Herefordians in history have influenced more than their home landscape: they’ve helped shape national and international affairs.
People make places so it is relevant to mention one or two historical figures and those that today have strong ties to Herefordshire.
Most counties celebrate their famous sons and daughter but Herefordshire plays it low-key. Scratch the surface, though, and all sorts of interesting characters come from Herefordshire!
Saints, martyrs and social reformers to explorers, a poet laureate and wartime heroes, Herefordshire characters have been active in many spheres. Some were confidantes to royalty while others were larger-than-life personalities who became Inspiration for writers.
While many notable Herefordians came from comfortable circumstances, others hail from humbler origins. Famous boxer Tom Spring was a Fownhope butcher. Herefordshire’s own Metaphysical poet, Thomas Traherne, was the son of a Hereford shoemaker.
Herefordshire also boasts a couple of early feminists. Jane Merricke of Upton Bishop, also of humble birth, fought at the 1645 Civil War siege of Hereford. A hundred years before the Suffragettes, Matilda Betham of Stoke Lacy, portraitist, poet and author, called for greater parliamentary involvement for women.
Born in Widemarsh Street, Hereford on 19 February 1717 and buried (died 1779) in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, London.
He was an English actor, playwright and theatrical manager who influenced all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th Century. He was a friend of Dr Samuel Johnson. He purchased a share in the Drury Lane Theatre and under his stewardship, it became one of the most famous theatres in Europe. For more information, go to the Shakespeare Birthday Trust website.
Brian Hatton was one of a generation of talented artists, killed during WW1.
Born in 1887 at Whitecross, Hereford, Brian showed an extraordinary skill for drawing from a young age. Awarded his first medal aged eight, he received a gold medal from the Royal Drawing Society when he was just eleven years of age.
His professional career started as a portrait painter from a London studio. During his career, his work included oil paintings, water colours and pencil and pastel drawings. He liked to paint landscapes and animals and also agricultural scenes with country people.
Just 29 when he died in action in Egypt 1916, Brian had created a portfolio of over a thousand drawings, studies and paintings. To see much of his work, go to the Brian Hatton website.
Famous residents today
Monty Don is one of the great gardening authorities who presents programmes for the BBC. His Herefordshire home is featured regularly on Gardeners’ World.
Known to his fans as ‘The Hamster’, Richard Hammond is a resident when he is not globe trotting on Amazon’s Grand Tour.
Liz Hurley has also sought the peace and tranquillity that Herefordshire brings to her family home.
John Lewis-Stempel is a columnist and writer who has brought the Herefordshire countryside to life. His family have lived in the county for over 700 years and his observations of country life and animals are a joy to read.