B&B near Hay on Wye
Rock Cottage is known to be over 300 years old and was named long ago for the local rock upon which it stands and indeed into which it is built. The bedrock is never far from the surface and can be seen in the base of the cottage walls, both outside and in and in outcrops in the garden. In the 19th Century ‘Rock’ as it was then known, was the home of an independent cottager who made his living by hedging, ditching, making axe handles and doing any odd jobs which came his way.1 His wife was the local midwife whose proud boast that she was ‘District Nurse, attended 526 births and never lost a mother’! is chiselled into her tombstone in St. Margaret’s churchyard just up the lane from the cottage.
The cottage has undergone several transformations with various extensions and alterations in its life. Initially a ‘two up, two down’ in its earliest years it was then extended to became two cottages before again becoming one as it is today. The original windows are small and the walls thick. One very early barred window has been preserved in what is now the sitting room. In this room there is a large open hearth which now houses a woodburning stove. There is also an original bread oven. There are beams and timbers visible all over the cottage and, of course, the bedrock may be seen jutting out at the base of walls. In what is now the hall is an original Coalbrookdale kitchen range, the latest ‘mod con’ of its time.
The parish of St. Margaret’s, for parish it is rather than a village, is a scattering of farms, smallholdings and cottages in the Golden Valley, close to the Welsh border. The area has in the past been part of Wales, as many local place names and the names of some of its present day inhabitants reveal. At one time, what is now just Herefordshire, was officially titled ‘Hereford In Wales’, and Welsh was commonly spoken by the inhabitants. It was part of the Diocese of St. Davids, before being transferred to the Diocese of Hereford in 1852.1
1The Church In St. Margaret’s, Raymond Holly 2009.