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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2 ALMELEY (B.d.)
Almeley is a parish 4 m. S.E. of Kington. The church with its painted ceiling over the rood-loft, the Friends' Meeting House, the two earthworks of Almeley Castle and Oldcastle Twt, the Manor House and Summer House are the principal monuments.
c(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plates 6, 84) stands in the middle of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material; the roofs are covered with stone slates. The N. and S. doorways incorporate re-used 12th-century voussoirs. The lower part of the Tower was built c. 1200. The Chancel and North Vestry were re-built at the end of the 13th century, and the Nave, North and South Aisles and South Porch were re-built c. 1320–30. The church was restored about 1865, and the tower in 1903.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (35¾ ft. by 18¾ ft.) is of the end of the 13th century, and has a largely restored E. window of four trefoiled lights with geometrical tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall is a late 13th or early 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights; further E. is a doorway with chamfered jambs and square shouldered head. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern similar to that in the N. wall and the western of late 13th-century date, and of two trefoiled lights with soffit cusping; between them is a doorway with double-chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and re-set moulded label. The early 14th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two moulded orders with a moulded label, head-stops and a male bust at the apex; the chamfered responds have each a moulded capital resting on a bust-corbel and supporting the inner order.
The North Vestry has in the E. wall a square-headed two-light window, with a shouldered rear-arch. In the N. wall is a modern doorway; higher up in the wall is a late 13th-century window of two pointed lights.
The Nave (54¼ ft. by 22¼ ft.) is of c. 1320–30, and has N. and S. arcades of four bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, springing from octagonal columns and semi-octagonal responds, all with moulded capitals and bases; E. of the E. respond is the rood-loft staircase with a lower doorway in the N. aisle having a flat foiled head and an upper doorway with a segmental-pointed head. The clearstorey has, on each side, three windows, two of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, and the middle one of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; they are set above the piers of the arcades.
The North Aisle (9¾ ft. wide) is of c. 1320–30, and has an E. window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. In the N. wall are three windows, the easternmost of four trefoiled ogee lights with net-tracery in a two-centred head, carried up into an external gable; the partly restored middle window is of two trefoiled ogee lights with a trefoil above; the westernmost window is of two trefoiled ogee lights; the N. doorway has chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed head; four voussoirs of the rear-arch have a simple saltire decoration, and are probably of the 12th century, re-used. In the W. wall is a window similar to the middle window in the N. wall.
The South Aisle (9½ ft. wide) is of c. 1320–30, and has an E. window similar to that in the N. aisle. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost is uniform with the corresponding window in the N. aisle; the other two windows are similar to the westernmost window in the N. aisle, but the first of these has an external shouldered lintel; the S. doorway has chamfered jambs and two-centred head; the shouldered rear-arch has saltire-decoration on the re-used 12th-century voussoirs. In the W. wall is a late 13th-century window, probably re-set and of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil above; the moulded rear-arch springs from moulded corbels.
The West Tower (12¾ ft. square) is of three storeys with a modern embattled parapet. The two lower storeys, forming one external stage, are of c. 1200, but the top storey was added probably in the 14th century. The two-centred tower-arch is of one square order with remains of a chamfered impost on the S. side; the N., S. and W. walls have each a plain square-headed light, altered in modern times. The second storey has in the E. wall a blocked opening with a segmental-pointed head; the other three walls have each a looplight. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a completely restored window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. Four heavy timber posts in the corners of the tower are carried up to support the bell-cage.
The Roof of the chancel is of trussed collar-beam type with curved braces, and is probably of 14th-century date; it has been slightly lowered from the level of the original roof, the weathering of which remains on the W. wall. The roof of the vestry is of c. 1300, and of two bays with three collar-beam trusses, curved braces and cusped wind-braces. The early 16th-century roof of the nave (Plate 11) is of seven bays with scissor-trusses and curved braces; one truss has a tie-beam. The two E. bays have a boarded ceiling (Plate 83) painted in yellow, blue, black and red to imitate square moulded panels with bosses at the intersections, and a Tudor rose in the middle of each panel. The roof of the tower has three simple king-post trusses.
Fittings—Churchyard-Cross: S.E. of chancel—square base with lower part of octagonal shaft, mediæval; finished with 17th-century turned oak terminal. Coffin-lids: In N. aisle—re-used in sill of middle N. window, slab with round cusped cross-head; in sill of W. window, slab with cross-head formed of intersecting circles, late 13th-century. In S. aisle—in sill of S.E. window, slab with head of cross in circle, late 13th-century. Communion Table: In tower—with turned legs and plain rails, early 18th-century. Doors: In N. doorway—battened door in two leaves, perhaps 17th-century. In S. doorway—of nail-studded battens with trellis-framing and strap-hinges, old round scutcheon-plate and wooden lock, perhaps 14th-century. In screen under tower-arch—panelled door with moulded vertical ribs and enriched top-rail, early 17th-century. Floor-slabs: In nave—(1) to Thomas Harrison, 1675; (2) to Charles Hyett, 1698–9; (3) to Mary, wife of Thomas Rowdon, 1698. Panelling: In nave—incorporated in front row of modern pews, late 16th or early 17th-century panelling (Plate 49) with rosettes, dolphins, monsters, arabesques and other enrichments, from former gallery. Piscinæ: In chancel —recess with ogee head, sill cut back, c. 1300. In S. aisle—on slab-sill of S.E. window, quatre-foiled drain, 14th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1613. Recess: In chancel—in N. wall (Plate 78), with moulded jambs and cinque-foiled sub-cusped and round arch, moulded ogee and crocketted label, 14th-century, tomb-recess or easter sepulchre, squint from vestry in back wall. Sedilia: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down to form stepped seats and splays corbelled back. Screen: Under tower-arch—made up of early 17th-century woodwork perhaps from former gallery and incorporating turned and flat-shaped balusters, moulded framing, etc. Sundial: On second buttress of S. wall of chancel—re-set on W. side, part of incised dial, mediæval.
a(2). Friends' Meeting House (Plate 31), on the W. side of the road, 1,000 yards N. of the church, is of one storey, timber-framed and with tiled roofs. It was built by Roger Prichard (died 1679) as a Meeting House, probably in 1672, and was given by him to the Society in 1675 (deed of gift at Leominster). It is a simple rectangular building with exposed timber-framing in squares. On the N.W. side is a timber porch, and the inner doorway has an original chamfered frame with a shaped board in the head; the battened door has strap-hinges with ornamental ends. Inside the building there is a gallery at the N.E. end supported on cased wall-posts and a chamfered longitudinal beam. The staircase has a square newel with a shaped finial, moulded handrail and flat slat balusters.
c(3). Almeley Castle (Plan, p. xxviii), mount and bailey earthwork, S.W. of the churchyard, consists of a roughly circular motte with a four-sided bailey on the N. The motte is about 36 ft. in diameter at the top, and rises some 21 ft. above the bottom of the surrounding dry ditch. There are remains of a ditch on the E. and N. sides of the bailey, and 20 yards S. of the motte are two rectangular sinkings for fish-ponds.
c(4). Oldcastle Twt or Batch Twt, mount and bailey earthwork, 730 yards N.W. of the church, occupies the end of a spur with a steep slope on the E., W. and S. The motte is roughly circular, 29 ft. in diameter at the top and rises some 18 ft. above the bottom of the slight ditch between it and the bailey. The motte has otherwise been much altered by modern pathways. The bailey to the N. is roughly rectangular and appears to have had a ditch cut across the base of the spur at the N. end with a rampart on the side towards the bailey.
c(5). Manor House (Plate 20), 150 yards W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed; the roofs are covered with stone slates. The house is of mediæval origin, and to it were added, c. 1500, the E. wing and the porch. The W. end was much altered in the 17th century. The S. front has exposed timber-framing, that of the porch and the E. wing being close-set. The porch (Plate 43) is of two storeys, and the outer entrance has a moulded lintel with billet-ornament; the gable projects on curved brackets and has herringbone framing, as has the gable of the E. wing. Inside the building, the room in the E. wing has moulded ceiling-beams, of c. 1500, forming sixteen panels; the fireplace has moulded stone jambs and a cambered oak lintel similarly moulded. There is a little 17th-century panelling. The rest of the house has some exposed ceiling-beams, including a moulded beam of c. 1500 in the middle room. In the W. room are some shaped wall-posts. On the first-floor is a blocked doorway of c. 1500 with a flat pointed head. There are also two re-set carved head-stops and a small ogee-headed lamp-niche.
a(6). Summer House (Plate 36), at Almeley Wootton, 1,100 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are timber-framed and the roofs are tiled. The S.W. part of the house formed a mediæval building with a central hall open to the roof and probably cross-wings at the S.W. and N.E. ends. In the first half of the 17th century the N.E. wing was largely re-built, additions made on its N.E. and N.W. sides, and the hall divided into two storeys; late in the same century a further addition was made on the N.W. of the original hall. Some refacing in brick has been done in modern times and the porch added. The S.E. front has no ancient features, but the back has exposed timber-framing and three gables. The two early 17th-century gables project on moulded bressummers above which is a range of framing with ornamental braces. Inside the building, several rooms have exposed ceiling-beams. The central room to the N.E. has 17th-century moulded ceiling-beams and a panelled cupboard with guilloche ornament and the initials R.P. (Roger Prichard, died 1679). The 17th-century N.E. staircase has square moulded newels with shaped tops, moulded strings and hand-rail and slatbalusters. The original hall has a shaped bracket supporting a beam of the inserted floor; the early 17th-century staircase has square newels with ballterminals, and flat-shaped balusters. In the staircase-hall part of the blade of an original crutch-truss is visible. The late 17th-century N.W. room is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of c. 1700 with moulded cornice, dado-rail and skirting; the fireplace has a moulded surround and cornice, and a cupboard has doors with ornamental panels. On the first floor, one bedroom has a 17th-century shaped bracket to the ceiling-beam, and another bedroom has an early 18th-century fireplace with panelled surround and moulded shelf. The roof of the original hall had crutch-trusses with ties; one truss has a trefoiled opening above the tie, and some cusped wind-braces remain.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and with tiled or slate-covered roofs. Most of the buildings have exposed external timber-framing and internal ceiling-beams.
a(10). Lower Wootton Farm, house, two tenements, on the N.E. side of the road, 1,460 yards N.N.W. of the church, consists of an L-shaped block at the S.W. end dating from c. 1600, and a large addition, made to the N.E. late in the same century. This addition was subsequently heightened. The S.E. end of the original block is gabled and the upper storey projects on shaped brackets; the window below is original and of five lights with moulded frame, mullions and transom.
b(16). House and barn, on the N. side of Hopley's Green, 1,600 yards N.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys with cellars and attics; it has been largely refaced in brick. The Barn, W. of the house, is weather-boarded.
b(19). Upper Stocks (Plate 30), house, about 1 m. N.E. of the church, is probably of late mediæval origin with N. and S. cross-wings. About 1600 the middle block was re-built and a staircase added at the back. The S. cross-wing has been reduced in height and largely re-built. Part of the middle block and the staircase-wing have close-set timber-framing. Inside the building the N. wing retains a central roof-truss with diagonal braces probably of the 17th century. The staircase has square newels with shaped tops and slat-balusters. There is a 17th-century barn, partly weather-boarded.
d(35). House, on the N. side of Logaston Common, 1,600 yards E.S.E. of the church, is of irregular plan and probably of at least two dates. It has been partly refronted in modern brick. On the S. front is a doorway with a cut and shaped board in the head.
c(42). Castle Frome, house, 230 yards S. of the church, is of mediæval origin, the E. part, now a barn, being the former hall with a cross-wing at the W. end. The date of the hall is uncertain, but two crutch-trusses in the western part appear to be earlier than the truss further E. which may form part of a 14th or 15th-century extension. This truss is also of crutch-form, but has a tie with curved braces below and remains of cusped struts above.
c(45). Lower Upcott, house and outbuildings, 170 yards S.W. of (44). The House was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and S.W. The N.W. wing was extended in the 17th and 18th century. The upper storey of the S.W. wing projects on a moulded bressummer; the angle post on the first floor level has a weathered attached shaft. The Out-buildings include a barn W. of the house, a smaller barn S. of the house, and a two-storeyed building N.E. of the house, all probably of the 17th century.