Welsh: Llangystennin Garth Brenni
and South Herefordshire
Welsh Bicknor is a parish that forms a detached part of Monmouthshire, locally situate in Herefordshire. It lies to the north of the River Wye, which here forms the border with Gloucestershire. On the opposite bank lies English Bicknor in that county. When considered as a part of Monmouthshire, it forms the easternmost part of the county, lying, as it does, east of Lady Park Wood.
Courtfield, the manor house of Welsh Bicknor was originally known as Greyfield or Greenfield, the name altered after King Henry V had lived there as a young child of eight, following the death of his mother Mary de Bohun, under the care of Lady Margaret Montacute, wife of Sir John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury long before his father, King Henry IV was to usurp the throne of King Richard II. An effigy of Lady Margaret Montacute can be seen in Welsh Bicknor church and her plain tomb is beside the altar in Goodrich church.
The manor house and surrounding land of Welsh Bicknor belonged to the Vaughan family. However, in 1651 Richard Vaughan, who was a Catholic, had his land sequestered and given to Phillip Nicholas of Llansoy, in Monmouthshire. This is how the rather unusual situation of the exclave occurred.
Religious dissension within the Vaughan families continued for several generations. In 1715, a John Vaughan (presumably one of Richard's descendants) refused the oath of allegiance to George I. He had estates in the several counties of Monmouth, Radnor, Hereford, and Gloucester valued at £1,000 per annum. In 1719 he was fined for not attending church.
A later generation, in the person of Richard Vaughan, joined Prince Charles Edward Stuart's army in 1745. Vaughan took part in the Battle of Culloden and followed the Prince into exile. He and his brother William Vaughan were outlawed and their property seized, while they themselves fled to Spain and became officers in the army of that country. Both married Spanish Ladies and some of their descendants settled in the home of their adoption and became grandees of Spain.
Richard Vaughan died in Barcelona in 1795 but his son William eventually returned to Wales and obtained a restoration of the main portion of his estates, as heir to his uncle. Later, John Vaughan of Courtfield, elder brother of William took the oath of allegiance to King George III at Monmouth in 1778. Louisa Eliza Rolls, who married John Vaughan of Courtfield in 1830, prayed that her children might have vocations to priesthood or the religious life, and six of her sons became priests (including the later Cardinal Vaughan) and four of her daughters became nuns.
Welsh Bicknor parish records are now held by Hereford Records Office.
- Welsh placenames in Herefordshire
- A Mill Hill Father, Remembered in Blessing: The Courtfield Story Sands and Co., London 1955, 1969.
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