In the early 19th century many societies were formed outside London for the study of subjects such as natural history, antiquities, literature and the new science of geology. In most rural counties the founding members belonged to the professional middle classes who could afford the subscription fee.
The Hereford Literary, Philosophical and Antiquarian Society was founded in late 1836 and until the early 1850s maintained society premises including a small museum and a library but began to suffer financial problems, maybe because there were now other similar institutions in the city including the Permanent Library. In the winter lectures were given and it is thought that in the winter of 1851 the lecturer, the Revd W. S. Symonds, suggested the formation of a field club to study the local flora and fauna. The first president of the Woolhope Club, R. M. Lingwood, had resigned from the Philosophical Society in July 1851, so there is some suspicion that the formation of the Club was already underway.
The first official meeting of the Club was held on 13 April 1852 when the RULES of the Club were first set, and the first Field Meeting on 18 May 1852. See the 1852 Rules here:
The early members were expected to be able to walk considerable distances, though the earlier field meetings usually ended with a meal at a pub. See a list of the founding members here
The Club still holds lectures in the winter months and field meetings in the summer, though buses and cars have replaced carriages and trains.
There are much fuller accounts of the history of the Club. See:
|F. C. Morgan||‘Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club: An outline of its History 1851-1951’, Herefordshire, the centenary volume published in 1954, pp.1-9.|
|J. W. Tonkin||‘The Woolhope Club’, A Herefordshire Miscellany, the sesquicentennial volume published in 2000, pp15-16.|
|J. H. Ross||‘Founders of the Woolhope Club’, ibid., pp.17-26.|