There is a widespread dream that the countryside is somehow more natural than the town and less subject to change. And yet the old prints of the Wye Valley show bare hillsides, deforested in fact by previous centuries of industrialisation. The fields on our uplands appeared with the Enclosures of two centuries ago. Village schools overflowed, but only because each local family had a dozen children or so. The Trellech Ridge has always been a cosmopolitan area, right from the Marcher times. The local accent is as much Gloucestershire as Gwent; and old inhabitants will speak of their spouses as having come ‘from Wales’ or ‘from the Forest’.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wildness and wet:
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
[from Inversmaid, by Gerard Manley Hopkins]
We are all used nowadays to seeing the hot air balloon sailing from its home above the Old Church, but there are folk memories of earlier flights. Two parishioners were tending graves in the churchyard quietly one day when they heard voices from the heavens – rather worrying, until they looked up.
They saw a most splendid balloon soaring over the church, the basket containing, they learned afterwards, the celebrated Charles Rolls with a companion!
[from: Penallt – A Village Miscellany]