Cusop - where Hay becomes Herefordshire.
Located on the very western edge of Herefordshire, the village of Cusop, recorded in the Doomsday Book as "Cheweshope", is defined along its western edge by the Dulas Brook which forms the border with Wales. With many waterfalls, the Brook is reputed to be home to trout, otter and kingfishers. The Offa's Dyke Path runs alongside the Brook and is one of the most popular walking tracks in the West of England.
Cusop is a small village with a population of roughly 380 living in approx.170 households. The parish is approx. 5.5km by 2.5km at its extremities and is in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The land is largely pastoral with several areas of woodland and it is well supplied with footpaths giving access to local walks and to the Brecon Beacons National Park. A section of the Wye Valley Walk passes through the village.
Just a 5 minute walk away is the famous market town of Hay-on-Wye, known internationally for its bookshops and for the annual Hay Literature Festival. And it is Hay that provides all the local amenities such as shops, cafes, pubs & restaurants.
There are two castles associated with the village: Cusop Castle and Mouse Castle (an unfinished motte and bailey earthwork). The parish church, St Mary's, still retains a Norman chancel arch, a Norman window, and a Norman font, and its scissor beam roof structure dates back to the 14th century. The churchyard contains the graves of the Methodist martyr William Seward and Kitty (Katherine Mary) Armstrong, victim of the notorious Hay Poisoner, as well as a ring of ancient yew trees.
Cusop Dingle, a wooded valley that forms part of the village, contains a single track road, once known locally as 'Millionaire's Row' because of the large, Victorian houses which line its route. The Dingle was home to the poisoner Herbert Rowse Armstrong, the only English solicitor ever hanged for murder. His former home, originally 'Mayfield' but now 'The Mantles', was owned by the late Martin Beales, a solicitor who worked in Armstrong's old office in Hay. Beales believed that Armstrong was innocent and published a book, The Hay Poisoner, arguing his case
The writer L.T.C Rolt spent his early childhood here between 1914 and 1922. He went on to co-found the Inland Waterways Association and the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, and to write many books on transport, engineering biography and industrial archaeology.
A Brief History
Cusop has changed dramatically in the past two centuries, having once been a hive of industrial activity. It had five working mills driven by the Dulas brook which forms a long western boundary with Wales. There were several stone quarries and the remains of limekilns can still be seen above the brook. From 1864 until the 1960’s Cusop also had a railway service, with Hay station actually being situated in the parish. In 1901 the population of the parish was 12% higher than today but with half as many dwellings.The parish also had an inn, a cider house and a school-hall, sadly, long gone.