Floods are nothing new in Herefordshire

1824 – Dreadful Flooding Affects Letton

Prolonged heavy rain during December caused the River Wye to burst its banks all along its course to the river Severn.

The highest flood levels for 26 years devastated every part of the country through which the river runs, and the water continued to rise at a speed never seen before.  It was so rapid that there was no time to try to take precautions and vast quantities of timber, apples, fencing and animals could be seen passing down the flood.

At Letton, a farmer lost nearly all his fruit which would have made 20 hogsheads of cider.

Mail Coach overwhelmed by Floods near Letton

The London Mail coach was on its way to Hay from Hereford with three passengers, the coachman and a guard, and having already had to divert from the Whitney road to the Bredwardine bridge, the driver proceeded cautiously.  Unfortunately the force of the river had washed away the surface of the road to nearly six feet and the four horses lost their footing.

Men from Letton Race to Help

The coach and the horses were forced up against a bank, and it was fortunate that the passengers were all on the outside – here they stayed until a boat was brought on a dray from Letton, whereupon they were rescued just as they thought that death was certain, and the mail was saved.

The coachman had jumped into the water, which although he was a tall man reached up to his chin, and with immense bravery, often being swept off his feet but clinging on to the harness, he managed to cut all the traces and release the horses.  Tragically his efforts were in vain and after a terrible two hours the horses drowned.

A man who had ridden into the water to help was unseated when his horse stumbled into the deep water, but he luckily was driven against the coach wheel and the guard and passengers dragged him on to the roof.  A happy ending for his horse, which was able to swim across the torrent and was later found a mile away unharmed.

Huge praise was given to those from Letton who rushed to help, as well as Mr. Benton the coachman;  Mr. Morgan the guard, and all the passengers.

Mr. Benton became extremely unwell due to his strenuous exertions and mental torment at not being able to save the horses.

1830 – Death of Joseph Blisset of Letton

On 12th October 1830 Joseph, eldest surviving son of Joseph Blisset of Letton, died aged 24.

“Possessing a strong and cultivated mind, an upright and a liberal heart, he gained the love of all and lived an ornament to the society in which me moved;  whilst a firm reliance on the mercies of his God and Saviour enabled him to meet death with Christian fortitude in the bosom of his afflicted family

1847 – Child Survives Terrible Burns at Letton

A three year old child, the daughter of William Powell of Letton, was lucky to escape death when her clothes caught fire.

Fortunately with much treatment the child survived, although she would be forever badly disfigured by the burns.


1850 – Fatal Fight at Letton

John Cumpton had a fight with a man named Prosser after both of them had been drinking heavily.

John was a labourer, and had been working leveling ground and filling ditches near the workhouse at Weobley, returning to Letton every night.

One day he was at work as usual, and along with others he went to a cider house in Weobley when rain stopped their work.  They had a gallon of cider each (!) before going back to their place of work where they started larking around, but the play fighting turned nasty when John Cumpton and James Prosser had words, and a serious fight broke out.

They scuffled together and fell down, and one of the number helped John to get up but he was very unsteady so they propped him up against a bank where he said that his neck hurt and he wanted to go.  A cart was sent for, and John Cumpton was taken to Sally’s, a pub in Kinnersley where he was given a glass of beer before his parents arrived to take him home.

At the inquest, the surgeon said that he thought the cause of death was an injury to the spine brought about by the fall during the fight.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against James Prosser, but at the trial the judge ruled that the deceased was the aggressor and James Prosser was given a mere three days in gaol, which was later waived.

1851 – Horrible Fight between Police and Poachers at Letton

For some time, Letton and surrounding villages had been suffering the attentions of violent poachers who went about in gangs of ten or twelve.

Night after night they set out armed with guns in pursuit of game, not because they were poor or out of work but just for the hell of it, and when encountering gamekeepers were extremely threatening.

Eventually one landowner, Brampton Gurdon, called for the help of the police, being concerned about the increasing violence, threats and use of guns by the poachers.

Superintendent Parker with a dozen rural police went from Swaffham to Letton Park, and Constable Noller being a strong powerful man, went over to aid the county police.  Every day for a week they lay in wait at night, whilst hearing the gunshots of the poachers in the distance.

Eventually one Saturday night, they managed to ambush the poachers who immediately fired at the policemen.  Superintendent Parker was hit in the face and was very badly hurt, and Constable Greenacre was shot in the shoulder and face.

The rest of the police and two keepers rushed to the poachers and a terrible fight ensued with the poachers using large clubs.  Although the poachers eventually fled, most of them were apprehended either on the road or in their own houses and one or two of them had been injured severely.

1853 – Hurricane and Floods in Herefordshire

Overnight at the end of December 1852, a hurricane hit Herefordshire, which was followed by torrential rain.

At Letton the floods were “fearful”, and when the Mail coach eventually was given the go ahead to go through, the water was up to the shoulders of the horses and the passenger inside was thoroughly soaked.

1890 – Archaeological Discovery at Letton

In a pond next to an old moat at Letton Hall, the seat of Mr. R.T. Gurdon MP, a fragment of masonry that could have been part of a frieze was discovered.

On it were some heraldic devices, a quiver with arrows and bows and some bezants below.  Repeated several times in florid letters of the Elizabethan period were the words “Help handis”