A few weeks ago we took a two-day trip to Wales and Herefordshire. Our second morning on the trip we once again picked up Peter Fagg to show us around the important church history sites in the area. We headed out to Hill Farm, also referred to as Benbow Farm. During the time of the second apostolic mission a family called Benbow lived in this farm. They had recently become affiliated with the United Brethren Church when Willford Woodruff visited them and began to teach them about the gospel. They were soon baptized in a pond in their farm. Wilford baptized many more members of the church in this pond. At one time he had stones thrown at his as he was baptizing in the pond. Today a lady who is not a member of the church owns the farm. However, the church has purchased the piece of land with the pond on it and it is available to visit.
After the Benbow’s were baptized many people were also baptized. In the span of five days 32 people were baptized and all but one of the 600 members of the United Brethren Church were eventually baptized. Just ten months after Wilford first arrived at Hill Farm over 1300 people in the area had been baptized. The Benbows later helped publish the fist Book of Mormons in England. They also donated a great sum of money to the Perpetual Emigration Fund to help saints come to America.
After the Benbow’s Farm, we ventured out to a small town nearby where we visited a church. In this church a few very important LDS men were christened. William Carter who became the first plowman in Utah, The future owner of ZCMI and the first postman in Utah were all christened in this church. It was very interesting to be there where these men began.
Next we took a very steep hike to the top of Beacon Hill. This is the place Wilford Woodruff often came to think. It is easy to see why he found it so peaceful and it is so high above the rest of the land. You have a perfect 360 degree view from right there on the hill. It was a great experience to sit there and listen to Peter read some of the poetry Wilford had written. This is also the place where Wilford told Brigham Young he needed to serve a mission up north. This place was definitely an inspired point.
Lastly we went to Gadfield Elm Church. This church is the oldest LDS Chapel existing on earth today. It began as a meetinghouse for the United Bretheren. However, after Wilford converted almost all of the church it became a place for the Mormon’s to meet. The chapel was later sold to help in the immigration efforts. After that time it was used for an array of purposes. However, in 1994 a group of Latter-Day Saints bought the land and restored the building and gave it back to the church. Today it stands open to visitors. There are missionaries assigned to the building. However they are not able to be there all the time so for people to gain access to this building there is a code set up. On the door is a sheet of paper and a handle with an electronic code. On the paper are clues and questions about the LDS Church. You must answer each one correctly to be able to open the door. I thought this is really awesome and interesting. The questions were pretty simple and most members of the church would be able to answer them. However, they would be quite difficult for a nonmember. Thus the church is kept in good care.