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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7 BRAMPTON BRYAN (B.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)II. S.W., (b)VI, N.W.)
Brampton Bryan is a parish on the N.W. border of the county, 12 m. N.W. of Leominster. The church, largely of the 17th century, and the ruins of the 14th-century castle are the principal monuments.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Barnabas (Plate 15) stands at the N. end of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material; the roofs are tiled. An arch in the W. wall, and perhaps part of the S. wall of the existing building, are of 14th-century or earlier date, but the mediæval church was largely destroyed during the siege of Brampton Bryan Castle by the Royalists in 1643. The existing Church forming a single rectangular apartment with the North Vestry was built in 1656 by Sir Robert Harley. The building was restored in the 19th century, when the windows were all renewed and the West Vestry and South Porch added.
The church is of interest from its date and for its hammer-beam roof, and among the fittings the effigy is noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Church (53 ft. by 36¾ ft.) is entirely of mid 17th-century date except for portions of the S. and W. walls. The E. window is modern but replaced a wide 17th-century window, of which a small portion of the moulded label remains on each side. The N. wall has three modern windows and a modern doorway. In the S. wall are three modern windows; the S. doorway has 14th-century moulded jambs, but the head is modern. Above the W. end of the S. wall is a modern bell-turret. In the W. wall is a modern window and doorway; further S., and set in a thicker wall, is a plain two-centred relieving arch of rubble, probably of the 14th century or earlier date, but now blocked and only visible externally.
The North Vestry has, in the E. wall, a 17th-century window of one square-headed light with a moulded label. In the N. wall is a doorway, of the same date, with moulded jambs and flat four-centred head. The original doorway in the S. wall is blocked.
The Roof (Plate 89) is of mid 17th-century date, and of five bays with double hammer-beam trusses; the trusses rest on heavy wall-posts set against the side walls, standing on the ground and having moulded bases and capitals with scrolled brackets; the lower hammer-beams are moulded and the side-posts terminate in pendants carved with grapes; the upper hammer-beams, braces and side-posts are plain, and the posts have shaped pendants; the lower braces are plain, and those on the N. side are carved on the soffit with a series of small round bosses; the wall-plates are moulded and enriched; the roof has modern boarding under the rafters and collar-beams.
Fittings—Monument: Recess built out from S. wall containing effigy; plain plastered recess of uncertain date; freestone effigy (Plate 63) of woman in sideless cote-hardie and holding heart, head on two cushions, dog at feet, arms missing and figure otherwise mutilated, second half of the 14th century. Tiles: in recess of monument, 14th and 15th-century slip-tiles with geometrical patterns, foliage, a stag and shields-of-arms of Clare, Paynes (?), and ten crosses. Miscellanea: On middle buttress of E. wall—re-used stone with incised circle, for sundial or consecration-cross.
a(2). Brampton Bryan Castle (Plate 90), 50 yards N. of the church, is a structure of local sandstone rubble and ashlar with dressings of the same material. Bryan de Brampton had a tower here in 1295 (Inq. Post. Mort. iii, 189). The property passed to Robert Harley by right of his wife Margaret de Brampton in 1309, and about this time the existing castle was begun. To this period belong the remains of the great hall and the inner part of the gatehouse which appears to have projected inwards from the curtain wall. The outer part of the gatehouse was added very shortly afterwards. Extensive alterations seem to have been made to the building in the 16th century, when the projecting bay on the S. side of the hall was added, and the N.E. wing of the modern house incorporates work of this date. In 1643, and again in 1644, the castle was besieged by the Royalists, being taken on the second occasion and subsequently ruined. Buck's view of 1731 shows little more standing than at present survives. The ruins have been repaired in recent years.
The ruins are of interest as an example of a 14th-century gatehouse.
The outer portion of the Gatehouse is flanked by round towers with an entrance between them; the entrance has two two-centred and moulded arches between which is a portcullis groove; at a higher level is a moulded two-centred wall-arch, and below it is a moulded string enriched with ball-flower ornament. The flanking towers are of two storeys; that on the E. is of irregular polygonal form internally, and is entered by a doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head; at the ground-floor level there is a fireplace and, to the N. of the entrance, a garde-robe; the upper floor has windows of one cinque-foiled light, with seats in the embrasures; this floor communicates, without an intervening wall, with the portcullis-room over the entrance; there is a garde-robe above that on the floor below. The W. tower is round internally, and is entered by a doorway with an ogee head; in the middle of the ground floor is a well, now filled in, and on the external face of the wall, towards the S.W., is an opening roofed with a series of arches stepped downwards in the direction of the well; the opening is blocked at its lower end; the upper floor has two cinquefoil-headed windows, one enriched with ball-flower ornament and having a moulded label. The inner or N. wall of the portcullis-room is carried on a segmental arch over the entrance-passage, and has a fireplace with an elliptical head; the chimney-stack above is of the 16th century, octagonal, and with a moulded and embattled capping. In the W. wall of the entrance-passage is a staircase leading to the upper floor of the W. tower and above it is, on each side, another stair leading up to the top of the towers. This part of the castle butts against the remains of a thick wall of slightly earlier date running E. and W.; it was probably the main curtain wall. It is pierced by an outer segmental arch of one, and by an inner arch of two, moulded orders, the inner order having ball-flower ornament; between the arches is a portcullis-groove carried up in an arched recess at the first-floor level, which is now blocked. The passage-way of the inner gatehouse is flanked by plain walling, and has a plain segmental-pointed arch at the northern exit. This arch is continued as a wall E. and W. of the gatehouse, terminating, on the W., in the shell of a 16th-century stair-turret and having, in the E. part, a 14th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch, perhaps giving access to a former staircase. The upper storey of the inner gatehouse has, in the N. wall, a 14th-century fireplace with a square projecting head and pyramidal hood; it is flanked by window-embrasures with seats; the single-light windows have shouldered heads. In the S. wall are the inner jambs of two doorways leading to the two upper staircases of the outer gatehouse. At the second-floor level, the N. wall has a 14th-century window of one trefoiled light, with window-seats. Re-set in the W. end of the same wall is a 13th-century foliated capital.
The Hall-Block lies some 32 ft. N. of the gatehouse, and now consists only of part of the 14th-century S. wall with an added 16th-century staircase-bay on the S. covering the original doorway of the hall. This doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head. To the E. and W. of the doorway, at a higher level, are 14th-century single-light windows with shouldered heads, lighting the former basement; above the E. window is a similar window, with window-seats in the embrasure; there are remains of other windows to the E. Above the doorway is an inserted 16th-century fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head, and further E. is a short length of wall-passage with a flat corbelled roof. The 16th-century staircase-wing and porch is ashlar-faced, and has square headed mullioned and transomed windows with moulded labels; the doorway, in the E. wall, has moulded jambs and four-centred head; the former steps leading up to the Hall doorway have been destroyed.
The Castle stood upon a mound about 9 ft. high, but its original form is lost owing to levelling and alterations for the gardens of the existing house. Between the gatehouse and the hall is a deep modern cutting. Nothing is now apparent of the original lay-out of the castle, beyond what is indicated by the surviving remains; the site has, however, a scarp along the N. face of about 10 ft. drop towards the stream on that side.
Condition—Ruined, but well preserved.
a(3). Cottage, two tenements, 50 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and with a thatched roof. It was built in the 17th century, and has exposed external and internal framing.
a(4). Cottage, two tenements, 100 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed, and with a thatched roof. It was built early in the 17th century, and has some exposed timber-framing and ceiling-beams. The upper storey projects on the W. side on moulded brackets.
a(5). Cottage, three tenements, 150 yards S.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed, and with thatched roofs. It was built in the 17th century, and has some exposed framing and ceiling-beams.
b(6). Mound, at Lower Pedwardine, 1¼ m. S. of the church, is roughly circular and about 85 ft. in diameter at the base. On the S. side an outer rampart forms a small ditch. The mound rises 4½ ft. above the ditch, and about 11 ft. above the surrounding ground on the other side.
Condition—Bad, and probably altered.
b(7). Mound, at Upper Pedwardine, 500 yards N.W. of (6), has been about half cut away by the erection of a farm building. It appears to have been roughly circular, with a diameter of 36 yards at the base. It stands on a slope and rises about 8 ft. above the ground on the higher side.