Weobley has an absolute wealth of beautiful black and white buildings

At one time there was a castle which is reputed to have been built by the de Lacy family towards the end of the eleventh century, but that fell into ruin and has now totally disappeared,  probably due to the fact that villagers helped themselves to the stones in order to build their own houses!

Weobley is home to one of Herefordshire’s biggest and most impressive timber houses – the Ley which was built in 1589.

There was a range of industry in the past, with thriving shops; Weobley found wealth in the wool trade and then became famous for making ale, gloves and nails, although the nail factory burned to the ground in 1943.

Charles 1 visited Weobley in 1645 after the battle of Naseby, staying at The Unicorn which was a coaching house. It was renamed The Throne in honour of the king’s visit, and still stands although it is now a private house. The “new” Unicorn pub, built in the 17th century specialised in home made cider from its own orchard; help with harvesting the apples was rewarded with tokens for spending in the pub!

The Domesday Book referred to Weobley as Wibelai – Wibba being a sixth century Saxon chief, and ley meaning a forest clearing.

In the 20th century there was a devastating fire in Broad Street which coupled with the alleged fact that the Marquess of Bath had at least 4o buildings taken down, meant that Weobley dramatically decreased in size!  The destroyed area is now a garden.

Churches of Weobley


Buildings in Weobley

  • Weobley Union Workhouse

    The Workhouse at Weobley was built in 1837 at White Hill, and the building still exists but became the home of the Council Offices and has now been converted into flats.

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  • Garnstone Castle - History

    Background – before Garnstone Castle was built.

    In the mid 16th century the Garnstone estate was granted to trustees by James Tomkyns for his own use along with his wife Margery, and his descendants remained there until 1661.  At this time it became part of the settlement made upon Anne Tomkyns on her marriage to Roger Vaughan, and it was sold to Colonel Birch, a successful officer in Cromwell’s army.

    Colonel Birch was originally a pack horse driver, travelling and trading his own goods, and he was so successful at defending these goods from Parliamentarians that he was noticed by Cromwell.  Cromwell was so impressed that he offered Birch a commission in his troop, and in 1645 Colonel Birch managed to capture Hereford which pleased Parliament no end.  He later became MP for Leominster and later Weobley until 1691 when he died.


    Samuel Peploe (1)

    Samuel Peploe was educated at Oxford University and was ordained a priest in 1692;  becoming Vicar of Preston, Lancashire in 1700.  He had a hatred of the Jacobites, which was further fuelled by the damage that they did to his property and his loyalty to the government eventually ensured his nomation to Bishop of Chester in 1725.  When he died in 1752 his son John succeeded him as warden of Manchester and inherited the Garnstone estate.


    John Peploe Birch b. 1742 – 1805

    Married Anne Clowes b. 1743,  a girl who was not without her own means.  John’s father Samuel (above) had left Garnstone estate to him in trust, to be inherited at the age of 21 provided that John adopted the surname Birch.  This he did, keeping Peploe as his middle name.

    This couple never appeared to live at  Garnstone, preferring to live in Barnstone or London despite the fact that John was appointed High Sheriff of Herefordshire.  However John left Garnstone Estate to Anne who lived for several more years, and both of them were buried at Weobley.

    John and Anne’s son, Samuel, inherited the Garnstone Estate.




    garnstone 2









    Garnstone Castle

    Designed by John Nash and built in 1807 for Samuel Peploe, Garnstone Castle was an extremely large and rather beautiful building with its Gothic towers, battlements and stunning views which was constructed to impress rather than for defence purposes.  ( Eastnor Castle was another example of this.)  Materials were sourced from the estate, and bricks were made locally – green sandstone was used for the seven inch courses, but eventually this was proved to be a mistake as it was too soft and it needed replacing in later years.  There were other flaws in the design, including the use of lead for the vast flat roof…….this leaked dreadfully especially after heavy snowfall, necessitating much manpower and many hours to clear the snow from the roof, using specially designed shovels.

    All the floors were made of oak from the grounds, and oak was also used for the doors …… no expense was spared on the interior;  however, the cost of coal to heat this vast building was enormous and over the years the drain on the family’s finances must have been considerable.

    The mansion stood on a gentle slope with magnificent views in all directions.  On the south side of the house was a beautiful flower garden with numerous roses and herbaceous plants, bordered by an iron railing beyond which was the deer park and rookery.  This was said to be one of the finest parks in England, and there was a herd of some 200 Black deer – not a breed as such but a variant in the same way that white deer can sometimes occur in herds, and very rare.

    In the grounds were magnificent cedars, ancient oaks and elms, and there was a splendid avenue of 22 Wellingtonias bordering the drive up to the Castle.

    There was an extensive kitchen garden, which although positioned well with regard to the house was north facing and therefore not altogether productive.  There were however many good fruit trees, as well as two vineries;   one peach house and a fig house.


    There were 17 farms all with good tenants with the rental amounting to around £7,300 a year.


    Samuel Peploe (2)

    Born in 1774 in Lancashire, Samuel married Katherine Frances, daughter of Sir George Cornewall, 2nd Bart. Of Moccas Court, Herefordshire

    Samuel was educated at Eton, and took a great interest in music and the arts;   later he took the trouble to learn both French and Italian and was fluent in these languages – he was a most charming and considerate man, never talking down to those in lower walks of life yet comfortable in the company of high society.  He was a philanthropist, donating large sums of money to local causes and took a keen interest in the Weobley school for the poor, as an example – he provided a sumptuous dinner of roast beef and plum pudding along with good cider for the children when they had finished their exams.

    He was described as one of the County’s most distinguished gentleman, who as a Magistrate showed great wisdom which was always guided by justice;   he was an eminent agriculturist and had a fine flock of sheep including Ryelands, Leicester and Southdowns.  In 1841 he was elected Governor of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.  Samuel also became Lord Lieutenant 1840

    Samuel was a liberal and enlightened landlord, earning himself great respect and love from friends and tenants alike.

    Samuel Peploe died in April 1845  and although he had been ill  for some time it was sudden and unexpected,  indeed in 1844 it was reported that his health was much improved and there were hopes of a good recovery.


     Royal Grants


    Copied from the Gazette on 23rd May

    The Queen has been pleased to grant unto Daniel Peploe Webb of Garnstone in the county of Hereford, eldest son and heir of Daniel Webb of Audley Square in the county of Middlesex, deceased, her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may (in compliance with a direction in the last will and testament of the said Samuel Peploe) henceforth take and use the surname of Peploe only, instead of that of Webb, and bear the arms of Peploe quarterly, in the first quarter, with those of his own family;  such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the Heralds’ Office, otherwise the said licence and permission to be void and of none effect”.


    Copied from The Edinburgh Gazette, 20th July

    The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto John Birch Webb, Clerk, Vicar of Weobley, in the county of Hereford, and of Garnstone, in the said county, second but eldest surviving son and heir of Daniel Webb, of Audley Square, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, deceased, by Anne, his Wife, Sister of Samuel Peploe, of Garnstone aforesaid, Esquire, deceased, Her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may (in. compliance with A proviso contained in the last will and testament of the said Samuel Peploe,)- henceforth take and use the surname of Peploe” only, instead of that of Webb, and bear the arms of Peploe quarterly, in the first quarter, with those of his own family; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the College of Arms, otherwise the said licence to be void and of none effect: And also to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be recorded in Her Majesty’s College of Arms.


    Daniel Peploe Peploe

    Daniel Peploe Peploe was appointed High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1846 at a Court held in Buckingham Palace and he then arrived for the Lent Assizes in an elegant carriage drawn by four superb horses, and escorted by many representatives of the principal families in Herefordshire;  the Garnstone tenantry; the most respectable citizens and numerous attendants which formed a cavalcade of vehicles and horsemen not seen since the revered Thomas Andrew Knight of Downton Castle filled the office of High Sheriff.


    1851 Garnstone Castle Household

    Daniel P. Peploe 57 Half pay Officer, unattached;  Magistrate b. Middlesex
    Thomas Humphries 35 Butler b. Rugely, Staffordshire
    James Cox 26 Under Butler b. Hereford
    William Gibbs 26 Footman b. Wiltshire
    William Hemmings 36 Coachman b. Warwickshire
    William Winney (?) 25 Groom b. Eardisland, Herefordshire
    John Thomas 26 Helper in stables b. Madley, Herefordshire
    Frances Fennell 50 Housekeeper b. Middlesex
    Augusta L. Watts 31 Cook b. Marylebone, Middlesex
    Mary Owens 29 Laundry Maid b. Herefordshire
    Elizabeth Howells 35 Upper House Maid b. Peterchurch, Herefordshire
    Margaret Jones 24 Kitchen Maid b. Middlesex
    Sarah Fennell 31 Upper Stillroom Maid b. Gloucestershire
    Eliza Bamfield 21 Under Stillroom Maid b. Kentchurch, Herefordshire
    Ann Grubb 24 Under House Maid b.  Monkland, Herefordshire
    Ann Harris 20 Scullery Maid b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire


    1861 Garnstone Castle Household

    Daniel P. Peploe 58 Gentleman and Deputy Lieutenant b. Dudley Square, London
    Thomas Humphries 44 Butler b. Church Stretton, Salop
    William Gibbs 37 Upper Footman b. Wiltshire
    Daniel Hill 24 Under Butler b. St. Nicholas, Hereford
    Thomas Lee 30 Coachman b. Sittingbourne, Kent
    Frederick Osborne 20 Groom b. St. Georges, Kent
    Isaac Staggs 22 Helper in stables b. Hollingsbury, Kent
    Andrew Hathaway 15 Boy in stables b. Ludlow, Salop
    Sarah 68 Housekeeper b. Wiltshire
    Augusta L. Watts 40 Cook b. Marylebone, London
    Charlotte Jones 36 Stillroom Maid b. Holyhead, North Wales
    Mary Harris 25 Laundry Maid b. Dilwyn, Herefordshire
    Harriett A. Hill 39 Housemaid b. Lambeth, London
    Mary Webster 26 Under Housemaid b. Staffordshire
    Jane Price 21 Under Housemaid b. Moccas, Herefordshire
    Ann Harris 30 Kitchen Maid b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire
    Caroline Greaving 21 Scullery Maid b. Hadley, Suffolk


    Daniel Peploe Peploe (2)

    Born in 1829 to the Reverend John Birch Peploe and Annie Molyneaux,  the second Daniel Peploe was educated at Rugby and then Trinity College.

    He married Eliza Theophilia Debonnaire in Ludlow, Shropshire – he was a Major in the 4th Dragoon Guards and served in the Crimea War.

    Daniel was also a J.P. and was an MP for Hereford between 1874 and 1889

    He died 4th November 1887 in Florence, Italy, his will being proved by his wife Eliza and Daniel Henry Theophilus Peploe, his son, who were the executors.  The estate amounted to £25,619 16s 6d.

    1871 Garnstone Castle Household

    Daniel P. Peploe 42 Landowner b. Weobley, Herefordshire
    Eliza D. Peploe 34 Wife b. East Indies
    Daniel H. T. Peploe 9 Son b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire
    Fitzgerald C Peploe 8 Son b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire
    Evelyn Peploe 5 Daughter b. Holmer, Herefordshire
    Marie Meyer 30 Governess b. Switzerland
    Elise Huber 18 Nurse b. Switzerland
    Jeannie 36 Ladies Maid b. Switzerland
    David Green 33 Butler b. Poland
    Charles Taylor 25 Under Butler b. Berkshire
    Welbaine Abbey 25 Footman b. Middlesex
    William Mather 20 Page b. Knighton, Herefordshire
    Samuel Purdy 43 Coachman b. Norfolk
    Richard 23 Groom b. Middlesex
    Francis Hart 25 Stableman b. Bedfordshire
    Thomas Davis 24 Stableman b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire
    William Miles 29 Stableman b. Hereford
    Margaret Rilbrick 64 Housekeeper b. Bolton, Lancashire
    Mary Holiday 55 Housemaid b. Haverfordwest, Pembroke
    Rosanna Bishop 21 Housemaid b. Bristow, Herefordshire
    Emily Malpas 20 Housemaid b. Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
    Elizabeth Gibbs 24 Laundry Maid b. Hereford
    Harriett Rogers 18 Under Laundry Maid b. Sarnesfield, Herefordshire
    Harriett Howell 34 Cook b. Suffolk
    Sarah Jeannie 24 Kitchen Maid b. Little Chesterfield
    Mary Hodges 26 Still room Maid b. Bodenham, Herefordshire
    Emily Pugh 20 Scullery Maid b. Kinnersley, Herefordshire
    Thomas Carpenter Baker b. Hereford
    Annie M Perdy 45 Dressmaker b. Berkshire


    Fitzgerald Cornwall Peploe

    Daniel Peploe’s son, Fitzgerald Cornwall Peploe was born 3rd September 1862, and shunning the British Army to the disgust of his father he travelled to Canada to learn about farming.  His heart however was not in it, and finally he followed his dream and his talent to study sculpture in Florence, then Paris and Rome.  He became an extremely accomplished sculptor, and settled in New York where he produced some outstanding works including a bust of Lady Randolph Churchill.

    He never married, and rumour has it that he was a little over fond of the drink – then again what great artist didn’t have their vices.

    He died aged just 45 of heart disease and was buried at the Kensico Cemetery, New York.


    The following two census returns showed the castle being manned by a skeleton staff.


    1881 Garnstone Castle Household

    Mary A. Lane 29 Housekeeper b. Glamorganshire
    Mary Price 26 Laundry Maid b. Canon Pyon, Herefordshire
    Eliza Williams 21 Laundry Maid b. Kings Pyon, Herefordshire
    Alice Walker 20 Housemaid b. Hereford

    1891 Garnstone Castle Household

    Mark Biggs 40 Gardener b. Middlesex
    Catherine Biggs 39 Wife b. Norfolk
    Gilbert Biggs 12 Son b. Weobley, Herefordshire
    Alice Mary Biggs 11 Daughter b. Weobley, Herefordshire
    Ernest Richard Biggs 9 Son b. Weobley, Herefordshire
    Elizabeth Sarah Bounds 16 Domestic Servant b. Norton Canon, Herefordshire

    1901 Garnstone Castle Household

    Sir Joseph Verdin 63 Living on own means b. Northwich, Cheshire
    Mary Verdin 67 Sister b. Northwich, Cheshire
    J.M. Crighton Browne 35 Niece b. Lanes, Liverpool
    Gladys M. Crighton Browne 5 Great Niece b. Regents Park, London
    Cecil H.V. Crighton Browne 4 Nephew b. Sloane Street, London
    Maria Middleton 34 Cook b. Derbyshire
    Mary Williams 28 Ladies Maid b. Anglesey
    Sara Ann Howman 35 Ladies Maid b. Albrighton, Salop
    Louisa Howard 22 Kitchen Maid b. Wakefield, Yorkshire
    Mary Davies 32 Head Housemaid b. Knighton, Radnorshire
    Nellie Skinner 21 Housemaid b. Wolverton, Buckinghamshire
    Cecilia Jones 29 Laundry Maid b. Vauxhall Walk, London
    Emily Davidson 18 Laundry Maid b. Stokesay, Salop
    Shaly Wilson 21 Housemaid b. Kidderminster, Worcestershire
    Ann Higgins 18 Housemaid b. Salop
    Mary Ann Jones 19 Scullery Maid b. Bewdley, Worcestershire
    Hannah Gould 17 Nursery Maid b. Salop
    John Wilson 25 1st Footman b. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
    Chas Taylor 18 2nd Footman b. Belper, Derbyshire
    Henry Harrison 25 2nd Coachman b. Salop
    Geo. Downes 24 Groom b. Cheshire
    Arthur Lewis 17 Groom b. Bromyard, Herefordshire


    October 1899

    The whole of the Garnstone Castle estate was sold for £150,000 to  Joseph Verdin

    Sir Joseph Verdin at Garnstone Castle.

    Born on 4th January 1838 in Northwich, Chestire,  Joseph Verdin was a  JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire, becoming a Baronet in 1896 and knighted in 1897.

    Joseph Verdin & Sons Salt Business

    Along with his brothers, Joseph was involved in the extensive family salt business;  there were six salt plants employing a very large workforce and they were the largest salt manufacturers in Great Britain.  The brothers became very wealthy, and used some of their riches to help the local community, including educational facilities for their own workforce, and various infirmaries.  Things went well in the 1880s, but problems began to arise with subsidence in areas surrounding the brine pumps, and although Sir Joseph set up a trust to help compensate those affected by the subsidence, an Act in 1891 which provided compensation for property owners made the Trust pointless so he used the money to help various schools and hospitals etc.  Eventually the salt business was ruined by the formation of the Salt Union in 1888 and in the end, still a bachelor,  he and his sister Mary moved to Garnstone Castle in 1900 where he became JP for Herefordshire and then High Sheriff in 1903.

    Sir Joseph became a very popular country squire, sparing no expense in keeping up the estate and household and was something of a philanthropist.  A regular visitor to Garnstone Castle was Norman Verdin, the eldest son or Sir Joseph’s brother;  himself a JP for the county of Cheshire and Captain in the Cheshire Yeomanry, and heir to the childless Sir Joseph.


    Soldiers Returning from the War are Entertained at Garnstone Castle

    On 18th September the grounds of Garnstone Castle were opened to the ex service men of the Weobley district, first and foremost to welcome the demobilised men but also the residents from surrounding villages.  The band of the Hereford Working Boys Home played gamely throughout the afternoon, and there was much varied entertainment as well as organised races.

    Afterwards a good meat tea was served in a large marquee, including beef;  roast mutton;  hams;  tongues etc. and glorious puddings, which was followed by dancing.

    Sir Joseph replying to a speech of gratitude said that he had no wish to be thanked as he had only done what was his duty – to welcome home the men who had fought for the country.

    He remained at the Castle until his death in December 1920, his sister Mary having died in 1903.


    1911 Garnstone Castle Household

    Joseph Verdin 73 Private Means b. Northwich, Cheshire
    John Joseph Verdin Cooke 42 Nephew, Salt Proprietor b. Crewe, Cheshire
    Maria Middleton 45 Housekeeper, Cook b. Staveley, Yorkshire
    Ellen Wildman 33 Head Housemaid b. Staffordshire
    Louisa Wyatt 24 Second Housemaid b. Hansford, Staffordshire
    Sarah Ann Colley 20 Third Housemaid b. Weobley, Herefordshire
    Mary Louie Johnson 17 Fourth Housemaid b. Northwich, Cheshire
    Minnie Grace Baker 27 Head Laundry Maid
    Florence May Butter 20 Second Laundry Miad b. Kynaston, Herefordshire
    Margaret Florence Lynne 21 Kitchen Maid b. Exelby
    Louisa Bertha Webster 19 Scullery Miad
    Samuel Cork 31 Butler b. Hanley, Staffordshire
    Henry Woof 20 First Footman b. Lancashire
    Egbert Thomas Arnold 20 Second Footman b. Derby
    William George Gittings 14 Hall Boy b. Herefordshire


    Richard Norman Harrison Verdin


    In 1909 Richard Norman Harrison Verdin, educated at Harrow and Magdalen College Oxford, married Miss Alison Macfie Barbour of Bolesworth Castle near Chester, an event which the inhabitants of Weobley were keenly interested in, given that the pair would eventually take ownership of Garnstone Castle.

    Indeed Richard (known as Norman) proved to be as kind and philanthropic as his Uncle when he moved to Garnstone in 1931, and he became Chairman of the Weobley Parish Council and Chairman of the Managers of Weobley School.  He was also a President of the Three Counties Agricultural Show and sat on the boards of many local interests – maintaining interest in all activities until he died.

    He was survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter when he died on October 22nd 1956 aged 79,  but left unsettled estate of £137,322 0s 2d.  The settled land grant however,  had already been issued to Lt. Col Richard B. Verdin retired, of Nantwich, Cheshire.

    One year after probate was granted on the estate one final lavish ball was held before Garnstone Castle was demolished, perhaps because it was just too expensive to keep going.

    William Henry Verdin b. Northwich, Cheshire 1849 Landowner, Own Account
    Emily Jane Verdin b. Liverpool, Lancashire 1854 Wife, Home Duties
    Emily Gwendoline Verdin b. Winsford, Cheshire 1881 Daughter
    Isabella Allen b. Hutton, Berwickshire, Scotland 1882 Cook
    Florence Anne Pugh b. Bilston, Staffordshire 1889 Lady’s Maid
    Catherine Roberts b. Denbighshire 1875 Laundry Maid
    Nora Walker b. Leicestershire 1893 Housemaid
    Violet Florence Hill b. Gloucestershire 1898 Housemaid
    Rose Hewins b. Glamorganshire, Wales 1904 Housemaid
    Hannah Dower b. Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire, Wales 1904 Kitchenmaid
    Ada Parsons b. Herefordshire 1905 Scullerymaid
    Harold Cadwallader b. Jackfield, Shropshire 1905 Footman
    Cyril Palmer b. Whitchurch, Shropshire 1907 Hall Boy


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News from the Past Weobley