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Holme Lacy – the House, Church and Railway  


Picture Credit: “Holme Lacy Hotel entrance” by andrewknots is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Holme Lacy House

Holme Lacy is a grade I listed mansion, completed in 1674 and was reportedly visited by Charles II, and William Pitt (the 1st Earl of Chatham), who held cabinet meetings in the gardens. The mansion is set in 20 acres of gardens in the Wye Valley, and is regarded as one of Herefordshire’s treasures. Holme Lacy is a small village in Herefordshire, with a parish population of 466 at the 2011 Census[1].

Holme Lacy[2] is not from Old Norse holmr (“island”) despite other places of the name Holme, but from the fairly similar Old English hamm – meaning “land in a river-bend”. The name was recorded as Hamme in the Domesday Book in 1086[3] – when the land was owned by the Bishop of Hereford and rented by Roger de Lacy. Over the subsequent centuries, the de Lacy’s and the Bishops of Hereford argued over the manor, but the de Lacy’s were eventually replaced by the Scudamore family, who came here in 1419. The name of the house has varied through history; it has also been known as Homme Lacy (1396[4]), Hamlayce (1648), Humlachie (1701) and Hom Lacy (1836).

The town was an estate of the Bishop of Hereford and held by Roger de Lacy, from which the “Lacy” affix comes.

De Lacy was a Lord of the manor, indicating that a feudal system existed during the Middle Ages. William I of England had returned Hamme to Bishop Walter, and in 1086 the total population included:

  • 16 villeins (serfs tied to the land in the feudal system),
  • four bordars (villeins of the lowest rank who held a cottage at their lord’s pleasure, for which they rendered menial service),
  • one reeve (a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown),
  • one male and two female slaves,
  • priest, and
  • one Frenchman,

who between them had 20½ ploughs.

The existence of a priest affirms there was a church at Holme Lacy. There were also two ploughs under the lordship’s tenure at the time.

Holme Lacy village is not far from Hereford, and the manor house is the largest stately property in the county of Herefordshire.  Walter De Lacy and his second son Roger were born in Normandy and fought alongside William I during the Norman Conquest in 1066. The family were granted land in Herefordshire as a mark of their support for King William, and on it, they built a house[5] which, through extensions and modifications, is the splendid manor we see today – Holme Lacy. A descendant of the original de Lacy’s, Clarice married Thomas Scudamore (a great Herefordshire family). A descendant of this marriage, John Scudamore, built a large brick house in the shape of the letter “H”, with fine gables and stone pillions, and successive generations enlarged and improved the building until 1674, when it was much as it is today (see picture on page 1), although renovations were carried out in the 19th century.  The mansion became renowned for its beautiful gardens and the five miles of salmon fishing along the River Wye. King Charles the 1st and his retinue honoured the house with a royal visit in 1645, to which all of the grand country houses aspired at the time.[6]

Holme Lacy House and its Estate: Ownership

For some centuries, Holme Lacy was owned by the ancient family of Scudamore: Philip Scudamore settled here in the 14th century[7], and his descendant John Scudamore (created a baronet in 1620), and in 1628 Baron Dromore and Viscount Scudamore of Sligo. The Viscount’s successor, the second viscount, commissioned Anthony Deane in 1674 to build a new country mansion on the estate. The designer was Hugh May[8].

Holme Lacy House continued to be the principal seat of the Scudamore family until the year 1716, when on the death of James (the 3rd and last Viscount Scudamore), the estate was vested in Frances Scudamore (born 1711- died), his only daughter and heiress. In 1729, Frances married Henry Somerset 3rd Duke of Beaufort, who in 1730 assumed the name and arms of Scudamore. Frances was divorced in 1744 with no children from the marriage.

Frances then married her second husband, Charles Fitzroy. He also assumed the name and arms of Scudamore, and the marriage produced a daughter and heiress, Frances (1750-1820), who married Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk. The Duke and Duchess died without surviving children, and after extensive litigation, the Holme Lacy estate devolved in 1819 upon Captain Sir Edwyn Francis Stanhope, Bart., R. N., who assumed the additional name and arms of Scudamore and whose son succeeded in 1883 as the 9th Earl of Chesterfield.[9]

The mansion of Holme Lacy, built by the 2nd Viscount Scudamore, remained, renovated in 1828-31 and again in the early 20th century, the family seat of the Earls of Chesterfield until 1902, when the contents and artefacts were sold. In 1909 the house was sold to Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth, an Australian brewing millionaire. He sold it in 1924 to Noel Wills (of the Wills tobacco company), on whose death in 1929 his widow donated it to Herefordshire County Council. For some years, it was used as a training college and psychiatric hospital. Several owners later, it was leased to the Warner Leisure Hotels Group[10]&[11], who run it as Holme Lacy Hotel.

Holme Lacy House and outbuildings stand in the northeast corner of a large park in the middle of the parish. There are formal gardens to the south and west of the house, which are noteworthy for the fine old yew hedges which border the walks. The house has two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are sandstone ashlar with Bathstone dressings; the rooves are covered with slates.[12]  Holme Lacy Parish notes[13] that:

‘Holme Lacy House was among the first properties in Herefordshire to have electricity, which was generated by two large turbines with the power stored in a series of large batteries at nearby Pound Farm. As well as electric power Sir Robert brought piped water and a sewage system to the house. Sadly Sir Robert died and left the estate to his two sons, both of whom were killed in action around the time of World War I, leaving no one to inherit the estate. His sons are remembered by a fine stained glass window and lectern in Holme Lacy Church.’

Record Pear Tree
Perry pear trees can live to a great age and be fully productive for as long as 250 years. They also grow to a considerable height and can have very large canopies; the largest recorded internationally at the time, a tree at Holme Lacy (which still partly survives), covered three-quarters of an acre and incredibly yielded a crop of five to seven tons of fruit in 1790.[14]

St Cuthbert’s Church, Holme Lacy[15]

The church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, lies about a mile south of the present-day village and dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It is built in sandstone with tiled rooves and lies adjacent to the river, in an isolated position at the end of a lane in a bend of the River Wye

Its plan consists of a six-bay nave with a two-bay chancel and a north chapel. Now redundant, it was in its time an Anglican church and stands about 1 mile to the southeast of the village of Holme Lacy. It is designated in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade I listed building[16] and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[17]

The fabric of the church originates from the 13th century. The tower was added in the 14th century, and a north chapel and south porch in the 16th century.[18] In 1833 a gallery was built and an organ installed, but by 1924 the gallery had been removed and the old organ replaced by a new one. In 1924, extensive repairs to the roof, arcade and floors were also carried out, costing about £1,000 at the time (equivalent to £61,000 in 2021)[19].  Most of the memorials in the church are to the Scudamore family, who were patrons of the church from Medieval times until the 20th century. The church also has monuments to the Lucas-Tooth family, who bought the estate in 1909. John Scudamore, who died in 1571, lies beside his wife on a tomb chest, decked out in full armour. James Scudamore, who died in 1668, wears a Roman costume in a great wedding cake of a wall monument – possibly by Grinling Gibbons.[20]


(Above) Holme Lacy Railway Station Just the platform remains on what must have been a spectacularly picturesque line by the River Wye.
Attribution: Bob Embleton / Holme Lacy Railway Station
Page URL:
This file is licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.
(Right) Chart showing Stations, Junctions, Tunnels etc. (Wikipedia)

Holme Lacy was located on the Hereford to Ross-on-Wye section of the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway. One of the original two stations between Hereford and Ross, along with Fawley, the railway was opened on 1st  June 1855 as a 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge line.

It was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway in 1862. In 1869, the railway was converted to a 4 ft 8+12 inches (1,435 mm) standard gauge.[21]

The railway finally fell victim to the Beeching cuts, which aimed to improve the efficiency of the railway system by closing many of Britain’s smaller stations and branch lines. Holme Lacy was finally closed to passengers on 2nd November 1964. Whilst the platform remains, albeit overgrown, the station building has been demolished to the foundation level.

Sources and Further Reading

[1] Source:

[2] Source: ibid

[3] Source:  Britain Express. “Holme Lacy, St Cuthberts Church, Herefordshire Travel Guide”. 

[4] Source:  “Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP40/541; 1396”.

[5] Source:

[6] Source:

[7] Source:  “Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP40/541; 1396”.

[8] Source:

[9] Source: Kelly’s Directory of Herefordshire 1890 – edited

[10] Source:  “Holme Lacy House History”. Herefordshire Past.

[11] Source: “Warner Leisure Hotels”.

[12] Source:

[13] At:

[14] Source:  Oliver, T. The Three Counties & Welsh Marches Perry Presidium Protocol PDF

[15] Main sources:,_Holme_Lacy and

[16] Source: Historic England“Church of St Cuthbert, Holme Lacy (1099563)”National Heritage List for England

[17] Source: St Cuthbert’s Church, Holme Lacy, HerefordshireChurches Conservation Trust

[18] Source: Holme Lacy St Cuthberts Church, Britain Express

[19] NOTES: (1) UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017), “The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)”, MeasuringWorth, Holme Lacy, Herefordshire, and (2) Kelly’s Directory of Herefordshire, 1941, GENUKI,

[20] Source:

[21] Source:  “Herefordshire Through Time – Welcome”.

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