An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 1, South west. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1931.
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67 VOWCHURCH (B.b.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXVIII, N.W., (b)XXXVIII, N.E., (c)XXXVIII, S.W.)
Vowchurch is a parish in the Golden Valley 9 m. W.S.W. of Hereford. The church and the old vicarage are the principal monuments.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Bartholomew (Plate 199), stands on the W. side of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with some very long narrow stones; the dressings are of the same material; the roofs are covered with stone slates and slates. Part of the S. wall of the Nave is of early 12th-century date, and parts of the N. wall are perhaps of the same period. The rest of the nave and the Chancel were re-built late in the 13th or early in the 14th century. At some uncertain period, perhaps in the 17th century, the nave was lengthened a few feet at the W. end. The timber bell-turret was perhaps built c. 1522, when a bequest was made towards the erection of the steeple by Thomas ap Harry; c. 1613, the roof was mostly reconstructed on oak posts, probably owing to the supposed instability of the side walls. The church has been repaired in modern times and the 17th-century South Porch re-built.
The construction of the 17th-century roof is interesting.
Architectural Description—The Chancel and Nave (87 ft. by 23¾ ft.) are structurally undivided. In the E. wall is a late 13th-century window, perhaps subsequently heightened, of three lights, the side lights are pointed and the middle light formed by carrying the mullions up to the two-centred head. In the N. wall are four windows, the easternmost of c. 1300 and of two trefoiled lights with soffit-cusping; the second window is modern; the third window is similar to the E. window; the much weathered westernmost window is of early 14th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatre-foiled spandrel in a two-centred head and moulded jambs and mullion; the early 14th-century N. doorway has jambs and segmental-pointed arch of one moulded order. In the S. wall are four windows, the two easternmost are similar to the easternmost window in the N. wall, but partly restored; the third window is similar to the third window in the N. wall; the westernmost window is a single round-headed 12th-century light; the 14th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two wave-moulded orders with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a modern window.
The Bell-turret, at the W. end of the nave, is square on plan, timber-framed and with a two-light louvred opening in each face; it is probably of 16th-century date but stands on a 17th-century timber-construction, consisting of four stop-chamfered posts and cross-beams with ogee braces on the E. side and diagonal braces on the other three sides; in the middle of the cross-beam is a semi-circular panel carved with flower and foliage and having a pendant below it carved with a man's head.
The South Porch is modern but incorporates some re-used 17th-century timbers including a tie-beam in the S. gable, an apex-post with acorn-pendant and a series of turned balusters in the upper part of each side.
The Roof (Plate 199) is of ten bays with nine trusses, two of which, the second and the third, are of the 14th century and of collar-beam type with arched braces below the collar-beam and sloping struts above, forming, with the principal rafters, a diamond-shaped octofoiled opening. The remaining trusses are of the 17th century and stand on chamfered posts set against the side walls; the trusses themselves are of queen-post type with subsidiary posts, collars with braces and two posts above each collar-beam; the moulded and chamfered tie-beams have curved braces or brackets, terminating in pendants and springing from moulded console-corbels, carved with foliage, etc., the easternmost pair of corbels has the sacred initials, alpha and omega and a cross; the two westernmost tie-beams are earlier material re-used; both are chamfered and embattled and are of late 15th or early 16th-century date; the third pair of posts, from the E., have each a carved shield-of-arms applied to the face; that on the N. has the initials I.P. and that on the S. the initials R.V. and the date 1613; the arms are those of Parry and perhaps Vaughan; the shields applied to the other posts are modern.
Fittings—Altar: In nave—re-set on sill to S.E. window, part of slab with four consecration-crosses, mediæval. Chairs: In chancel—two, one with turned front legs, carved rails, shaped arms, back with enriched arcaded panel and fluted top rail; second with turned legs and moulded rails, shaped arms, panelled back with design of round sinkings and top rail enriched with conventional foliage, both early 17th-century. Chest: In vestry—of oak, panelled, front with carved foliage-enrichment to styles, rails and panels, 17th-century. Communion Rails: with moulded upper and lower rails and turned balusters; gate in middle with panelled uprights and three attached half-balusters, hung on square posts, 17th-century. Door: In S. doorway—of battens with moulded fillets, mostly modern, planted on, 17th-century. Floor-slabs: In nave—(1) name covered, 1710; (2) to I.P., 1706. Font: hemispherical bowl with deep band of scalloping to lower part, interrupted on E. side for two large leaves, 12th-century, stem modern. Panelling: In nave—on side walls, E. of doorways, panelled dado, 17th-century. Piscina: In chancel— recess with moulded jambs and two-centred head, stone shelf, late 13th-century, sill modern. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1688, the cup with inscription and date 1693, also a 17th-century wooden cup with baluster-stem and egg-shaped bowl with engraved ornament on outside including three circles enclosing birds. Recesses: In nave—in N. wall, two with chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed heads, probably tomb-recesses, 14th-century; in S. wall, small plain rectangular recess. Screen: between chancel and nave, of three bays including central doorway, doorway flanked by posts having male and female terminal-pilasters on the W. face, with conventional fruit and leaves above, beam above doorway carved on W. face with a large rosette flanked by two monsters, pediment above with restored moulded capping, side bays with close lower panels and open upper part with turned balusters, chamfered main beam with restored moulded capping; fixed on face of wall-post on S. side, lozenge-shaped panel inscribed "Heare below ly the body of Thomas Hill ande Marget his wife whose children made this skryne," similar board on N. with cherub-head, date 1613 and motto "Vive ut post vivas." Seating: In chancel—two quire-benches, one on S. with panelled back enriched with ornament of overlapping plates and with conventional flowers in the panels, one panel inscribed R.K. 1636; book-rest or desk with moulded posts, probably remade of old materials; similar bench on N. but without carved flowers and with initials and date R.K. 1636; bookrest similar to that on S. Against side walls of chancel, two benches with square legs, backs with moulded rails and simple ornament; cartouches on back of N. bench with the initials I.P., W.P. and W.T. Stool: In chancel—incorporating rails with guilloche-ornament, early 17th-century. Miscellanea: on S. porch— iron ornamental gable-cross, 17th-century.
b(2). Fortified Mount at Monnington Court, 1¼ m. E.N.E. of the church, stands on a broad natural terrace. The oval mount, about 60 yards by 52 yards, rises 12½ ft. above the partly wet ditch which surrounds it. A stream which runs through part of the ditch appears to have been used as an outer defence to a crescent-shaped bailey which lies to the W. of the mount.
c(3). Tumps (Plan, p. xxxv), N.W. of Chanstone Mill and 750 yards S.S.E. of the church, stand at the bottom of the valley on either side the stream. The larger tump, to the N., is about 64 yards in external diameter and rises 14 ft. above the bottom of the ditch which surrounds it; the outer scarp of the ditch returns northwards on the W. side where it adjoins the stream. About 50 yards N.E. of the tump is a length of deep ditch.
The smaller tump, to the S., is oval and about 40 to 46 yards in external diameter. It rises 4 ft. above the bottom of the ditch, of which traces remain surrounding the tump.
Condition—Of larger tump, good; of smaller, bad.
a(4). The Old Vicarage (Plate 17), now three tenements, 50 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are covered with stone slates. It is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.W. and S.E. and was built in the first half of the 16th century. The house has been shortened on the S.W. in modern times, and most of the S.E. wing has been refaced in brick. The close-set timber-framing is exposed on the whole of the N.W. front, that in the gable of the S.E. wing being set in herring-bone fashion. Between the storeys is a shallow pent-roof. The timber-framing is also exposed at the back of the S.W. wing. Inside the building, the S.W. wing has moulded ceiling-beams and chamfered joists.
b(5). Chapel House, now three tenements, at Monnington Straddle, 1¼ m. E.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was built probably in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and S. Early in the 17th century a wing and porch were added on the N. of the W. wing, and a low addition was made on the E. of the S. wing. The timber-framing is mostly exposed, and the 17th-century wing has moulded barge-boards and a shaped apex-post to the gable; the upper floor has a projecting bay-window with moulded head, sill and bracket; the side lights are blocked. The 17th-century porch has a post at the angle, and the W. side had formerly a range of turned balusters, of which one only remains. The central chimney-stack has two old shafts, set diagonally. Inside the building are some exposed ceiling-beams, including a moulded beam in the 17th-century wing. There are some old battened doors and panelling. The front door has ornamental strap-hinges and scutcheon-plate.
a(6). Earthwork, in Lower Park Wood, 200 yards S. of Poston House and nearly 1 m. N. of the church, is a small promontory-fort from which the ground falls sharply on all sides except the N. On this side it is defended by a bank and ditch, which stop towards the E. to provide an entrance to the work. On the W. side is a scarp, which is largely artificial, but the other sides are defended only by the fall of the ground. The area, including the defences, is about 5¼ acres.
a(7). Earthwork, about 1 m. E.N.E. of the church, consists of a rectangular depression with a bank on the S.W. and on parts of the N.W. and S.E. sides; the angles are slightly rounded. The bank is about 5–6 ft. high, and the area, including the defences, about an acre. A broad but slight bank, perhaps a roadway, runs nearly due W. from the middle of the S.W. side.