Colwall is the latest VCH ‘Short’ from Herefordshire series of the Victoria County History (VCH), published by the University of London Press. VCH Shorts are accessible histories which present high-quality VCH research for the general reader, focused on a particular place or topic, drawing out elements of wider interest and significance, with plenty of full colour illustrations and maps.

If you’re interested in cider, church ale houses and Iron Age hillforts, this book is for you!

Colwall parish stretches down the western slopes of the Malvern Hills on the south eastern corner of Herefordshire up against the county’s border with Worcestershire, four miles north east of Ledbury. The village sits below the dominating and dramatic Iron Age British Camp, or Herefordshire Beacon, which is its most famous and important monument.

From the top of this massive hill fort an exhilarating view of the landscape of hedged fields, cottages and small housing estates can be surveyed. Colwall was dominated by the bishops of Hereford, whose manor included the whole parish at the time of the Norman conquest and who dominated landholding in the parish until 1868.

Colwall is an unusual Herefordshire parish. Its population has grown substantially since the mid 19th century. This is partly because of its proximity to the important spa resorts of Malvern Wells, West Malvern and Great Malvern. The attractions of the Malvern Hills and the opening of the railway from Hereford to Worcester in 1861 brought tourists to Colwall. This encouraged the development of a race course and the bottling of spring water.

Like many Herefordshire parishes Colwall has a wonderful range of ‘black and white’ timber-framed cottages, farmhouses and barns. Its medieval church sits next to its early-16th century church ale house, a rare survivor from pre-Reformation England that now serves as the village hall. Several fine Arts and Crafts villas and houses from the late 19th and early years of the 20th century complement these earlier buildings.

This beautifully illustrated book provides a welcome account of the landscape, social, economic and religious history of the parish and at the same time celebrates the landscape with which poets and artists such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Dame Laura Knight – one of whose paintings of the parish graces the cover – had such strong associations.

Colwall is the third VCH ‘Short’ for Herefordshire, following Eastnor (2013) and Bosbury (2016). You can either email the Victoria County History for Herefordshire Trust to buy direct from them (at a special price of £10 until 31 August) or order from University of London Press as a full colour paperback. For more information on the VCH Herefordshire project visit our webpages.