Bigamy, John Abell’s tomb and more

1846 – Unfortunate Victim of Double Accident at Sarnesfield

The son of Mr. Powell of Batch Farm, Sarnesfield Court, was going home with his father’s team of horses which were pulling a cart laden with flag stones from New Radnor.

When he started down Bilmoor’s Pitch, the brake slipper came away from beneath the wheel of the cart due to the poor state of the road caused by the recent heavy rains, and the cart ran forward unchecked.

The cart ran into the shaft horse which Powell Junior was holding by the bridle, and the poor animal fell, taking Powell with it;  he broke one of his legs in two places but he was very lucky not to have been killed.

His misfortune was not yet over though, because as he was being taken home on a light cart procured from Walton,  field workers saw him and rushed over to find out what had happened, and to ply him with cider and beer.  During the excitement the horse pulling the light cart (one that had been in the original accident, and was therefore in a nervous state no doubt) took fright and bolted for home, bouncing the cart and Mr. Powell Junior all over the place until it reached the wainhouse.

It was rather surprising that Mr. Powell survived this second incident, and was not dashed to pieces!

1848 – Common Cause of Death

This sort of thing happened time and time again, and was one of the most common causes of death of waggoners.

Thomas Preece, aged 15, had been sent by a Mr. Edwards of Pembridge for whom he was working, to fetch a plough from the blacksmith’s shop.

Thomas took a horse and cart, and decided to ride on the shafts (an illegal practice) – unfortunately the horse took fright and bolted, causing Thomas to fall off the shafts and under the wheels of the cart, where he was killed outright.

1851 – John Abell – Tombstone at Sarnesfield

John Abell, the celebrated builder from the time of James I and Charles I, had been buried in Sarnesfield Churchyard beneath a monument commissioned by himself at the age of 90.

John Abell was responsible for the Town Halls of Hereford and Leominster, the Butchers’ Hall in Hereford market and many other Herefordshire market houses.

He was considered an architect of great skill, but some people scorned his work saying that in many cases, i.e. Hereford Town Hall, he merely rebuilt what was already there, albeit with embellishments.

John Abell engraved his own effigy on his tomb, showing himself kneeling between his two wives with an inscription and the emblems of his occupation.  (The rule, compass and square).  However, in 1851 much of the inscription was worn away.

The inscription was not exactly brilliant in its poetry, but it has a simple charm:

“This craggy stone a covering is for an Architector’s bed,

That lofty buildings raised high, yet now lyes down his head:

His line and rule, so death concludes, are locked up in store.

Build they who list, or they who wist, for he can build no more.

His house of clay could hold no longer.

May heavens (????) frame him a stronger.”

John Abel


1857 – In Memoriam of John Abell

At a Town Council meeting in October 1857, a letter from Richard Parry of Kington was read out, in which he solicited subscriptions towards the renovation of John Abell’s tomb in Sarnesfield churchyard.

John Abell was described as the celebrated builder of the most remarkable wooden structures in the Kingdom, and of the town halls at Hereford, Leominster and Weobley in Herefordshire.

All of the Council members bar two subscribed 2s 6d each.

1860 – Case of Bigamy at Sarnesfield

Henry Le Jeune was working as a servant for Mr. Selwyn who lived at Sarnesfield Court, and while the family were up in London he secretly married one of the maids by the name of Maynal.

They married at the Catholic Chapel in Weobley, and when Mr. Selwyn returned home and discovered what had happened he sacked the pair of them.

Henry then went with his wife, Maynal, to her home in Yarm in North Yorkshire, where he procured £30 of her money in order to go to Middlesborough to start up a business.  However, he never returned and Maynal went to the police who eventually found him in London……..with a woman that he married in the previous December!

A warrant was obtained for his arrest and he was taken back to Hereford where he was committed for trial at the Assizes.