Stretton Sugwas Church of

England Academy HR4 7AE

Tel:  01432 760282

Harvest time in bygone days

Stretton Sugwas is a small village with an electoral roll of around 350 adults, which lies off the A438, some three miles west of Hereford.  It originally started life as two hamlets, one centring around Sugwas Farm and its workers, and the other around Stretton Court.  Sugwas (OE sucga, ‘bird’ and waessa, ‘swamp) lay down against the Wye and until 1884 was in the parish of Eaton Bishop, being connected to it by an ancient ford.  The manor belonged to the Bishop of Hereford before 1066 and even then there may have been a palace where the bishops hunted wildfowl.  A park is first recorded in the late 13th century, when poachers are said to have carried away 20 deer and cut down timber.  In October 1289 Bishop Swinfield and his entourage are recorded as having consumed “three quarters of a beef, three sheep, half a pig, eight geese, ten fowls, twelve pigeons, nine partridges and one and a half larks”!
In the mid-14th century the number of bishops’ palaces was reduced, but Sugwas was maintained and the last bishop to reside there was Dr. Gilbert Ironsides (1691-1701).  The original building was demolished in 1792, its stained glass windows eventually being installed in Ross Church, and was replaced by the late Georgian house which exists today.
The first road on the left past the War Memorial, leading from the A438 to Breinton (known locally as Sugwas Lane) was in earlier times called Mill Lane.  It was originally a gated road, the first gate being at the Top Lodge by the main road (built for his gardener by Judge Ingham, who with his family lived at Sugwas Court in the late 1800s.  One of his sons, Robert, was killed in the First World War and his name appears on the War Memorial, as does that of Percy Hawkins, from Sugwas Farm). 
The second gate was just beyond the Boat House by the river, which used to be an Inn.  Towards the end of this road was a mill, the flour from which was carried by barge along a dyke to Sugwas House.  Casks of cider were also transported down to the river and on to the sailing ships at Bristol and elsewhere.  Apparently the sailors were given cider as a source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy, although other health-endangering effects may not have been prevented!
Heading back towards Hereford by the War Memorial on the left is what used to be the old Toll House or Turn Pike.  One of the previous inhabitants of Sugwas Farm is renowned for having ridden across the fields to get to Hereford to avoid paying the toll charge.  Times were hard!

Until recent years, Stretton Sugwas was able to boast two pubs and a post office, but with changing times these have now gone.  More changes are likely to occur quite quickly over the next few years, with several new planning applications continuing to be granted.

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Pony and Cart circa 1900

This picture was taken around 1900 and shows a pony being unhitched from the cart prior to crossing by ferry

Harvest time in bygone days.  Six workers having a break for lunch
St. Mary Magdalene Church, Stretton Sugwas, as seen from opposite the entrance gate
Stretton Sugwas Academy as seen from the front
Landscape showing blue sky and field of rape with two trees in the foreground
Stretton Sugwas Village Hall from the main gate
Herefordshire cow with suckling calf