• Discover Hidden Britain

VISIT | Trailing the Black and White Villages of Herefordshire | Herefordshire


The half-timbered houses of the Black and White Trail
The half-timbered houses of the Black and White Trail

Shiver Me Timbers - A Herefordshire Village Tour


Take a tour of the Black and White Villages of northern Herefordshire on this 40-mile loop


It begins and ends in Leominster but you can pick it up at any point along the route - just watch out for the road signs with its distinctive compass design


A clockwise circle from the quiet town of Leominster out through the villages of Monkland – Dilwyn – Weobley – Sarnesfield – Kinnersley – Eardisley before hitting the market town of Kington and then back around through more delightful Herefordshire villages of Lyonshall – Pembridge – Eardisland – Kingsland




Overlooking the green fields of Herefordshire
Overlooking the green fields of Herefordshire

"...The winding Herefordshire country lanes with the delightful architectural stylings of the old buildings..."



Description |


The Black and White Village Trail in northern Herefordshire is a 40-mile loop of traditional English villages and towns – but by its very name is about the discovery and historic appreciation, the beauty of the black and white, timbered and half-timbered old residential and commercial properties dappled in amongst them.


The loop runs suitably signposted with its attractive compass symbols in a clockwise circle from the quiet town of Leominster out through the villages of Monkland – Dilwyn – Weobley – Sarnesfield – Kinnersley – Eardisley before hitting the market town of Kington and then back around through more delightful Herefordshire villages of Lyonshall – Pembridge – Eardisland – Kingsland.


But as with all routes and loops, directions and meanders – feel free to follow your own way and your own route.


Now whilst you may delight in the timbered and half-timbered buildings of this Herefordshire countryside, spare a thought for a man who was both carpenter and mason. A man who knew wood and stone. A man who knew how to construct and to carve. So in a period of time from the 16th into the 17th century when the movement began to turn from wood to brick construction, one man and his fellow carpenters were creating timbered and half-timbered buildings in Herefordshire. His name was John Abel. Once named as the King’s Carpenter by King Charles I.


His work is scattered across northern Herefordshire. Some known. Some guessed. Many lost. But our man Abel was definitely in attendance in the re-building of splendid Dore Abbey into a parish church on orders of the Scudamore Lord.


And then came a pivotal moment for Abel. In 1645 during the English Civil War when a Scottish army was besieging the city of Hereford with the Royalist forces and the King on the inside – John Abel became trapped inside too. And he was asked to build mills – for food production and gunpowder production – it was this it appears that led to his Royal title – Master Carpenter or King’s Carpenter. Success brought kudos. At a moment of history when the Parliamentarians were burning and destroying their food sources, their flour mills and their powder mills – John Abel gave the King both.


We shan’t dwell on religion – but Abel’s name became one of those pesky quarrelsome Catholic supporters.


Abel died in 1675 and is buried in a marvellous self-designed and self-crafted stone tomb in Sarnesfield churchyard. In one of those perfect black and white villages. He was 97 years of age. The epitaph on his tomb a message from the master craftsman himself:


This craggy stone covering is for an architector’s bed
That loftly buildings raised high, yet now lyes low his head
His line and rule, so death concludes, are locked up in store
Build they that list, or they that wist, for he can build no more
His house of clay could hold no longer
May heavens joy frame him a stronger
Vive ut vivas in vitam aeternam

The Black and White Village Trail is about quaint English villages, about a perfect blend of the old and the new, about a countryside marbled with rural mood. But sometimes it takes a person to do something different for the future to have more than it had. John Abel – master craftsman. King’s Carpenter.







Directions and Map |


Find the Black and White Trail signposted from Leominster and Kington in north-west Herefordshire and sprinkled across the villages in between.


Longitude: -2.890245

Latitude: 52.218668


what3words: ///weedy.shunted.slept