Wellington Heath Neighbourhood Development plan: Village History
Wellington Heath, or Walyntone as it was then known, is mentioned in the 13 century in records of landholdings of the Bishop of Ledbury. It was part of the manor of Ledbury and the common provided grazing for the people of Ledbury – rights to which were jealously guarded. There would have been a few farmsteads leased from the Bishop of Hereford. After the reformation in the 16th century ownership of land in Ledbury passed to local gentry.
Up until the 20th century development was been gradual. In 1693 there were approximately 30 holders of land in the Wellington division of Ledbury – which included Peggs farm in the north and Hilltop in the south. During the 18th century a number of pieces of land were taken by squatters. By custom, provided a house could be marked out, a hearth built, a fire lit and a pot put to boil before the commoners discovered and evicted the squatters, they could remain. Before 1790, 16 cottages were built in this way and between 1790 and 1813 a further 23.
Wellington Heath probably took on more of a village feel in the mid 19 century. The parish of Wellington Heath was carved out of Ledbury in 1842, and the church was built . Benevolent landowners at Hope End house (which owned farmland in the village) and other local farmers endowed the church as well as building an infant school on the east side of the Common in 1853, and the Church of England school close to the church in 1874. However, the Womens Institute history researched and written in 1955, still described the village as retaining “the characteristics of scattered hamlets and farms and has not acquired, in any large measure, the corporate community life as it is found in older and more compact villages.” The Farmers Arms was established after the closure of The Swallow cider house which had had a reputation for drunkenness and fighting. The Memorial Village Hall was established after the first world war.
Many older buildings, which were either timber framed or built of the local crumbly sandstone, have disappeared. This is particularly the case with the often poorly constructed squatters’ cottages. The village appraisal 2000 showed that 53 houses were 45 years old or more. In the 1950s water and electricity supplies were laid on, followed by mains drainage in the mid 1970s. This led to considerable development and 45 of the present houses in the village were built at that time. Since then there have been a number of small scale developments, typically single houses on “infill” sites or clusters of two of three houses along existing roads.
Much of the village is in the Malvern Hills AONB and the landscape character map in the Design guidelines for the AONB characterises it as “Forest smallholdings and dwellings”. Although there has been much development since the Women’s Institute history, the village still retains its scattered character and leafy lanes.