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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HEREFORDSHIRE Vol. II
Eastern and central Herefordshire would appear to be richer in pre-historic earthworks than those parts of the county neighbouring on the Welsh hills. The camps on the Herefordshire Beacon, on Midsummer and Hollybush Hills, Wall Hills Camp, Ledbury, and Capler Camp, Woolhope, particularly the first two, are remarkable examples of hill-top fortresses. Credenhill Camp was perhaps the native predecessor of the Roman town of Magna. Other important camps are on less elevated ground; such are Sutton Walls Camp and Wall Hills Camp, Thornbury; the former is traditionally connected with King Offa and the death of St. Ethelbert. Most of these earthworks date, in all probability, from the early Iron Age, but little excavation has been done to establish this point.
Mediæval earthworks are comparatively infrequent, though the more level nature of much of the ground in East Herefordshire is marked by an increased number of homestead-moats. A few mottes, such as Mortimer's Castle, Much Marcle, and Lower Court, Munsley, have survived, and there are moated castle-sites at Bronsil Castle, Eastnor, and Ashperton Castle.
The area surveyed in the present volume includes the sites of the small provincial town of Magna (Kenchester) and the industrial settlement of Ariconium (?) (Weston-under-Penyard). The former lay on the 12th Antonine Iter and the latter on the 13th. Otherwise the Roman structural remains recorded in the district are almost negligible. The general consideration of the Roman remains in the county will be reserved for the final volume.
The materials used in the eastern parts of the county do not differ to any great extent from those employed in the S.W. district. The secular buildings are more generally of timber than in the more mountainous district treated in the last volume, but otherwise the local red sandstone is the prevailing material.
The only structural survival of the pre-Conquest period is the possible example at Tedstone Delamere, with the triangular head of a doorway, but at Acton Beauchamp an early 9th-century cross-shaft is re-used as a lintel and a stone with curious decoration at Cradley is perhaps also of pre-Conquest date. The figure of St. Peter and the cross over the S. doorway at Bromyard may just possibly have belonged to the pre-Conquest minster which is known to have existed there. The cross-shaft at Acton Beauchamp may be compared with the cross-head at Cropthorne (Worcester) and the cross-shaft at Wroxeter (Salop). It is very desirable that it should be taken out of the wall and its other faces exposed.
The earliest work of the succeeding age is often distinguished by the use of herring-bone masonry, and of this there is a highly remarkable example at the ruined church of Edvin Loach. Occasional courses of herring-bone work also appear at Munsley and Mathon, both, perhaps, dating from c. 1100 or a little later. No church of this period with an apse now survives, but excavations have established the former existence of one at Tarrington, a second is said to have existed at Mathon, and a third at Pencombe was destroyed in the 19th century. Fownhope still retains its 12th-century central tower and there are remains of a similar tower at Mordiford. Castle Frome is a very complete example of a small 12th-century church with a square end. Of the florid mid to late 12th-century decoration found at Kilpeck and Rowlstone there are examples in this district in the re-set tympana at Fownhope, Stretton Sugwas and Brinsop, and in the remarkable font at Castle Frome; the tympanum at Fownhope is carved with a Virgin and Child, the one at Stretton Sugwas with Samson and the lion, and that at Brinsop with a mounted figure of St. George subduing the dragon. The minor decoration at Brinsop reproduces almost exactly some of the features at Shobdon and is probably by the same hand. Enriched doorways of more ordinary type can be seen at Bromyard and Yatton Chapel. There is evidence of considerable building activity at the end of the 12th century when the important church at Ledbury was begun but not completed, the large but simple church at Bosbury was built, a good tower added at Wellington and minor work done at Bromyard, Upton Bishop and elsewhere.
The best 13th-century work is to be seen at Colwall, Bromyard, Marden, Canon Pyon and Much Marcle, and in the towers of Ledbury and Bosbury; these towers, with a third at Holmer, are remarkable as standing detached from their respective churches.
The outer N. chapel at Ledbury is a rich example of early 14th-century work with a profusion of ball-flower ornament, and the apsidal chancel at Marden, of the same date, may well have inspired the larger building of the same form at Madley. Other 14th-century building may be noted at Bodenham, Ledbury Hospital and Dinmore.
Little of the 15th-century work is of any note except the central tower at Much Marcle, the vaulted N. chapel at King's Capel and the vaulted tower at Linton. The only other example of vaulting in the district is the early 16th-century Morton Chapel at Bosbury, which has a fan-vault in two bays.
Post Reformation building or rebuilding is almost confined to the S. transept, tower and part of the nave at How Capel, built by Sir William Gregory in 1693, and to the W. tower at Canon Frome, built in 1680. The nave-arcades at Ross and the upper part of the tower with the spire at Ledbury were re-built in the 18th century.
The best timber roof in the district is that with hammer-beam trusses over the nave at Holmer, dating from the 15th century. There are plain but good 14th or 15th-century roofs at Colwall, Wellington and Ledbury, and an elaborate mid 14th-century roof over the porch at Wellington. The chancel at Kenchester has a Jacobean roof with somewhat unusual detail.
There appears to have been a minster or monastery at Bromyard (Arch. Journ. xxx., p. 174) in the time of Berhtwulf of Mercia, c. 840, which was probably that elsewhere called Frome, from the name of the river on which it stood. At Livers Ocle (Lire Ocle), in Ocle Pychard parish, there was a cell of the Benedictine Abbey of Lire in Normandy, of which there are no recognizable remains. At Dinmore there survives the chapel of a Preceptory of Knights Hospitallers and perhaps some remains of the domestic buildings. The Hospital of St. Katherine at Ledbury is of considerable interest as retaining its 14th-century chapel and hall under one roof; an almshouse of c. 1656 at Bromyard may also be mentioned. There are two timber-framed buildings at Cradley and Bosbury, formerly used as school-houses.
The volume includes two small towns of more than ordinary interest from the point of view of their domestic architecture. Ledbury has preserved a high proportion of its early buildings, though many of them are masked by later fronts. Sufficient remains, however, to render the town eminently picturesque, Church Row and some of the views in the main street forming highly attractive groups of English timber-framing. In the middle of the marketplace is the timber-framed Market Hall, begun after 1617 and probably a design of John Abel, the king's master-carpenter.
Ross-on-Wye, though more picturesquely situated than Ledbury, has been far more extensively modernized. It still retains, however, a few good examples of street architecture, particularly the group known as the house of the Man of Ross. Here, also, the market-place retains its Market Hall, a stone structure in the Classical style erected probably soon after the Restoration.
Turning now to individual houses, a number of timber-framed buildings are recorded, of 14th or very early 15th-century date. These include Amberley Court, Marden, Thing Hill Grange, Withington, a building in Bye Street, Ledbury (called the Bishop's Palace, and now cut up into tenements), Peg's Farm, Wellington Heath, Wooding Farm, Thornbury, Upton Court, Upton Bishop, and Lower Marston, Pencombe. Some of these retain the screen-truss with posts or speres which is usual, at this date, in west-country houses. It may also be noted that the timber-framing, where it is preserved, in these early buildings is widely spaced to form a square framework, the close-set studding not being commonly employed until the latter part of the 15th century. Lower Marston has an interesting two-storeyed timber porch of the same period. Amberley Court retains practically the whole of its early structure, and though many of its features are concealed by later work, it is a remarkably complete example of its period.
To the same age belongs the important stone manor-house of Brinsop Court, retaining its first-floor hall with an open roof and an earlier 14th-century wing on the opposite side of the courtyard. Broadfield Court, Bodenham, also retains parts of a stone-built 14th-century house.
Lower Brockhampton is probably of early 15th-century date and has an open hall, a later timber-framed gatehouse and a moat. The Master's house, St. Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury, also retains considerable remains of the 15th-century structure, and there are a fair number of smaller mediæval houses of less importance. The Bishop's Manor House or palace at Bosbury retains only its stone-built gatehouse-range. Rudhall House, Brampton Abbotts, on the other hand, is largely an early 16th-century and later building with enriched timber-work.
Of timber-framed houses, mainly of 16th and 17th-century date, the best examples are Upper Wythall, Walford-on-Wye, Ledbury Park, the Feathers and Talbot Hotels and Church House at Ledbury, Upper Vinesend Farm, Cradley, Park Farm, Colwall, Walsopthorne, Ashperton, Tower House, Bromyard, and Hall Court, Much Marcle; the last is known to have been built in 1608. Hellens, Much Marcle, is a stone Elizabethan building with earlier portions. There are interesting late 17th and early 18th-century houses at Hill Court, Walford-on-Wye, Dingwood Park, Ledbury (Rural), the Vicarage, Much Marcle, dated 1703, and The Brainge, Putley.
Fortified houses and castles have left but few remains, but parts of the gatehouse and outer walls survive at Bronsil Castle, Eastnor, and there are some ruins of a 14th-century structure at Penyard Castle (Ross, Rural).
The bridges recorded in the district are the five over the Lugg at Mordiford, Lugg Mill, Lugwardine, Moreton and Laystone; the two first date probably from the 14th century and the others are of later date. There is also a small mediæval bridge in the parish of Stretton Sugwas.
The condition of both the ecclesiastical and secular monuments is, in general, good; but an exception must be made of a number of small churches which have been suffered to fall into ruin, mostly in the second half of the last century. Two of these, at Edvin Loach and Tedstone Wafer, are of more than ordinary interest as examples of early post-Conquest building, but both are badly overgrown; the N. wall of the former threatens to fall at any moment, and the tympanum of the doorway at Tedstone Wafer has already fallen and now lies on the grass. Wacton church is now an almost featureless ruin, and Little Marcle church has almost disappeared.
Bells: The present area has a fairly large proportion of mediæval bells. The most ancient relic is a small piece, probably of Celtic origin, now in Hereford Museum. It was found about 1860 in a pond adjacent to the Marden churchyard, and is a straight-sided bell of riveted bronze plates of the Celtic type, 15 inches high by 8 inches at the mouth.
Of the 35 mediæval bells which survive in the churches, the earliest appears to be that at Edvin Loach; it is now dismounted and is of the usual long-waisted type of the 13th and early 14th century. There are several others which may be ascribed to the 14th century; one, uninscribed, at Aylton, others at Breinton, Lea and Upper Sapey. The founders of these and many of the other pre-Reformation bells are unknown, but one group of some thirteen can be identified with the Worcester Foundry by the stops in the inscriptions representing the heads of a King and Queen. Most of the bells are probably not earlier than the early years of the 15th century; the majority have the usual simple Latin dedications to the Saints. Of these, seven are to St. Mary, six to St. John, four to St. Michael, three to St. Gabriel, two each to St. Peter and St. Margaret, and one each to SS. Ann, George, Nicholas, Raphael and Thomas, and there is one to 'Jesus of Nazareth.'
Of the later bells the only really established local founder, John Finch, of Hereford, has naturally the largest number. Eighteen can be identified by his mark and date from 1628 (Holmer) to 1658 (Pencombe); they are all fairly near to the city and are of excellent workmanship. Isaac Hadley, a founder who worked for a few years at Leominster, has one bell of 1703 at Sutton St. Nicholas. Most of the others come from foundries outside the county. John Martin, of Worcester, who seems to have been the chief successor to Finch, is represented by twelve, and was followed by the Rudhall family, of Gloucester, which has fourteen earlier than 1714. Other foundries which can be more or less identified are those of John Green, of Worcester, exemplified by a bell of 1625 at Stoke Lacy and one of 1651 at Lugwardine, and the Clibury family, which has seven from 1671 to 1680.
There is evidence in the Holmer Churchwardens' accounts that a bell from that church was recast at Marden in 1621. There is no bell of that date at the church, and it is possible that it had again to be recast by John Finch, who has a bell of 1628 there; but at Harden there are three bells dated 1622 with mis-spelt Latin inscriptions and no founders' marks; these may be the work of an itinerant or possibly that of a craftsman of Marden, who turned his hand to founding. Perhaps he can be identified with Thomas Hancox, who has two bells at Holmer dated 1626, one with a mis-spelt Latin inscription, and the other in English. The Holmer accounts also refer to the payment for bell metal at Leominster in 1611; this perhaps applies to the bell of 1609 in the Tower, but the name of the founder is unknown.
Brasses: The brasses of the district are poor in number and quality. Of the eight at Ledbury, five are inscriptions only, but there is a priest of 1421 and an armed figure of 1490 with a livery collar. A brass at Burghill is of interest as commemorating Robert Masters, 1619, who travelled with Thomas Cavendish to Virginia, and afterwards " aboute the globe of ye whole worlde."
Chairs: Perhaps the best examples of this form of fitting are the two chairs at Ross, one of which is richly carved. The elaborate chair at Ledbury is made up of pieces of differing provenance. Other chairs may be mentioned at Credenhill, Upton Bishop, and Bishop's Frome. All these date from the first half of the 17th century. Three chairs at Bishop's Frome, Fownhope and Hampton Bishop are dated 1623, 1634 and 1642 respectively.
Chests: There are ' dug-out' chests at Lea, Munsley, Whitbourne and Fownhope, perhaps dating from the 13th century, a rather unusual 14th-century chest at Avenbury, and an unusually large example, probably of mediæval date, at Cradley. A chest of early type at Mathon has an inscription and date 1698, and another at Upton Bishop is dated 1703.
Churchyard Crosses: Remains of churchyard crosses are very numerous, but none in this district survive in their original state. Heads carved with figures of the Virgin and Child and the Crucifix may be seen at King's Capel, Tedstone Delamere and Putley; the last-named has two subsidiary figures in addition. A carved Crucifixion at Yarkhill is probably also the head of a cross. There are largely complete, but plain, shafts at Horn Green (Ross, Rural) and Wellington. The cross in Ross churchyard has an inscription recording the visitation of the plague in 1637. Nearly all the bases have the small shallow niche in the west face noted in the first volume.
Coffin-lids: This is a very common form of fitting in the district, and a few examples are of more than ordinary interest. At Ledbury is a late 13th or early 14th-century slab with the name William Chaumberling and a sinking for an inlay at the head. At Brinsop are two with elaborate foliated crosses, one having a wavy stem to the cross; there are equally elaborate examples at Mordiford and Linton. At Woolhope is a curious double slab with two plain crosses and foliage in the angles, and at Bosbury is a slab with three crosses and a sword.
Communion Tables: There are two Elizabethan communion tables, with richly carved bulbous legs, at Bromyard and Breinton. The other tables are of 17th-century date and more ordinary type. Among them may be mentioned the examples at Hampton Bishop, Holmer, Felton, Withington, and Stretton Sugwas.
Fonts: The district contains a number of 12th-century fonts, of which that at Castle Frome is in every way the most remarkable; it is of unusual ogee section, and its decoration consists of elaborate interlacement, the evangelistic emblems and the baptism rendered in the style of the carvings of Kilpeck; the font rests on three prostrate figures. The 12th-century fonts at Bromyard and Thombury may also be mentioned, and at Burghill the cylindrical support of the leaden bowl has an arcade with figures, probably of Christ and the Apostles. At Bishop's Frome is a large early 13th-century bowl of breccia, similar to those recorded at Kilpeck, Madley and elsewhere in the first volume. The later mediæval fonts are of little distinction, but a 13th-century example at How Capel and one of the 15th-century at Walford-on-Wye may be noticed. The lead bowl at Burghill is modern but has applied foliage-ornament of the 13th century. A second lead bowl at Aston Ingham is dated 1689. At Credenhill is a font dated 1667, said to have been formerly at Eaton Bishop, and at How Capel is a simple stone font, now in the churchyard, dated 1698. The extraordinarily crude carved bowl at Felton would appear to date from the same century.
Glass: The finest and most complete example of painted glass in the district is the E. window at Ross, which probably came from the chapel of the Bishops of Hereford at Stretton Sugwas, and was erected by Bishop Thomas Spofford (1422–49); it has figures of St. Ethelbert, St. Anne and the Virgin, St. Joachim and St. Thomas Cantilupe. There are remains of two 13th-century figure-subjects at Ledbury, and some late 15th or early 16th-century heraldry. A figure of St. George and a Majesty at Brinsop, and figures of St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Thomas Cantilupe at Credenhill, may also be noted.
Monuments: Like the rest of Herefordshire, this district is rich in mediæval effigies. Of the thirty surviving examples, one, at Much Marcle, is carved in oak, and five—William Rudhall, 1530, and his wife, at Ross, Sir John Milbourne, c. 1435–40, and his wife, at Burghill, and a lady of c. 1470 at Stoke Edith—are of alabaster. There are three armed figures of the 13th century at Much Cowarne, Bishop's Frome and Sollers Hope, and a late 13th-century priest at Ledbury. The six effigies at Edvin Ralph all seem to belong to the early part of the 14th century. The most remarkable mediæval tombs in the district are, however, those to a lady (probably a Pauncefote) at Ledbury, and to another lady (Blanche Grandison) at Much Marcle; both belong to the second half of the 14th century and are perhaps by the same hand, the trailing of the drapery over the side of the tomb being very distinctive. Another remarkable monument (perhaps for a heart-burial) is the small half-effigy of a man in armour, of c. 1300, at the base of a window-mullion at Castle Frome. The other effigies are of miscellaneous character and include the head and shoulders of a priest recessed in a coffin-lid at Aston Ingham, two figures in relief (one in profile) at Woolhope, and a late 14th-century altar-tomb with effigies of man and wife at Much Marcle. There is a handsome canopied tomb-recess at Weston Beggard.
Of the five incised slabs recorded, one with a 14th-century figure of Matilda Eddefen, at Edvin Ralph, has a remarkable inscription, a second at Avenbury has a 13th-century armed figure, a third at Fownhope, dated 1463, has a cross and chalice, and a fourth at Stretton Sugwas to Richard Grevelkey (1473) has figures under a canopy. The slab to Edward Cooper, 1596, at Ledbury has a figure emphasized in colour and composition. The curious slab at Canon Pyon has a casement apparently once filled with white slip-insertion.
Among the numerous Renaissance monuments, two memorials of the Harford family at Bosbury, dated 1559 and 1578, are probably both by John Guldo, who also carved the tomb at Madley; they are remarkable for a profusion of heterogeneous ornament in somewhat barbarous taste. On a very different level are the two accomplished but anonymous works in alabaster or marble at Ross and Much Marcle to John Rudhall, 1636, and Sir John Kyrle, 1650; both are probably by the same hand and have effigies of a man and wife executed with extreme care and ability. An alabaster monument to William (?) Unett, 1624, at Castle Frome, and a freestone effigy of William Reed, 1634, at Lugwardine, are also remarkable monuments of the same period. Other monuments to Colonel William Rudhall, 1651, at Ross, consisting of a standing figure on a pedestal, and a painted bust to Dr. John Best, 1637, may also be noted. Wall-monuments of a local enriched type are exemplified at Dormington, Fownhope, Walford-on-Wye and Evesbatch. There are three painted wooden tablets at Ullingswick, 1590, Holmer, 1652, and Breinton, 1685. The early 18th-century is represented by an elaborate memorial to the Biddulph family at Ledbury.
Overmantels: A number of enriched overmantels have been preserved in or from the principal houses. The earliest is perhaps the mid to late 16th-century example with heraldry at the Crown Inn, Bosbury. Others of late 16th or early 17th-century date may be mentioned at Ledbury Park and the Talbot Hotel, Ledbury; Hall Court, Much Marcle; Upper Wythall, Walford-on-Wye; Grendon Farm and Westington Court, Grendon Bishop; and New House Farm, Stretton Grandison. At Canon Frome Court is a late 16th-century overmantel with standing figures of Virtues, and at Homme House, Much Marcle, is a mid 17th-century example with an added shield-of-arms.
Paintings: The survival of wall-paintings is very infrequent in E. Herefordshire. Only two more or less complete subjects have been recorded at Brinsop and Stretton Grandison. In the first church the subject is perhaps the Visitation; the figure at Stretton Grandison is not identifiable.
Plate: A considerable number, 18 in all, of Elizabethan cups have been preserved in the district; of these, three date from 1570, seven from 1571, and two from 1572. The finest examples are at Collington and Ledbury. A cup of the time of Charles II, at Aylton, has embossed flowers on the bowl, and at Putley is a secular dish of 1662, with repoussé ornament, given to the church in 1699. At Pipe and Lyde is a remarkable cylindrical case of cuir bouilli with shields, fleurs-de-lis, etc.; it probably dates from early in the 16th century.
Pulpits: Only one mediæval pulpit appears to have been preserved in the district under review; this is a work of the 15th century at Stretton Grandison. Early 17th-century pulpits with their sounding-boards survive at Colwall, King's Capel, Moreton Jeffreys and Stanford Bishop; the best of these are at Colwall and King's Capel. The example, of the same period, at Wellington, which has lost its sounding-board, may also be mentioned.
Screens: The earliest screen recorded is that at Pixley, a structure of unusually heavy timbers dating from the 14th century. There are a number of 15th-century screens of which two retain their lofts; the loft at Burghill is of unusual width (about 6 feet), the front being supported on two posts; this screen has been raised and otherwise altered, but is still a remarkable example. The screen and loft at Bosbury has been more restored, but has a fan-vaulted soffit and a richly carved cornice. Other 15th-century screens may be noted at Avenbury, Brinsop and Withington. Pipe and Lyde has a richly carved rood-beam. At How Capel there is a late 17th-century screen with twisted posts and surmounted by the Royal Arms.
Staircases: Staircases of note are somewhat uncommon in the district. The only one of Jacobean age which is at all remarkable is the example at Barrow Mill, Cradley, with pierced and shaped balusters and tall terminals to the newels. At Bush Farm, Coddington, is a staircase of similar date with wavy balusters. There are handsome late 17th or early 18th-century staircases at Dingwood Park, Ledbury Rural, the Vicarage, Much Marcle, and Hill Court, Walford-on-Wye.
Tiles: An interesting series of 15th-century slip-tiles at Stretton Sugwas seems mostly to have come from Malvern, as many of the designs can be paralleled in the Priory church there. At St. Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury, is a further important collection, some of which may also be of Malvern make. There is an interesting 14th-century figure-subject—a husbandman digging—at Colwall.
Miscellanea: A number of fittings of considerable interest may be grouped together as they are the only examples of their particular types in the district. At Dormington is a bronze knocker-plate in the form of a beast's head, and dating probably from late in the 12th century. At Whitbourne are portions of a late 15th-century cope with embroidered figures of seraphim, eagles, saints, etc. The 17th-century oak lectern at Bosbury is an unusual fitting in the district, and the 15th-century stone reredos at Hampton Bishop is remarkable for the same reason.