The north Herefordshire village of Orleton is an ancient settlement. In Domesday Book it was given the name of ALRETUNE, the enclosure of the alders. The Ice Age left a fertile plain with water running through it, perfect for habitation, growing crops and grinding corn. Alders were planted all along its water course to absorb rainfall and minimise flooding, also later to produce clog making material which was supplied to North Country cotton and woollen towns. Apart from its ancient mill, medieval black and white and red brick houses were its trade mark. Although having far fewer houses, prior to the 1960s the population was of a similar size to today due to very large families of ten, eleven and even twelve being common.
Early in the 1960s Orleton obtained modern services of electricity, water and sewerage. Many households could not afford the £8 fee to be connected. To recoup costs, the local council insisted on building properties all along the service lines within the village creating what we see in 2016, a pleasant mix of medieval, modern bungalows and houses. The building of a modern village hall on the present site, replacing a tin roofed parish room on the side of the main road, coincided with a housing explosion, so providing necessary social amenities. This was again replaced by the present hall in 1997 supplementing Orleton’s surgery, village post office and store, bus services and excellent public houses.
In the 1980s the village hall necessitated additional parking and recreational facilities. Eleven and a half acres of land was acquired alongside, which provided a first class site for sports, fetes and to establish a wooded area, planted in 1989. The Victorian school was replaced with a modern building in the 1960s to provide education for the villages of Little Hereford, Brimfield and Orleton.
Orleton Wesleyan Chapel of 1890 and St George’s medieval church continue as active, integral components providing spiritual support. St George’s is one thousand years old and richly deserves its visitors from all over the world. Dedicated to St George, the dragon weather vane proudly indicates wind direction and the lovely guilded clock of 1887 gives accurate time. The church interior contains invaluable artefacts. Its Norman font has christened children for nearly a thousand years and has nine of the twelve apostles around its exterior. Its windows include examples of Norman, Early English and Decorated periods. There are dedications to Sir Arthur Keysell Yapp, founder of the YMCA, the Blounts and Proctors. There is an excellent Jacobean pulpit and two very ancient oak chests, one adzed out from a solid oak trunk aged a thousand years and a nine-hundred-year-old churchwarden’s chest. In the graveyard is an ancient preaching cross with a much older base; also graves of the Salweys and Proctors of Proctor and Gamble fame.