss all six of his birds, and the other was supremely confident that he would be the winner.  However, his aim was similarly abysmal and the result was a total of twelve free pigeons and two embarrassed men!

1828 – Improved Threshing Machine

Peter Watkins, a Millwright, greatly improved the performance of the humble but essential threshing machine, and the result could be seen in full working order at Kilpeck.

Old machines needed five horses to operate them, whereas this one worked happily with only three.  Also safety measures had been incorporated, which involved a spring wheel in the horse wheel, so that if the horses suddenly stopped the machine would gradually come to a halt which limited the danger to the horses.

The workings of the new threshing machine were incredibly simple, so that if something should go wrong it would be the work of a moment to repair it.

1853 – Railway Accident

Mary Davies, a 63 year old woman from Kilpeck, was walking along the railway lines on her way to Hereford market.

She negotiated the Haywood tunnel then heard the approach of wagons behind her;  she had been told previously to step outside the tracks in this event, but she panicked and turned the wrong way so that she was knocked over.  Unfortunately one foot lay across the rail, and the wagons went over it.

Some railway workers carried her three miles to the Infirmary where her foot was amputated, but at least she survived.

1855 – Schooling Improved in Kilpeck Area

There was a very marked improvement in the state of education in the area;  not long before this time, there was no accessible school near Kilpeck and the best that children could hope for by way of education was an assembly in a village cottage to receive rudimentary schooling.

By 1855, no child was more than two miles from a school, although the learning was still not brilliant.

1858 – Annual Picnic at the Red Lion Inn

Mr. Johnson was lucky with the weather this year, and a great many people attended his annual picnic.

People came from far and wide, and were rewarded with a splendid evening of entertainment including a visit to the old Norman church and the ruins of the castle.

A big marquee had been erected in front of the Red Lion, where a sumptious feast was laid out;  following tea, there was dancing until dark when people went indoors to continue to enjoy themselves.