The name of the village means Evens copse or wood. When the parish was
formed in 1870, it was called Evancoyd, which means the same thing but in Welsh.
The village as a whole is referred to by either name, but the true Evancoyd
is centred on Evancoyd Court, a large house standing to the north of the
There is another version of the meaning: it is claimed that in 1267 it was called Emynghop, meaning "Emma's Valley", but I have not seen any evidence for this.
And in 2001, Powys County Council erected new signs, without consulting the villagers, giving an apparently made up name of Einsiob to the village. I have been unable to find any justification for this other than the present insistence for having a "welsh" name added to the signs!
You can see a list of local shops and services here and a map here
The little village by the unusual name of Evenjobb can be found about 5 miles west-south-west of Presteigne and 6 miles north-west of Kington. It lies in the border country of Powys and Hereford, in what is locally known as the Radnor Valley, but also known geologically as the Walton Basin, with hills immediately adjacent to the north and northeast for the most part covered with trees and reminiscent of the Black Forest. On the eastern side the famous Offas Dyke runs through the parish, whilst to the south, the more modern A44 from Oxford to Aberystwyth carries traffic which in Offas day would have been unthinkable. To the west is Radnor Forest, an upland filled with afforestation, while to the north, sheep-munched fields cover the hills.
Evenjobb from Evenjobb Hill
It is from the A44 as one crosses over the hill, coming from Kington, that the glory of the Radnor Valley explodes, just past the entrance to Gore Hill Quarry. Having passed the grey crags of Stanner Rock to the right and the dark afforested side of Hergest Ridge to the left, the grey sides of the cutting across Gore Hill add the the sense of wilderness. Suddenly the vista of the fertile, wooded and well watered Walton Basin hits one as the explorers are hit by the sight of Shangri-La. Far over on the other side of the valley can be seen Evancoyd Church standing as a sentinel on a rise at the foot of the hill crowned by the iron age fort called Castle Rings overlooking the whole valley. [ have a look at some photos of the area]
The valley is shared by four villages, although one of them, New Radnor, was once the county town of Radnorshire, and was a planned mediaeval town with a grid pattern of streets enclosed in a bank and sporting a castle on a hill. The wooden castle has long since disappeared having been sacked and burnt three times, but the view from the castle mound is well worth the effort of going up. The other villages are Walton and Kinnerton. Walton lies on the A44 and is part of Old Radnor parish, but Kinnerton has a church of its own - one of those few in Wales belonging to the Church of England, rather than the Church in Wales.The church in the photograph is Evenjobb's village church opened in 1870. Whilst clearly victorian, it has all the traditional features of anglican churches
The history of this area did not start with either Offa or an iron age fort. This land was last under the sea about 30,000,000 years ago in the ordovician times, when the warm sea water deposited the mud which became the Ludlow shales. At the end of this period land movements brought the area above the sea, and unlike almost any other part of Britain, there it has remained ever since, albeit subject to much movement of the strata and to erosion. The grey shale is easily riven but absorbs water readily. Its soft quality and its ability to shear along lines of deposition has meant that it was easy to use as building material, and many of the older houses of the area are built of it, though its softness is often a disadvantage..
In common with other parts of Britain, the land was glaciated in a number of episodes, and at the end of the last ice age, there was a very rapid melt of ice. On the side of Bache Hill and the Whimble, (the western side of the valley) the steep sided run-off ravines are clearly visible today, terminating at about 270m above sea level. At that time the land between Burfa Hill and Herrock Hill was over 270m, and trapped the floodwater so that the whole of the Walton Basin was a huge lake.
The lake burst out between Burfa and Herrock hills, and formed the valley which currently drains the whole of the Radnor Valley through the little river now known as Hindwell Brook. Nowadays this combines Summergill Brook, starting in the hills to the west of New Radnor and flowing over the 76m waterfall Water-Break-its-Neck, Cockley Brook and Hindwell Brook which arises from Hindwell Pond, the last remnants of the lake and fed by underground springs.
The whole of the roughly circular basin of the Radnor Valley, about 5 miles across, has been drained and cleared with the exception of Burfa Bog, which remains as a nature reserve. The bog itself, just within the boundaries of Evancoyd Parish, had been partially drained in the past, but is now preserved as wetland and is the haunt of badgers and, in May, wild orchids; otters have been seen there and there is an artificial otter holt. For land lying between 200 and 250 metres above sea level it is remarkably productive, the fertile soil being augmented by the relatively sheltered quality provided by the hills and the rainfall, which being in the lee of the Welsh mountains amounts to around 34 inches per year.
The earliest indication of occupation was in neolithic times when there was a henge, three times bigger than Stonehenge, half a mile across composed of huge wooden posts, across the road from Walton to Evenjobb, coupled with a greenstone axe (pictured left) found in a garden in one of the bungalows on Orchard View by the late George Lomas.
There is an interesting website about this which you can see here.
Toward the end of the neolithic period, or perhaps in the Bronze Age, the Four Stones were put in place half a mile west of Hindwell, and although their purpose is not now clear, it seems probable that they originally formed a dolmen, or burial site: others believe that there were originally five stones in a circle - a house, perhaps, or even a small temple.
There is a pleasant story about the stones; they are believed to walk to Hindwell Pool at midnight at the full moon, returning before dawn, to slake their thirst! No one admits to having seen them, though there are those whose walk back from the nearest pub, the Crown at Walton to Evenjobb might well include imagined monsters of any kind!
Before the advent of the Romans there were two iron age hill camps - settlements fortified by ditches and ramparts on the top of two of the hills - Burfa and Castle Rings. Little has been done in the way of excavation.
Behind Hindwell there are the remains of a Roman camp - a rectangular level piece of ground surrounded by low banks. This was a temporary camp site of which little can now be seen. Other than this there are small indications (pottery in the main) that the area was occupied during the time of the Romans.
During the time between the Roman departure and the arrival of the Normans, no less than five Motte and Baileys were constructed within the parish of Evancoyd. These were large mounds on top of which was built a wooden palisaded fortlet, while there was a stockade at normal ground level to house the livestock being protected from either the marauding English or the farmers further into Wales - the raiders were not too particular where they pillaged along the Welsh Marches.
The best preserved of these mottes may be seen at Burfa Bog, a wildlife reserve.Offa, the King of Mercia, had the dyke built in the eighth century (shown above) either as a defence or as a political boundary [there are arguments on both sides] and it passes through the parish on its way between Chepstow in the south and the north coast of Wales. There is more about Offa's dyke here.
Because of the fertile nature of the soil, the valley was settled throughout historical times, and our own house was built as an extension to an existing farmhouse in 1610. The older part deteriorated and became used as a barn which caught fire in 1965, and badly affected the roof of the newer part. After being derelict for 10 years it was restored in 1975 and is now a grade II listed building.
The major estate from the 1500s onward was Newcastle Court, toward Beggars Bush, a large house, reputedly haunted, which owned and farmed much of the area. But it was not wealthy. King Charles the first came through the village with 5000 soldiers and billeted himself at Bush Farm, on the northern border of the parish. Here all that could be offered was a thin gruel and an uncomfortable bed - he moaned that the place should, because of its clear poverty, be called Beggars Bush and it has been ever since. The house is still there.
In the nineteenth century the Evancoyd estate was established and by the 1870s owned most of the village, from Barland in the east, Beggars Bush in the north, almost to Kinnerton in the west and to the land adjoining Hindwell Farm. The Mynors family who owned the estate built their house (Evancoyd Court) the school (now closed), the vicarage (now a private house) and the church of St Peter's Evancoyd which took from Old Radnor, Presteigne and Kinnerton to form a completely new parish. As with most estates, it has been sold off to various people - although there remains a core estate now owned by the Lewis family through which local farmers rent their land and houses.
Although there are a number of farms spread about the place, Evenjobb village today has 40 houses and a population of about 120. Add to this the farms and there are about 150 people who call Evenjobb or Evancoyd home. There is one small workshop making pine furniture and made - to - measure kitchens, one hand made furniture maker and a battery chicken unit and the headquarters for specialist floor layers; other than this there are traditional sheep and beef farms and a small amount of forestry. The village has no post office (a casualty of the recent closures) and no shop, and although there is one bus per day (but not on Sundays) to Kington and Hereford, the timings allow only for a short shopping trip. And although it is possible to go to the county town, Llandrindod Wells [known locally as Llandod] you'd have to stay overnight to catch the return bus!
There is no organised sport, other than the annual trotting races (see photos) which excite a lot of local interest. There is a recently refurbished village hall, donated by the local "squire", Major Lewis, some years ago in which there are various activities, such as Country and Western evenings, occasional fund raising events, like Bingo and sales of goods: otherwise it is used as a meeting place for local organisations (Mothers' Union and WI).
© Richard Green 2004