An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 3, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1934.
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48 LETTON (B.e.)
c(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist (Plate 7) stands at the S. end of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with some tufa, and the dressings are of the same materials; the roofs are covered with stone slates. Part of the N. wall of the Nave belongs probably to a late 11th or early 12th-century building and has a rude string-course. About the middle of the 12th century the church appears to have been reconstructed, the nave widened and perhaps lengthened, and the Chancel, about 20 ft. long, added or re-built. Late in the 13th century the chancel was lengthened. The South Transept was added c. 1330 and the North Tower, begun shortly after, was capped by the existing timber-framed top stage probably in the 17th century. At some uncertain period the chancel-arch was removed. The church was restored in 1883, and the South Porch is modern.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (29 ft. by 12¾ ft.) has a late 13th-century E. window of three plain pointed lights in a segmental-pointed head. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern a late 13th-century lancet and the western of late 14th-century date and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a square head; the head has perhaps been re-set. In the S. wall are two lancet-windows, probably of late 13th-century date; the western is rebated inside for a shutter; further W. is a doorway of the same date and with chamfered jambs and two-centred head. There is no chancel-arch, but a seam in the S. wall of the tower may indicate where the former wall has been cut away. The space between the nave and the chancel roofs is filled with vertical timber-framing.
The Nave (37½ ft. by 17¾ ft.) has, in the N. wall, a 14th-century segmental-pointed arch opening into the tower, of one plain chamfered order; further E. is a blocked squint showing as a niche in each face of the wall; the W. part of the wall has an external string-course of tufa, with crude tooth-ornament; lower down, internally, is some herring-bone work. In the S. wall is an opening to the S. transept; it has no arch and no E. respond, the wall at this point being cut back to form a recess; the W. respond is plain except above the high plinth, where it has stop-moulded angles of the 14th-century; further W. is a modern window; the re-set S. doorway (Plate 146) is partly of tufa and partly of sandstone, the sandstone being 12th-century alterations to the earlier doorway; the round arch is of one moulded order with a diapered label; the moulding is continued across the lintel and down the jambs in a rough cheveron form, with flat capitals and bases on the inserted stones; the inserted lintel has conventional patterns in the form of chip-carving; two circles in this carving have small rayed human heads and two others toad-like forms; the lintel supports a built tympanum. In the W. wall is a 12th-century doorway with square jambs, modern lintel and an earlier re-set round arch of tufa above; the late 13th-century W. window is of two trefoiled lights.
The North Tower (about 12 ft. square) is of three storeys, the masonry portion being undivided externally. The ground-stage has, in the E. and N. walls, a 14th-century window of one trefoiled light. The second storey has a plain loop-light in the E., W. and N. walls. The lower part of the bell-chamber is of stone and has a single-light window with a comparatively modern head; the windows were perhaps not completed when the stage was first built; the upper part of the bell-chamber is timber-framed and perhaps of the 17th century; it has plain boarding and a pyramidal roof.
The South Transept (17 ft. by 14½ ft.) has, in the E. wall, a modern window. In the S. wall is an early 14th-century window, formerly of two trefoiled ogee lights, but now with the mullion and part of the head removed to form a single light. In the W. wall is an early 14th-century window of a single trefoiled light; further N. is a doorway with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed arch, perhaps of 14th-century material re-set; it is set in a modern recess on the W. face of the wall.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st inscribed in Lombardic capitals, "Sancta Maria Madalena," by R. Hendly of Gloucester, early 15th-century; 3rd from the Worcester foundry and inscribed in Lombardic capitals "Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum," late 14th or early 15th-century. Brasses: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Joane (Parker), wife successively of Thomas Dowsing and Edward Chamberlain, rector of Letton, 1697–8, inscription only; (2) to Edward Chamberlain M.A., rector, 1712, inscription only. Chairs: In chancel— two with turned front legs, shaped arms and panelled backs, 17th-century. Coffin-lids: In tower—in sill of E. window, (1) fragment with raised foliage, etc., 13th-century; in sill of N. window, (2) semi-octagonal head of slab with raised cross, 13th-century; (3) slab with remains of cross and French inscription in Lombardic capitals to Ro . . ., late 13th-century. In S. transept—in sill of W. window, (4) slab with remains of raised cross with flower and other ornament, 13th-century. Communion Table (Plate 50): with turned and bulbous front legs enriched with carving, turned back legs, moulded and partly enriched lower rails, moulded pulvinated and carved upper rails and moulded top, late 16th or early 17th-century. Doors: In nave—in S. doorway, ledged and battened door with two strap-hinges and an ornamental strap, all nail-studded, hinges both with curved arms and scrolls to strap, late 12th or early 13th-century. In S. transept—in W. doorway, of battens with strap-hinges, iron handle and round scutcheon-plate, 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl, with moulded and splayed under side, octagonal to square stem and plain round base, probably 13th-century. Monuments: In S. transept—in S. wall, (1) two tomb-recesses side by side and retaining the moulded central division and W. jamb, arches and other stonework removed, 14th-century. In churchyard— S. of nave, flat slabs, (2) to Joan . . . 168.; (3) to Elizabeth, second wife of Walter P . . ., 1695. Piscinæ: In chancel—recess with pointed head and round drain, 13th-century; further E., recess of tufa with pointed head, no drain, perhaps the later piscina. In S. transept—in E. wall, recess with trefoiled ogee head and ball-flower ornament, round projecting drain, broken away, early 14th-century. Pulpit (Plate 147): octagonal, each face with a panel carved with a festoon of foliage, fruit and flowers, enriched base-moulding and enriched entablature with carved pulvinated frieze; sounding-board with panelled soffit and star-ornament, entablature with enriched pilasters at the angles and a carved swag on each face of the frieze, carved cresting on W. side only; sounding-board resting on panelled standard with conventional carving in the upper panels; probably early 18th-century, and said to have come from a church in Bristol. Recesses: In chancel —in N. wall, wide recess (Plate 79) with moulded jambs and segmental arch with cinque-foiled and sub-cusped soffit and restored foliated cusp-points, late 13th or early 14th-century, probably tomb-recess. In S. transept—in E. wall, altar-recess with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed arch with ball-flower ornament, early 14th-century. Seating: In chancel— five benches with panelled backs and shaped arms, also a priest's stall of similar character and a side-enclosure with pierced and carved upper panels, also front enclosure incorporating two sides of the pulpit, 17th and early 18th-century. In S. porch—one bench uniform with those in the chancel. Miscellanea: In chancel— stone mortar.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, of two storeys, timber-framed and with tile, stone or slate-covered roofs. Most of the buildings have exposed external timber-framing and internal ceiling-beams.
c(2). House, now gardener's cottage, and said to have been the Old Rectory, on the W. side of the churchyard, was built at the end of the 16th century. It has a gabled two-storeyed porch on the E. side, with moulded posts to the square-headed outer entrance and turned balusters, partly old in the N. side; the upper storey projects on the three free sides and has pendant posts at the outer angles. The inner doorway has an original battened door with ornamental strap-hinges and an oak bolt. The E. front has two gabled dormers and the W. side a central gable.
c(3). Bull Farm, house, about 150 yards N. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and N. The E. wing was extended at a later date and subsequently heightened. The front has been refaced in brick.
a(8). Kinley Farm, house, 50 yards E. of (7), is of three bays of timber-framing. The upper storey formerly projected on the S. side on shaped brackets, but, except for one bay, it has been under-built.
b(13). Hurstley Court, house and outbuildings, 130 yards N.N.W. of (12). The House was originally of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N.W. end. There are later additions on the N.W. side of the cross-wing and on the S.W. of the other wing; this last is of stone and may date from 1703, the date on a fireplace formerly in the addition. The walls generally have been rough cast.
The Barn, N.W. of the house, is of five bays weather-boarded. Adjoining its N. end is a two-storeyed building, of three bays and at right-angles to these is a cow-house and loft with a rubble and brick lower storey.