An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 2, East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1932.
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25 COWARNE, MUCH (C.c.)
a(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate 120) stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone and the roofs are covered with slates. In the first half of the 13th century the West Tower and the N. arcade were built and a N. aisle added; the S. arcade and aisle were built about the middle of the same century, and the Chancel re-built and the North Vestry added late in the century. The South Aisle was perhaps re-built and widened in the 14th century. The N. aisle was destroyed and the arcade built up at some uncertain date, perhaps in the 16th century, and the tower was repaired and buttressed at various periods. The former spire was destroyed by lightning in 1840; the church was restored in 1873, and the South Porch is modern.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (29½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has a late 14th-century E. window, partly restored and of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall are two much restored late 13th-century windows, each of two pointed lights in a two-centred head; between them is a modern doorway. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern modern except for the splays, and the western similar to those in the N. wall, but unrestored; between them is a doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head. The late 13th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, interrupted at the springing by moulded imposts.
The Nave (41 ft. by 24 ft.) has an early 13th-century N. arcade, of three bays, now blocked; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders and spring from round columns and half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases; re-set in the blocking walls are two late 13th-century windows, each of two pointed lights in a two-centred head; the early 13th-century N. doorway, re-set in the middle bay and now blocked, has chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded label and imposts. The mid to late 13th-century S. arcade is of three bays and has two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, springing from quatre-foiled columns with small intermediate shafts, moulded capitals (Plate 17) and bases; the responds have attached half-columns.
The South Aisle (18½ ft. wide) is probably of the 14th century and has an E. window of three cinque-foiled lights with plain intersecting tracery in a two-centred head. In the S. wall are two windows similar to the E. window, but of two lights only; the S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two moulded orders, with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a round 14th-century window.
The West Tower (17¾ ft. by 18½ ft.) is of three stages with an embattled parapet, mostly modern. The 13th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders with restored imposts at the springing-level. There are two windows in the W. wall and one in the S., all of the end of the 12th century, one retaining its original lancet-head and the others widened and having round heads. The second stage has a lancet-window in the S. wall. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two pointed lights divided by a shaft with a square capital and all recessed within a two-centred outer order. The tower buttresses are of various dates; the middle buttress on the W. has an inscribed panel giving the date 1557. The date 1831 on the S.W. buttress was cut when several buttresses were altered.
Fittings—Chair (Plate 43): In chancel—with turned front legs and shaped arms, panelled back with lozengeenrichment and carved top-rail and cresting, early 17th-century. Churchyard Cross: S. of chancel—part of octagonal to square shaft on octagonal base, square sub-base and step, 14th or 15th-century. Communion Table (Plate 50): with turned and moulded legs, enriched top and moulded lower rails, 17th-century. Monuments: In chancel—against S. wall, (1) of Sybil wife of William Reed, 1624, effigy of woman (Plate 122) in costume of period, panelled back-piece with kneeling figures of two sons and two daughters, flanked by panelled pilasters supporting frieze and semi-circular pediment with three shields-of-arms. In S. aisle—at E. end, (2) mutilated effigy in mail armour with long surcoat, remains of shield on left arm with traces of a lion, legs crossed and broken off, slab with hollow-chamfered edge enriched with small shields, late 13th-century; against S. wall, (3) of Edmunde Fox, 1617, and Anne his wife, altar-tomb (Plate 121) with gadrooned edge, on front kneeling figures of three sons and seven daughters, and at E. end a cradle (Plate 59) with three infants, on tomb, effigies (Plate 106) of man in civil costume and wife; on wall above, tablet with shield-of-arms. Piscina: In chancel—recess with ogee head and remains of two round drains, probably 14th-century. In E. respond of N. arcade—broken corbel-capital with drain, late 13th-century. In S. aisle—in E. wall, recess with ogee head and round drain, 14th-century; in S. wall, similar but larger recess with octofoiled drain. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1572, with band of engraved ornament on cup and date on paten. Miscellanea: In chancel—re-set in S. wall, head-corbel or label-stop, 13th or 14th-century. In chancel—on E. wall, carved oak figures of St. Peter and another apostle, late 17th or 18th-century.
a(3). Dovecote (Plate 36), at Cowarne Court about ½ m. S.S.W. of the church, is a round building of rubble with a conical roof of tiles and stone slates. It has no definite indications of date and may be mediæval. The doorway is square-headed with a heavy oak frame; the roof is capped with a 17th or 18th-century wooden lantern. Inside, the building is lined with stone nests and originally had a domed roof of stone; the middle part of this has been broken away.
a(4). Parsonage Farm (Plate 26), house, formerly vicarage, 400 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1600, but the W. end has been re-built and shortened in modern times. Much of the timber-framing, in square panels, is exposed. On the S. front is a two-storeyed porch (Plate 31), of which the upper storey projects on a moulded bressummer and shaped brackets and has pendant posts at the angles; the lower storey has moulded angle-posts with a segmental arch to the entrance; the side walls have moulded balusters; the gable has moulded barge-boards and a pendant at the apex. The stone chimney-stack, at the N. end of the house, has two brick shafts set diagonally. Inside the building are some exposed chamfered ceiling-beams and some late 17th-century doors of moulded battens.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and the roofs are covered with tiles or slates. Many of the buildings have exposed timber-framing, externally, original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
b(13). Hillend Farm, house and outbuilding, 1 m. E.S.E. of the church. The House has 18th-century and modern additions on the N. The framing in the W. gable is set diagonally. The S. front has been re-faced.
b(22). Little Richley, house, 180 yards S. of (21), has been enlarged and the roof altered. Inside the building, the early 18th-century staircase has turned balusters, straight strings and square newels; there are two panelled doors of the same date.