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Stanway to Bourton - 2

We left you at Hornsleasow Farm (SP 124322).  

Enter Robin Dale, who farms at Bourton-on-the-Hill.  He became fascinated by droving history as soon as we started talking: his father had driven beasts from Leominster to Abergavenny and he still kicks himself that Dad wasn’t asked more questions.  It was from Robin’s Land Rover that I first saw the route from Stanway.  So this page is a tribute to him, because without his local knowledge and ferreting I would be stuck to explain the mysterious bits between Hornsleasow and Bourton.

The track bends northward after Horns.  To avoid the quarries, maybe.  The important task for the drover was to find water for his beasts – I mentioned the dryness of the area in Part 1 – and there’s only one place he can find it: not Horns. – that would be for sheep; cattle would destroy the pond, and it was for locals anyway.  The place was Kinsdale (or Kilsdown) bottom (#1) at SP 147324, just north of Bourton Hill House Farm. 

Robin had sent me a pre-enclosure map of the area (#2).  At the top left, near the figure 2, it reads  “Allotment at the bridge in Kilsdown Bottom set out as a public Watering Place for cattle.”  Interesting….

Below the drovers’ route going south-east to Bourton is a famous Racing Stable and equine training centre, run by John Jo O’Neill and called Jackdaw’s Castle (#3).  I had become interested by “castles” that weren’t castles: we found the remains of one in Wales that had been an inn so I thought, “Hm, maybe an inn here too, particularly as there’s a source of water…”  I talked with the people at JC, who were helpful, but said it had only been established 25 years ago & gave no reason for the name.  So that was that…

…until Robin wrote and sent me that map.  With explanatory notes.  He said it had been a horse-training ground long ago, from the 1790’s till 1930, probably known to most as Bourton Hill House.  The modern stables, relocated slightly further east, were given the name Jackdaws Castle by a lady whom Robin knows: she knew the Kilsdown field had once been called by that name.  So the “Castle”, says Robin, was an overnight stop.  If there’s water, it would be.

And just north of the track, near figure 3, are “Jockey Stable Cottages” where the grooms & the stable lads lived.  AND across the road, where the A424 meets the 44, is Troopers Cottage – once a rough old alehouse, says Robin.  I walked up there once to see if I could take a picture, but all was locked & barred.

Then there’s the icing on the cake: The Slinget (#4,5).  It’s a thin field nearly a mile long!  It was known as The Rides, but before that it was used by drovers.  I haven’t worked out whether they’d have had to fence off their herds; probably not.  The cattle journeyed in ‘families’ and they’d all be branded (or marked with patterns cut in their fur).  Apparently, says Mike Lovatt, there’s a ‘Sling’ on the Stanway estate too.  Long thin field, often by a river, poor soil…perfect for travellers to dump manure in!  And there were many of them needing water and a rest before the went on to Moreton in Marsh.

Thanks, Robin.

Stanway to Bourton - 2 image 1
KB leads to an Inn
Stanway to Bourton - 2 image 2
Pre-Enclosure Map
Stanway to Bourton - 2 image 3
Jackdaw's Today
Stanway to Bourton - 2 image 4
Slinget (1)
Stanway to Bourton - 2 image 5
The Slinget