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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31 EASTNOR (E.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. XLII, N.W.)
Eastnor is a parish on the E. boundary of the county, adjoining the parish of Ledbury on the E. The camp on Midsummer Hill and Bronsil Castle are the principal monuments.
(1). Midsummer Hill Camp occupies the summit of Midsummer Hill (937 ft.) and Hollybush Hill, 1¾ m. E. of the church. It covers an area of about 30 acres and is of irregular form, generally following the contours. It is entirely surrounded by a double rampart with a medial ditch, and there is a slight spoil-ditch within the inner rampart. There are two main entrances: that on the N. is approached by a curved trackway, while the inner rampart on the E. is turned inwards slightly at the gap. The second entrance (Plate 2) is in the re-entrant angle formed by a small valley; the outer rampart is gapped, but the inner rampart is turned inwards on both sides. There are now three other entrances, where the Red Earl's Dyke, the Shire Ditch and a bank to the S.W. meet the main enclosure. Within the enclosure are still to be seen a number of rounded hollows, generally about 6 yards in diameter, which represent hut-sites; the S.E. slope of the summit of Midsummer Hill is said to have had a series of eleven terraces on which over 200 hut-sites could be traced as late as 1875; a few of these are still visible, as are traces of the terracing. Immediately against the enclosure to the W. of the N. entrance is a raised platform, proved by excavation to be the site of a large hut; there are traces of a second platform E. of the entrance. On Hollybush Hill, E. of the S. entrance, is a large pillowmound, 50 yards by 9 yards, and about 2½ ft. high; it has a surrounding ditch. About 64 yards to the N. is a circular mound about 14 yards in diameter and 1½ ft. high with traces of a ditch; there are faint remains of two smaller mounds to the W. and N.W. and a series of small banks to the N. To the S.W. of the main enclosure and embracing the small valley above referred to, are lines of entrenchment—the Red Earl's Dyke to the S. and a slight rampart towards the W. The former will be dealt with separately, the latter has traces of a ditch on the inner or E. side and curves round to the E. at the S. end. It is uncertain if this or both banks formed an outer enclosure, but in 1875, 40 hut-sites could be traced within the area. The small stream running down the valley has been dammed at three points to form reservoirs, once at the spring just within the inner enclosure to the W. of the S. entrance and twice within the outer area just described.
Excavations were made at several points within the main enclosure in 1924, and a certain amount of pottery was found which was held to indicate an occupation extending from late La Tène I, or early La Tène II, to La Tène III. Three superimposed stone pavings were found at one point in the ditch which presumably indicated as many consecutive occupations: the original ditch was formed by cutting the outer scarp of the inner rampart at its base to a nearly vertical slope with a revetment of dry stone walling, including Llandovery stone.
(2). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble and ashlar and the roofs are tiled. The West Tower was built probably late in the 14th century, but the rest of the church, including Chancel, N. Chapel and Vestry, Nave, N Aisle and South Porch, was re-built by Sir G. Scott in 1852; the nave incorporates a 12th-century doorway and other old material.
Architectural Description—The Chancel and North Chapel and Aisle have no ancient features. The Nave has a N. arcade partly of late 12th and 15th-century materials re-used and scraped; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals; the E. respond is semicylindrical and has a re-used scalloped capital of the 12th century; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The late 12th-century S. doorway, restored, re-tooled and re-set, has jambs of two orders, the inner rounded and the outer with an attached and keeled shaft with modern moulded base, scalloped capital and moulded abacus; the arch is round and of two rounded orders with a chamfered label; the inner order is continued from the jambs.
The West Tower (12½ ft. by 13½ ft.) is of early 15th-century date and of three stages, the lower undivided externally, and has a moulded plinth and embattled parapet. The lower parts of the W. and S. walls are faced with ashlar, but the rest of the walling is of rubble; on the N. face are the toothings of a wall extending towards the N. and indicating that the former N. aisle extended W. to this point. The tower-arch has responds and two-centred arch of two continuous wave-moulded orders. The partly restored W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights, with modern tracery in a two-centred head; the reveals are casementmoulded; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The second stage has a window of a single pointed light in the S. and W. walls. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the reveals are casement-moulded.
Fittings—Bells: six; 6th by Abraham Rudhall, 1689. Book: "Breeches" Bible of 1560. Chests: In vestry—made up with gadrooned base, drawer and two bands of ornament, one with a putto and the other with the date 1632 and grotesque scrolls, two small figures on either side of keyhole in lid, Italian. In N. aisle—panelled chest with figure-subject, etc., in pokerwork on top, front and ends, 17th-century, Italian. Font: cylindrical tapering bowl, 12th-century or earlier, with moulded base, 13th-century, badly broken. Monuments: In churchyard—at S.E. end, (1) to Richard Rickards, 1705, headstone; (2) to Elizabeth, wife of Edward Grubb, 1701, headstone; (3) to . . . Perkes, 1684, and John Perkes, headstone. Plate: includes an Elizabethan cup (Plate 69), cut down, and a cover-paten with the date 1572.
Condition—Good, mostly re-built.
(3). The Red Earl's Dyke and Shire Ditch form the existing county boundary to the S. and N. of Midsummer Hill Camp. The Red Earl's Dyke is supposed to have been thrown up by Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, about 1287. It has a ditch on the W. side which has been destroyed by quarrying and is next seen on Ragged Stone Hill, where its lines are not so definite. As has been said in describing Midsummer Hill Camp, the first stretch may have formed part of the outer enclosure of that earthwork, perhaps altered and strengthened in the 13th century. The Shire Ditch (Plate 2), to the N. of Midsummer Hill Camp, consists of a slight bank with a ditch on the E. side. It extends northward to the camp on the Herefordshire Beacon and can be traced thence to the Worcestershire Beacon.
Condition—Good in parts.
(4). Bronsil Castle (Plan, p. xxvi), ruins and moat, about 1 m. E. of the church. Richard Beauchamp, afterwards Lord Beauchamp of Powick, had licences to crenellate at Eastnor in 1460 (Cal. of Charter Rolls). The castle which he built incorporated some older structure and consisted of a rectangular enclosure with curtainwalls, octagonal angle-towers, a gatehouse on the W., intermediate towers in the middle of the other sides, and a central courtyard. Of these buildings only foundations and a few fragments, including part of the gatehouse, remain. The gatehouse had flanking octagonal towers of which part of the northern survives; it was probably of two storeys with a basement and has an external string-course with a square-headed window above it. At the foot of the wall is a round outlet, probably of a drain; the wall is of two builds, the inner being the earlier in date. Adjoining the site of the N.E. angle-tower is a fragment including remains of a circular staircase. The moat, about 20 yards wide, surrounds the castle and is still wet; it is crossed by a modern bridge on the W. side opposite the gatehouse. The moat is surrounded by an outer bank and remains of what was probably an outer ditch. To the E. and S.E. are further banks, possibly to form fish-ponds.
Condition—Of ruins, bad.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and the roofs are tiled or thatched. Most of the buildings have exposed timber-framing and ceiling-beams, and many have old chimneystacks.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
(5). Eastnor Farm, house, 150 yards S.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century, and has an added bay at the N. and S. ends. Both the E. and W. fronts have a range of four gables; the lower part of the E. front is of modern brick.
On a stone cottage, S. of the house, is a wooden clock-turret containing a bell inscribed "Tho. Cocks Anno D. 169 (o ?)", and surmounted by a weather-vane pierced with the initials and date T.C. 1683.
(6). Cottage, at the road-fork, 170 yards E. of the church.
(7). Cottage, on the W. side of the road, 650 yards N.N.W. of the church.
(8). Cottage, 400 yards N. of the road and 1,050 yards E. of the church.
(9). Cottage (Plate 29), on the N. side of the road, at Wayend Street, 400 yards S.S.E. of (8).
(10). Cottage, 50 yards S.S.E. of (9).
(11). Cottage, on the S. side of the road, 80 yards S. of (10).
(12). Bronsil Cottages, three cottages on the W. side of the road and about 520 yards E. and E.N.E. of (11).
Condition—Of middle cottage, ruinous.
(13). Martins, house, now two tenements, 450 yards S. of (12), was of L-shaped plan, but a later block added in the angle made the plan rectangular; there is a modern addition on the W. The walls are partly faced with rubble.
(14). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, over 1½ m. E. of the church.
(15). Cottage, on the S. side of the road, 200 yards E.S.E. of (14).
(16). Cottage, 50 yards N.E. of (15), is partly of rubble.
(17). Cottage, on the W. side of the road at Clencher's Mill, nearly 1¼ m. S. of the church.
(18). Cottage, 150 yards S.S.W. of (17).
(19). Bank, running E. and W. about 295 yards S. of Bronsil Castle, is about 32 ft. wide and about 5 ft. high. It has traces of a ditch on the N. side and extends for about 100 yards.