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Lyonshall Old Fishpool Team 'LOFT'; Home

Lyonshall Old Fish-pool Team (LOFT) Project

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How the project came about.

Julia Evans, a ‘newcomer’ to Lyonshall from Breconshire (Powys), met many people walking their dogs around the pool and then fell in love with its beauty.  Sadly it was being filled up with cut-offs and fallen trees and it was obvious that it was silting up and deserved saving.  She approached the Parish Council hoping that they might be able to help.

The Parish Council approached the landowner, Mr Andrew Burton, who agreed readily to the pool being restored and preserved as long as his commercial interests were respected.  His wife, Jo Burton , agreed to join the team.  Thus was born LOFT.

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What is LOFT?

L.O.F.T.  is the Lyonshall Old Fish-pool Team and is made up of local volunteers, many of them “dog-walkers”, who love the pool, its peaceful setting and its environs.  They enjoy giving their support and muscle to improving the fish-pool as an asset for wildlife and the village community.  Some are supporters who provide the hot tea and encouragement for the workforce, others are the ‘brawn’!  In the past 5 months 27 local people from the parish have joined the “Team” and Julia Evans acts as the voluntary ‘Coordinator’.


How to contact LOFT.
LOFT can be contacted by telephone on 01544 340218 or 340291.  By email you can get in touch on jquintonadams@btinternet.com or you can write to ‘The Old Station’, Lyonshall, Herefordshire HR5 3LL.  You can always call at The Old Station in person of course as it is only 150 yards from the Fish-pool. Or, finally, click on the email link at the bottom of this page to send an email to Julia.

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Regular sessions.

The ‘team’ meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays between Scarlet Elf Cup (or Cap)11am and 1pm.  Julia Evans acts as coordinator.  If HART members join us we repair to ‘The Royal George’ for a much deserved convivial lunch.  It is best to let Julia know if you are planning to join in as she can let you know who else will be there.  There is no reason why individual Members should not work on the pool at other times as long as they take sensible precautions.  “Does anyone else know you are there?”.

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Where is the Fish-pool?

The pool is shown on the OS Map sheet No. 148, grid reference 335560.  Landholding number HE40398.  It can be approached from the A480 along the public footpath which starts at “The Old Station” or from the A44 (HR5 3HS) on the footpath which starts opposite The Bungalow by the junction of the Titley road. The actual pool is not on a public right-of-way, but the owner is happy for you to cross the 100yds or so of his property as long as you respect his rights and your dogs do not foul the land anywhere near his cider-apple trees. Any trace of fouling will ruin his whole crop which is harvested off the ground each autumn. The pool is very close to the centre of Lyonshall village. 


Why is the Fish-pool important?

The pool is well over 600 years old and it is a haven for a wide variety of plants and wildlife.  Since starting in January 2011 we have recorded over 71 pond & marginal plants, 25 trees and shrubs, 23 birds, 16 insects, 11 amphibians and water creatures, 7 fungi (Poisonous and edible) and 5 mammals. 

Mallard ducks are swimming in the pool, with their ducklings in tow, and the moorhens have nested.  We are awaiting the Summer with interest as that will bring dragonflies and many other birds, bugs and flowers.  Of special interest will be the amphibians (the pool was full of frogspawn in March) and the small native fish. 

We think we have found “Ratty the Water Vole’s” home hole but we are leaving them in peace as they are rare and threatened.  In the past Otters and Swans have used the pool.  Can we achieve that again?

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Progress so far.

Since December 2010 LOFT Members have opened up access to the pool, cleared the path around the perimeter, begun to pull the fallen trees out of the water and cleared the land-drains and sluices that feed and empty the pond.  It is a labour of love and the progress has been phenomenal.  On a good morning over 6 volunteers meet and beaver away for the “hell of it”!  The Members of the Herefordshire Amphibians and Reptile Team [H.A.R.T.] have been invaluable with their advice, research and muscle power.  We have joint working days when they come and give us the benefit of their experience and – more importantly – their practical assistance.  LOFT members use HART’s Insurance scheme to cover themselves for injury. 

Plans for the immediate future.
All ‘heavy’ work will stop between March and September so that the nesting and breeding season is not disrupted.  However, the clearance of weeds, unwanted saplings, brambles etc will continue throughout the summer.  As will the survey of ‘flora and fauna’.  We need as much information as possible.  If you see something of interest please tell us!
Currently LOFT is recruiting ‘sponsors’ for bird-boxes and bat-boxesBird Boxes Available These are made locally by Mr David Games of ‘Curl View’, Lyonshall, and for £20 you can sponsor the box (choice of bird-type is yours) which LOFT will install, send you a map of its location, monitor the box, keep it in good condition and let you know if it is occupied and how the residents are getting on.  Each box is numbered and credited to the sponsor so as to encourage local participation.  The “first” bird-box [No. 1.] was sponsored by ‘The Royal George Inn’, Lyonshall, and it is designed for “Tits”.  The Pub is a great supporter of LOFT and it is our preferred venue for meetings.  Most meetings are purely social.

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The “Wish list”.
 
If we had outside funding we would love to achieve the following:
1. ‘Disabled Access’ to the pool and its environs.
2. Safe ‘bridges’ over the ditches for dog walkers.
3. We need to drag the HEAVY fallen trees out of the centre of the pool.
4. It would be great if we could dredge the pool back to its original ‘stone base’.
5. It would be nice to put a ‘post and rail’ fence around the area to delineate the “wildlife conservation area”.  There would be full access and no gates.

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Historical Importance.

The Fish-pool can be traced back definitively to King Richard II in 1388 and to 1545 when it is shown as being in possession of Richard Vaughan Esq of Hergest who was a noted Tudor adherent.  It was probably part of the Church holdings of the Priory of Leominster who had owned the Church and the adjoining lands since 1290.  King Henry VIII took possession of the church lands at The Reformation in 1539.

 Fish-pools were a vital part of church life as no meat was eaten on Fridays or during the 40 days of Lent.  Queen Elizabeth I sold off the land in 1564.  There is every indication that the Lyonshall Fish-pool is of great medieval importance and the first evidence of Church holdings in Lyonshall is in 1046 when the Saxon King Edward “The Confessor” closed down the local Convent due to a shortage of monks.

A ‘Bronze Age’ dagger [with a 9 inch fluted blade] was found by the pool in 1931 by a local farmer.  The dagger is now in Hereford Museum and could be up to 3,000 years old.  Click on the image to the right to see an enlarged picture of the Bronze Age Dagger, alongside a 15 cm ruler (6") to show scale.

King Offa, the Saxon King of Mercia, built a spur to his famous ‘dyke’ between 778 and 796 AD due to Offa's Dyke Cross-sectionthe rebellious nature of the locals which caused him to fight three battles in the immediate area.  The dyke spur, an excellent example of the original ditch, is 800 yards to the West of the pool as ‘the crow flies’.  The pool, which seems to be fed by an underground source as well as the natural drain-off, would have been the nearest water supply for the ‘diggers’ at that time.

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Historical References.
The sources are as follows:
a. 1545.  The “Vaughan Family” Archives.
b. 1536.  The De Clifford ecclesiastical holding of “The Vicarage at Leonhales” is shown in “The Valor Ecclesiasticus” of Hing Henry VIII (Vol 3, page 31). An 1807 copy in Latin is held by The Hereford Archives.  It is shown also in the de Clifford family archive.
c. 1539.  The “Rectory holdings” of The Priory at Leominster are shown in the “Valor Ecclesiasticus” (Vol 3, page 29).
d. 1290-1481. For all land grants made to The Church and exemptions from Royal Taxation see The National Archives.
e. 1086.  See the “Domesday Book” for reference to “Lenehalle”.
f. 1046.  For reference to Harald Godwynson see “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles”.
g. 778-796. For Reference to King Offa’s campaigns in the Herefordshire see the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicles”.
h. Bronze Age. The “dagger” is held at Hereford Museum [Access No. 4354].
h. 1388 and King Richard II - National Archives 

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The Fish.

The original pool would have been stocked with “coarse fish” such as Carp, Dace, SticklebacksTench, Eels etc.  “Game Fish”, such as trout, were available from the River Arrow.  Eels and Otters accessed the pool via the Curl Brook.  We have no plans to restock the pool as it needs dredging first.  There is a thriving ‘Stickleback’ population which proves that the water is not stagnant.

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Caveat.

Most members of LOFT are covered by the HART Insurance scheme which gives ‘Liability Insurance’ for £5 per household per year.  The Fish-pool looks shallow and safe but visitors should be aware that it is very DEEP and very MUDDY in the centre!  Neither LOFT, the Landowner nor the Lyonshall Parish Council can take any responsibility for unauthorised persons injuring themselves at the “Upper Fish-pool”, Lyonshall.

PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!

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