Hereford City Heritage

The Mayor’s Chain

Grey Friars

The site of Greyfriars, Hereford, lay outside the city walls. The land was occupied by a Franciscan Friary, founded by Sir William Pembrugge, from about 1228 to 1538. After the Dissolution it appears that the Friary church was demolished and the land and associated buildings leased out. By 1757 Taylor’s map shows the area as the ‘Scite of Black Fryers’ and marks the site of a tannery to the north west of the site.

Later development of the site and its immediate environs included the construction of a mill and associated buildings. Subsequently the mill was converted for use as a dwelling. The present building is in the same style as the neighbouring villas. A more recent extension was added when the building became a restaurant and the grounds were landscaped to form a garden.

Archaeological Excavations Ltd was commissioned by Eign Enterprises Ltd, of Bridge Street, Hereford to carry out an archaeological evaluation on the site of the former Campions Restaurant, Greyfriars Avenue, Hereford in advance of possible development of the area. The work included documentary research, a resistivity survey and trial trenching. The fieldwork was carried out between 17 December 1998 and 23 January 1999.


The Franciscan Friary, founded by Sir William Pembrugge about 1228, was on a site to the north of the above investigation. It flourisdhed and a number of important persons were buried there, including Owen Tudor, beheaded in Hereford after the battle of Mmortimer’s Cross in q1461, and Sir Richard Pembridge, who died in 1375.

The friary was dissolved in 1538 and it is likely that the friary church was demolished soon after this. The tomb of Sir Richard Pembridge was moved to the nave of Hereford Cathedral after the dissolution. In 1540 the remaining premises were leased out, together with associated land, and then in 1545 the premises were granted to Mr James Boyle in whose family it continued until early in the 17th century, when their property in Hereford was alienated. At this period we have the first pictorial evidence of the site. Speede’s map of 1610 shows a building, surrounded by a walled precinct (incorrectly labelled ‘Whit Friers’) but with nothing marked between the precinct and the river.


To the east of the precinct was the town ditch, fed from the Yazor brook which has its source to the north-west of Hereford. This brook was crossed by the road that led west from Eign Gate, known as ‘Above Eign’, but then turned north and east, running down the middle of the road to a point just outside Eign Gate. Here the flow was divided into two, the main flow being to the east, following the outside line of the city walls, eventually reaching the river to the east of the castle. The other branch turned south from Eign Gate, past Friars’ Gate, to the river.

It is likely that much damage was caused to the buildings of the Friary during the Civil Wars in the middle of the 17th century. Buildings close to the walls were cleared in case they gave protection to attacking forces, and it is possible that part of the friary was so treated.

In 1670 the property came, by marriage, into the Bucknell family. By 1712, when it was sold, the buildings on the site had disappeared. When Taylor’s map was published in 1757, the approximate position was marked as ‘ The Scite of Black Fryers’ and shows a short stretch of wall towards the river bank. It is possible that originally the wall turned east and joined up with the Wye bridge to complete the defences.