by Peter Badham

Elsewhere in this Journal we have given tribute to the life of Molly Badham, the late Director of Twycross Zoo, and this article is to describe the story of her great grandparents' grave memorials, put Molly's family into genealogical context and present a little background history of Ashperton's Castle, which is a stone's throw from the churchyard. For those of you unfamiliar with this rural area of Herefordshire, a reminder that we are in the valley of the river Frome, so often visited in this Journal.1 The village of Tarrington, of Station Master George Badham fame, would take a lazy crow a few minutes to fly   ̶  Stoke Edith and Perton are but a mile further west.

I need to acknowledge straight away the help given to me by Don Badham, Molly's brother, both with information and with photographs. In many ways it was one of the latter that triggered off part of this story. Don presented me with a pair of photographs showing a headstone and on the back of it a cast iron memorial. I got it into my head that I should find this in the churchyard of Long Marsden or Marston Sicca, as it was once known. As we were travelling home roughly near this part of northern Gloucestershire we decided to see if we could find the relevant stones. We arrived rather late and, as dusk was falling fast, did a lot of  tripping over trying to read stones by the light of a small torch – one of those magnetic ones you wind up and which sound like a banshee. I'm not sure how we avoided being arrested on suspicion of grave robbing but eventually we gave in. Some weeks later, as Ashperton was one of the family's homes, and as we normally pass through regularly at speed and perhaps on occasion, mildly illegally, a diversion to the churchyard was organised for a more decorous visit. It didn't take many minutes to find that the memorials in Don's photos were here! It was also a bit of a shock as we found the cast iron memorial loose and leaning against the hedge. The cross has cast in to it, “In loving memory of Charles Badham who died October 13th 1878 aged 61 years ‘he is not dead but sleepeth’.”

The cast iron cross in the hedge


The leaning memorial stone to Charles and Mary showing that Charles had to wait 26 years for Mary


Elizabeth Badham née Batchelor b. 1851


Arthur James Badham b. 1889, son of James and Elizabeth and father of Don and Molly


George Badham b. 1876 brother of Arthur with his mother Elizabeth née Batchelor


Not far away we found the gravestone from Don's photograph, which we also noted was leaning rather a lot. This memorial records the deaths of Charles and Mary Badham, the great grandparents of Don and Molly, as can be seen from the family tree. Charles, we note, died on the 13th October 1878 and is the same Charles recorded on the iron cross, thus producing two memorials in the same churchyard, and for the same person in different materials. The two deaths were many years apart almost to the day, and here we begin to understand that the purpose of the iron memorial was to mark the grave until Mary. This presence of two types of memorial for the same person has to be rare and one which your Committee was anxious to preserve for Badham and, indeed, other family historians interested in memorials. As a result it was agreed to arrange for the reinstatement of the stone in an upright position and the restoration of the cast iron cross in the position at the back, as photographed by Don some years before. I contacted the vicar who saw no problem in this being done and the cast iron cross was placed in safe keeping whilst we made the necessary arrangements. The Society's constitution includes the preservation of relevant artefacts as one of our aims and this allows us, with a generous contribution from the family to carry out this work, which is being set up as I write, though the winter weather is making its own contribution to the problem! Don and Molly's father Arthur James was, as Richard Batchelor notes, the last comer in the family of nine children and was born at Hay on Wye. The five siblings born before him died as infants with only one of them surviving to a year, so that in reaching 76 he was more in keeping with his next surviving older sister, Mary Sophia, who reached 97. Family photographs of Arthur and of his mother Elizabeth née Batchelor are shown and that of Richard elsewhere in this issue of the Journal. Elizabeth is also shown with Arthur's brother George.

Ashperton Church from the SE

When talking to the vicar she commented that there were still Badhams in Ashperton and this was no surprise to me. Indeed, there have been Badhams there at least since Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Badham was baptised there on 20th February 1545. One of our unsolved mysteries is why Badhams are so rooted in this Frome valley of Herefordshire when they are of Welsh origin and almost certainly come from nearer to or into Gwent. One possible answer lies only a stone's throw from the Ashperton churchyard, from which a very short walk will take you to the remains of the moat of Ashperton Castle.

A section of the remains of the moat at Ashperton - there is ice on the near surface!

This was a defensive position when the boundary with the Welsh was less than six miles away across the Wye in what is now S.W. Herefordshire but was then the Welsh cantref of Ergynig. For our purposes the interesting thing is that northern Gwent, which has a strong early ap Adam presence, is the centre of the Welsh part of the Duchy of Lancaster. Ashperton was given to the Duchy as early as 1262, so this is one possible “route” of influence which could have brought an early ap Adam migration into this beautiful Herefordshire valley. On this same theme, however, we have looked at the importance of the Knoville family in the climb to the possessions of Baron John (Delvings, for example p.81). The manor of Lugwardine further west down the valley was passed on to three heiresses of this family in about 1317 from a cousin John Walerand. So this is another possibility to be considered.




  1. See "The impossible we perform daily", BINS Journal No 1, September 2005 and "Stoke Edith surprises", BINS Journal No 6, March 2008 which has a map.