An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 3, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1934.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
66 SHOBDON (C.c.)
Shobdon is a parish 7 m. W.N.W. of Leominster. The church with its richly ornamented 12th-century arches, reconstructed in Shobdon Park, and the early 18th-century mansion of Shobdon Court are or were the principal monuments.
(1). Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist stands immediately to the N. of Shobdon Court. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material. Shobdon Church was built by Oliver de Merlemond on the site of a timber chapel of St. Julian; it was dedicated by Robert de Betun, Bishop of Hereford (1131–48). The founder placed here a few canons of St. Victor of Paris, who were subsequently removed to Eye, and eventually to Wigmore Abbey (Dugdale. Mon. Ang. VI). This church apparently consisted of Chancel and Nave only. The West Tower was added probably in the 13th or 14th century. The old church, except the tower, was pulled down in 1753, and the chancel-arch and N. and S. doorways re-erected to form a feature in the park; the existing church was then built in the pseudo-Gothic style of the period.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (11¼ ft. by 13¼ ft.) is of two stages externally and of four storeys internally; it has a battered plinth and an embattled parapet. The ground storey has, in the S. wall, a blocked doorway with a three-centred head. In the W. wall is a doorway and two windows all of mid 18th-century date. In the W. wall of the third storey is a 13th or 14th-century window of two pointed lights. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a 13th or 14th-century window of a single light with a segmental-pointed head.
Fittings—Bells: two; 1st by T. Clibury, 1674; sanctus, uninscribed and probably mediæval; bell-frame for four bells, old. Brass Indent: In churchyard—N.E. of nave, of man in armour with sword and dagger, feet on lion, two shields and marginal inscription, late 14th-century. Chest: In second storey of tower—of oak, panelled front with arabesque ornament with the initials A.S., carved posts and top-rail; plain panelled top, sides and back, mid 17th-century. Font (Plate 54): round bowl and stem of ogee section, bowl plain but stem carved with four passant lions, moulded base, mid 12th-century. Monuments: In tower —on S. walls, (1) to John Handford, 1678, stone tablet of cartouche form, with drapery, slate panel and cartouche-of-arms; (2) to Ann (Tomkins), wife of Robert Chaplin, 1684, also to Mary, daughter of John Peers, 1696, both buried in St. Swithin's church, London, and removed to Shobdon 1697, also to Robert Chaplin, 1704, stone wall-monument (Plate 69) with oval panel, enriched border and scrolled side pilasters, cornice and pediment with urn, three cartouches-of-arms and swags, enriched apron at base of monument. Miscellanea: Retaining walls at entrance to churchyard, with some loose stones of the 14th century.
The re-erected chancel-arch and doorways (Plate 166) stand ¼ m. N. of the church. They are all of c. 1140–50. The chancel-arch, of about 10½ ft. span is semi-circular and of three orders, the inner and outer with cheveronornament and the middle order with a roll flanked by a type of arrow-head ornament; the label is enriched with an arcaded ornament with round bosses at the base of the arches or cusps; the responds have each three shafts elaborately enriched—on E., (a) with rings connected by grotesque heads and enclosing doves; (b) with winged monsters in interlaced vineornament; (c) with rings and grotesque heads as on (a) but with birds and beasts in the rings and interlacements in the spandrels; on W., (a) with scrolled enrichment; (b) with a series of figures of 'Welshmen' in pairs set in interlacement; (c) with scrolls and birds; the capitals of the inner shafts have either gone or been weathered away, but those of the outer shafts are carved with spirals, simple leaves, dragon and interlace and vine-scroll, the abaci are also enriched; the bases are enriched with interlacing ornament. The doorway on the E. is semi-circular and of three orders, the two outer square and the inner roll-moulded; all are carved, the outer with an elaborate scrolled band terminating in a grotesque head at the W. end; the middle order is carved with a series of animals and human figures, some of which, such as a ram, bull, twin figures and two fishes, appear to be Zodiacal signs; an Agnus Dei also appears; the inner order was carved with a series of animals and birds but is now almost entirely weathered away; the outer order of the jambs is enriched with cheveron-ornament, but the other two orders have each an attached shaft carved with interlacing ornament of varying design; the capitals are carved with two beasts, a row of standing figures, scrolls or volutes and a winged dragon respectively; the bases on the E. are moulded, and those on the W. carved with interlacing ornament or leaves. The tympanum (Plate 167), now set over an adjoining opening, is carved with a Majesty in an oval band supported by four angels. The doorway on the W. is generally similar to that just described; the outer order has four conventionalised and intertwined snakes; the middle order has each voussoir carved with a beast; the roll-moulded inner order has interlacing designs; the outer order of the jambs has cheveron-ornament; the others have attached shafts, those on the E. carved with interlacing ornament and those on the W. with figures of 'Welshmen' and bands of interlacement; the capitals are carved with a dragon, three small figures and scrolls. The tympanum (Plate 167), now set over an adjoining arch, is carved with a figure-subject—the Harrowing of Hell, with a figure of Christ in the middle, souls in limbo on the right, and two standing figures on the left. The carving of both the main arch and doorways is much weathered by exposure.
(2). Shobdon Court (Plate 34), house and outbuildings, immediately S. of the church. The House is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are of red brick with stone and cement dressings, and the roofs are slate-covered. It was built early in the 18th century by Sir James Bateman, Lord Mayor of London, and seems to have been finished before 1717, when a plan and account of it were published in Vitruvius Britannicus. About 1861 the house was largely remodelled by the second Lord Bateman, and further alterations were made later in the same century. During this period, small square blocks and a loggia were added in the recessed portion of the N. front, the original eaves-cornices of the house were replaced by the existing cornices and balustrades and the chimney-stacks re-built. Some alterations were made also in the internal arrangements.
The Elevations are symmetrically arranged, but the whole of the facing has been repointed and rusticated heads in cement added to the windows. The plan is rectangular with projecting wings or pavilions at the four angles. All the angles have rusticated quoins. The doorways appear to have been all replaced by modern work, as has the arched terrace on the S. front.
Interior. The plan in Vitruvius Britannicus indicates that the original main entrance was on the E. front; it is now, however, on the N. front. The arrangement and position of the staircases has been entirely altered, and these are now all modern. The main hall, occupying the W. part of the central block, is carried up through two storeys, but the decorations are entirely modern.
The Kitchen Block stands to the S.W. of the house, with which it is connected by an underground corridor. The block is of the same date as the house and is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of brick with modern cement dressings. The Stables, to the W. of the house, are also of the same date, and are built round a courtyard. The walls are of brick with a band between the storeys, but part of the W. wall of the W. range is timber-framed. The building is of two storeys, and the windows have solid frames. Over the E. range is a timber clock-turret of two stages; the upper stage has pilasters at the angles, a square-headed opening in each face, and is finished with an entablature, pediments and a weather-vane. Inside the building are some original door-frames, doors and staircases; these last have turned balusters, moulded strings and hand-rails. The Pigeon-house (Plate 40), S.W. of the stables, is an early 18th-century octagonal structure of brick with a stone plinth and a pyramidal roof terminating in a small timber lantern. Re-set in the garden-wall, running S. from the Stables, is an early 18th-century stone doorway with enriched architrave, entablature and a carved grotesque key-stone; it is fitted with a panelled door with enriched mouldings.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed, and with tile or slate-covered roofs. Many of the buildings have exposed external timber-framing and internal ceiling-beams.
(7). House and barn, 100 yards S.W. of (6), and 1,050 yards S. of the church. The House is perhaps of mediæval origin with a central block and cross-wings at the N.E. and S.W. ends; the existing features, however, are of late 16th or early 17th-century date. The central block and S.W. wing were heightened in the 18th century. Inside the building is an early 18th-century fireplace with a moulded and eared surround and brackets below the cornice.
(17). Ledicot, house, barn and moat, nearly 1 m. E.S.E. of the church. The House is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and N. The walls are of brick with stone dressings. The main or E. wing is of early 18th-century date, and the N. wing was probably added shortly after. The S. front is symmetrically arranged, and has rusticated angles and a slightly projecting central bay finished with a pediment. The central doorway has stone side-pilasters and a moulded semi-circular arch.
(18). Cottage, two tenements, 150 yards E.N.E. of (17), was built probably early in the 16th century. The upper storey originally projected, on curved brackets, at both ends of the building, but has been under-built and chimney-stacks added, probably in the 17th century.
(23). Ox House Farm, house and barn, nearly 1 m. S.E. of the church. The House is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and N. It has been extensively modernised and has a modern addition in the angle of the original wings. The Barn, S. of the farmyard, is weather-boarded.
(24). Mound, 130 yards W. of the church, is round and has a flat top, 148 ft. in diameter and rising 10– 12 ft. above the surrounding ground; it is surrounded by a dry ditch with slight traces of an outer bank and causeway towards the N.E. It was probably a castlemound or tump.