Benbow Pond | Following Wilford Woodruff's Steps in England

Videographer: James Dalrymple

Speakers: Peter Fagg and Louise Manning

Producer: Smith Family Foundation



Peter Fagg: Wilford Woodruff arrived with John Taylor into Liverpool in January of 1840 and then he went down to what's called the Staffordshire, the pottery area, and there he began to have great success. He was there for about six weeks, baptized about 40 people, and he was at one of the meetings in Hanley with the Saints there, and he suddenly got the distinct impression this was gonna be his last meeting with them.

At the end of that meeting, two people came up. One was Theodore Turley says, "Come with me to Birmingham." The other one was a man called William Benbow, a grocer by trade who said, "I think you should come and meet my brother, John Benbow, who lives down in Herefordshire." So Wilford considered those options and he decided that he would come here (to Herefordshire).

And so Wilford, William Benbow, and his eight year-old son walked 15 miles to this farm, and there they met John and Jane Benbow, who had the farm and 300 acres of land. 

Louise Manning: We are at Benbow Pond, which is in Herefordshire in a small parish called Castle Frome, and it was here in 1840 that Wilford Woodruff came.

Peter: He arrived on the 3rd of March. By the 10th of March, not only were the Benbow's baptized here, but also 10 of their family, and word began to spread among the United Brethren.

Louise: Anyone who's read Wilford Woodruff's journal, which I've sat and read, he talks about how he sat up all night talking to John and Jane Benbow. So they must have really connected in those first few days.

Peter: Now sometimes when we talk about the United Brethren, we might think of one little congregation meeting in one little spot, but that was not the case. They had about 40 different meeting places scattered miles across. Some met in homes like the Benbow's. Some had an actual chapel like the Gadfielm Elm Chapel, and word began spreading amongst these congregations and people started to come here. 

Louise: It was a great time of turmoil in England. We were in the heart of the industrial revolution. Times are actually very hard here, quite high child mortality at the time. 

Peter: Over the next few months, we see Wilford himself record 117 people that were baptized in this pond, and that was just from his record of people that he was baptizing.

Louise: Even today, it's still really amazing that after 30 days they sold everything they had and decided that they were going to go off onto a new life, and not only that, they were going to pay for many of the young people in their community to go with them to form a new community in the US and that takes real bravery to decide that you are going to go somewhere new.

Peter: And so it was a wonderful harvest, you know, the field really was quite white in this area.