The River Wye at Breinton, Herefordshire

Breinton is a civil parish in Herefordshire, England.[1] Breinton lies just to the west of Hereford. The population of this civil parish was at the 2011 Census 836.[2] The name Breinton appears to be a modernised form of the word Bruntone, meaning a village near a flowing stream.

Breinton is a collection of hamlets two miles to the west of Hereford: Warham, Upper Breinton, Lower Breinton, Breinton Common and Veldifer; with a church (St. Michael’s)[1] and a Village Hall [2]. There are not many English parishes bordering a built-up city that are so rural and have changed so little in the last 1000 years [3]. In Breinton, one reason for that is the high quality of the deep red loam soils for agriculture and horticulture. Therefore, relatively few new buildings have been built on the valuable land since those shown on the 1839 tithe map. Another reason that Breinton remains rural is the beauty of the landscape, with vistas across hills, orchards, woods, and the valley of the River Wye. The parish boundary is irregular, but in general it encloses land between the River Wye and the A438 that runs from Hereford towards Brecon. Half the population of Breinton (726 adults in the 2011 Census) live on or close to Kings Acre Road (A438).


St. Michael's Church Breinton: close to the River Wye and the National Trust property of Breinton Springs

The long history of Breinton remains visible in the landscape. A mound with a moat, probably a moated building belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Hereford Cathedral around 1150AD, lies close to the Church at Breinton Springs (A National Trust property, SO 4726 3948)[4]. Nearby, the undulating ground in an orchard is thought to be a deserted medieval village [5], and a medieval settlement with 8 villagers at Warham [6] is also mentioned. Other archaeological features that have been identified include trackways, ridge and furrow, and evidence of old irrigation leats on the meadows that flood, close to the river Wye. St. Michael's church originated around 1200 AD, but was substantially rebuilt between 1866 and 1870 by F.R. Kempson, with architect James Cranston.[7] A few Norman parts remain, including the west doorway. Churchyard memorials include those of Dr. Henry Graves Bull (major contributor to an encyclopaedia of local apples and pears, the Herefordshire Pomona in 1884) Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club), Canon Charles Vincent Gorton (1854–1912, friend of Sir Edward Elgar), and Charles Dodgson (relative of Lewis Carroll, died 1941). More evidence of the historical ways of life is shown in the works of the artist Brian Hatton (1887–1916).[8] [9]. The locations of many of his rural scenes of Breinton that include old farm buildings and views of the countryside are still easily recognisable today. Details of archaeological and historic features can be found in Herefordshire Historic Environment Record Database.[10]

Agriculture and horticultureEdit

The fertile soils of Breinton have been important for agriculture, and also horticulture. Back in 1876 some of the best roses in the country were grown at Kings Acre Nurseries by Messrs. Cranston and Mayos, and Cranston's Nursery and Seed Co. Ltd. introduced new apples such as the King's Acre Pippin.[11]. There was a decline in orchards in the 1890s, but then Messrs. Bulmer developed varieties of cider apple and new techniques for orchard design and management.[12] [13] The Wyevale Nurseries,[14] still present today, were established in 1932 by Harry Williamson, who pioneered the innovation of container-grown plants. The nurseries and fields of Breinton still yield a wide range of high quality plants and trees; dessert and cider apples and pears; and cereals, vegetables and other crops.

Natural historyEdit

One of Breinton's ancient oak trees

The natural history of Breinton also reflects an ancient landscape. Field boundary hedges show a rich flora, and there are many notable and veteran trees, particularly oak and ash; plus ancient yews close to St. Michael's church. Some areas have been woodland at least since the earliest maps, and some fields have an unusual variety of arable weeds, including the uncommon Shepherd's Needle. The orchards are home to many mammals, birds and insects, including the rare Noble Chafer beetle.

Guided walksEdit

For visitors to Breinton, there are a number of guided walks to follow, offering further information about the landscape. For example, see:

Breinton Springs Walk (5.5 miles)

Breinton Springs is owned by the National Trust and is popular with visitors to Breinton. This circular walk can be accessed from Breinton Springs itself, or from Hereford city. Further details are on the link to the Herefordshire Council website [15]

Breinton Springs Walk (6.5 miles)

This country walk starts from Hereford cathedral, taking in Breinton Springs. Learn more about the history of Breinton, including Warham House and St. Michael's Church. See the link: [16]

The Breinton Cider Trail

A Ramblers Association walk from Breinton Springs car park (5.5 miles) Pass by the cider apple orchards of Breinton that house a rich diversity of wildlife, including woodpeckers and squirrels. See the links: [17][permanent dead link][18][permanent dead link]

Walk in the steps of Percy and Fred Bulmer (3.7 miles)

Take a bus out of Hereford to Wyevale Nurseries and walk back to the Bulmer's Cider Museum through the traditional cider orchards, and along the River Wye. [19]

Edward Elgar Walk, from Breinton Springs

(From the Hereford Times, March 2010, 5 miles) A guided walk around Breinton from Breinton Springs National Trust car park, following the steps of composer and painter Sir Edward Elgar. See the link: [20]

Brian Hatton Walk, from Breinton Springs.

(From the Hereford Times, February 2011, 5 miles) A guided walk from Breinton Springs National Trust car park, pointing out the views of the River Wye and Breinton painted by the artist Brian Hatton (1887–1916). See the link: [21]

Wye Valley Walk (136 miles!)

The Wye Valley Walk follows 218 km along the Wye Valley, and its route takes it through the parish of Breinton. The attached link gives details of the route through Breinton and Hereford, and includes interactive maps for the entire route, as well as details of nearby easy access walks along the route. See the link: [22]


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 149 Hereford & Leominster (Bromyard & Ledbury) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2009. ISBN 9780319229538.
  2. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Retrieved 29 October 2015.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Breinton at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 52°03′18″N 2°46′48″W / 52.055°N 2.780°W / 52.055; -2.780