A Watery Paradise - Rowland Vaughan and Hereford's 'Golden Vale'

'I speak of the Golden-Vale, the Lombardy of Herefordshire, the Garden of the Old Gallants, and Paradice of the backside of the Principallitie', wrote Rowland Vaughan. Mary Delorme introduces the exponent of an early irrigation system.

Hereford’s Golden Vale had long been the home of two important families. Vaughans fought beside the earls of Pembroke at Creçy and Poitiers; Sir John Vaughan died defending the king at Agincourt. Though there were similarly valorous Parrys, their best-known representative was Blanche, who served Elizabeth Tudor from nursery to throne, and is generally thought to have taught that monarch something of the Welsh language. She sponsored numerous young kinsmen at Court; one great-nephew, Rowland Vaughan, was a credit to her, becoming Groom of the Chamber, and a member of Parliament. Another great-nephew, also Rowland Vaughan, was an embarrassment. Despite three years' nagging by Blanche Parry, the former proved to be no courtier, and was sent off to the Irish wars, where he acquitted himself bravely until invalided home.

Home was Herefordshire; the Wye valley, and the parallel Golden Valley. Vaughans and Parrys were everywhere on both sides of the Black Mountains – Merioneth, Bredwardine Castle, Bacton, Moccas, Snodhill, Newcourt. It was a monotonous life, apart from the hunting; Rowland was about to escape to the Lowland wars when another cousin appeared; Elizabeth Vaughan had just reached marriageable age, and Rowland's thoughts instantly turned from military to matrimonial. His bride, although beautiful, wealthy and affectionate when it suited her, was as imperious as Blanche:

least shee should have held me carlesse of her good, and so ill deserve her love, I obeyed her will as many doe...

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