Local characters.

Albert Brydges Farn – The Butterfly Expert.

Albert Brydges Farn, known as A.B.F. was a famous occupant of Crockers Ash House. He was a keen scientist with interests in ornithology, zoology and lepidoptery. The latter meaning that he was, above all else, an expert in Butterflies and Moths.
He first moved to Herefordshire in 1906 with the intention of saving the last Mazarine Blue Butterflies. It was a futile task and the last known one was found in 1922. Whilst here at Crockers Ash A.B.F studied Herefordshire’s signature butterfly, the Comma and collected butterflies such as European Maps, Purple Emperors and Wood Whites. He fished for Salmon, reared Silver Washed Fritillaries and made his superb collections of butterflies and moths available to invited scientists. He had the largest collection of British butterflies and moths in the world.
He was an early environmentalist and believed that no alien species of flora or fauna should be brought into the British Isles, another futile wish! He also knew that pollutants from industrialisation would skew natural selection. In fact he proved Darwin’s theory of evolution of the species through his study of butterflies. His discovery of Industrial Melanism (the development of dark sooty deposits on butterflies), was proof of natural selection but was wrongly attributed to J.W.Tutt some 18 years after A.B.F. wrote to Charles Darwin about it.
He was not a popular man due to his pedantry and eccentricity, his death went unreported, but he is buried (along with his mistress) in St Swithin’s Church Ganarew. He is an unsung hero, as we would be ignorant of extinctions and the pressure we exert on wildlife if it were not for A.B.F. and collectors like him.
You can see his grave at the front of the graveyard of St Swithens, his house, Crockers Ash House is marked on the map and, of course, if you enjoy Butterflies you can visit the Symonds Yat Butterfly Farm.
Picture of Crockers Ash House, and the Grave at St Swithin’s
Mark on map the house and point the way to St Swithin’s

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