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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4 AYMESTREY (C.b.)
Aymestrey is a large parish 6 m. N.W. of Leominster. The church of Aymestrey and the chapel of Leinthall Earls dating from the 12th century, Gatley Park and the camps at Croft Ambrey and Pyon Wood are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist and St. Alkmund stands in the S. part of the parish. The walls are of local limestone rubble with ashlar and dressings of the same material and some tufa; the roofs are covered with slates and lead. The Chancel and Nave were built in the 12th century, the nave being aisleless. About the middle of the 14th century the West Tower was added. About 1400 the chancel was extended to the E., and shortly after the chancel-arch was re-built and widened. In the 16th century, perhaps c. 1540, the arcades were built with the use of earlier material, probably from elsewhere, and the North and South Aisles and clearstorey added. The South Porch was added in the 16th or 17th century, but has been re-built and shortened in modern times. The church was restored in 1884–6.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (29¼ ft. by 17 ft.) has an E. window of c. 1400 and of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label. The side walls retain portions of the tufa quoins of the 12th-century E. wall. In the N. wall is a 12th-century window of tufa and of one round-headed light; further E. is a modern doorway; the top course of the earlier part of the wall is set diagonally. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern of early 14th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights; the restored late 13th-century western window is of two trefoiled lights; between the windows is a blocked round-headed window of the 12th century. The two-centred chancel-arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from moulded imposts; the responds are moulded; the arch is probably of the 15th century.
The Nave (43¼ ft. by 18¼ ft.) has N. and S. arcades (Plate 12) of three bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the square piers have shafted angles, moulded plinths, and capitals and the responds have attached half-piers; the piers are of late 12th-century material, re-used, but the capitals are of 16th-century date; the arches perhaps incorporate earlier material. The clearstorey has on each side three two-light windows of early 14th-century date, re-set; the two eastern on each side have trefoiled lights, and the third on the N. has plain pointed lights, and the third on the S. has a modern external head.
The North Aisle (11¾ ft. wide) has a 15th-century E. window, re-set, and of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. In the E. wall are the lower quoins of the N.E. angle of the original aisleless nave. In the N. wall are three 16th-century windows; they are each of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head.
The South Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has an E. window uniform with that in the N. aisle. In the S. wall are three windows uniform with the N. windows in the N. aisle; the S. doorway, of uncertain date, has chamfered jambs and two-centred arch.
The West Tower (11¾ ft. square) is of four stages with an embattled parapet; it was built about the middle of the 14th century. In the E. wall of the ground stage is a 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head; the 14th-century W. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of three chamfered orders; the stage has a stone barrel-vault with a central round bell-way. The second stage has a square-headed window in the N. and S. walls; in the W. wall is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights in a square head. The third stage has a doorway, leading on to the roof, in the E. wall; the N. and S. walls have each a square-headed window, and in the W. wall there was probably a niche, now covered by the clock-face. The bell chamber has, in each wall, a window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head.
Fittings—Bell-frame: 17th-century, incorporating earlier timbers. Churchyard Cross: W. of church, slender octagonal shaft on base and five steps, 15th-century, head later. Communion Rails: with turned balusters and moulded rails, early 18th-century. Door: In W. doorway—of battens with strap-hinges, probably old, but painted. Floor-slab: In chancel—of [Sir John Lingen, 1506, and Elizabeth (Burgh) his wife, 1522] alabaster slab with incised figures of man in armour and wife in pedimental head-dress, under a four-gabled canopy, shield-of-arms of Russell quartering Lingen, impaling . . . quartering . . ., Croft and . . ., defaced marginal inscription. Font: cylindrical stem, 12th or 13th-century, bowl modern. Piscina: In chancel—recess with ogee head and semi-octagonal projecting bowl, 14th-century. Pulpit (Plate 71): three sides only with three ranges of panels, middle range with enriched arches, upper with conventional ornament and enriched frieze, early 17th-century, incorporating modern work. Screens: Rood-screen (Plate 86) between chancel and nave, with central doorway and three bays on each side, side bays with linen-fold lower panels and open upper panels with trefoiled and sub-cusped heads with carved cusp-points, two similar heads to doorway, enriched middle rail and moulded and shafted posts from which springs the vaulted soffit of the loft; vaulting with moulded ribs and cusped panels with moulded and carved front-cornice finished with cusped soffit arches and pendants below and brattishing above, early 16th-century. Parclose screens (Plate 77) enclosing E. bay of both N. and S. aisles and each screen with a central doorway flanked by four bays on each side; side bays with linen-fold lower panels and open upper panels with cinque-foiled or trefoiled and sub-cusped heads; double heads to doorways; moulded framing, rails enriched with pateræ, etc., and cornice with running vine-ornament and brattishing, early 16th-century. Stoup: In S. jamb of W. doorway of nave—broken round projecting bowl in recess with trefoiled ogee head, 14th-century.
d(2). Chapel of St. Andrew at Leinthall Earls stands 2 m. N.E. of the parish church. The walls are of local limestone rubble, mostly plastered; the dressings are of the same material, and the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. The church, consisting of a continuous Chancel and Nave, was built probably early in the 12th century, but a break in the S. wall of the nave may indicate that it was lengthened towards the W., the W. doorway being re-set. The bell-turret is probably of the 17th century. The church was restored in 1823, and the West Porch is modern.
The Nave (30½ ft. by 19 ft.) has one window in the N. and two in the S. wall, all modern. The 12th-century W. doorway has jambs and distorted round head of two orders, the inner square and the outer moulded; the upper part of the W wall is a 16th-century rebuilding in plastered timber-framing; in it is a three-light square-headed window. The octagonal timber bell-cote has a conical roof.
Fittings—Bell: one, dated 1625. Panelling: forming dado on E. wall of chancel, with fluted frieze, 17th-century. Similar panelling incorporated in E. range of pews. Piscina: In chancel—recess with shouldered head and square drain, probably 13th-century. Pulpit: five sides, four with two ranges of enriched arcaded panels, early 17th-century, made up with modern framing. Reredos: made up with mid 17th-century panelling, partly incised with conventional designs. Seating: nine benches, with shaped bench-ends, 16th or early 17th-century.
c(3). Gatley Park, house and park-enclosure, ½ m. N.E. of the church of Leinthall Earls. The House is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are of brick on a rubble base and the roofs are covered with stone slates and tiles. It was built c. 1630–40, probably by Sir Samson Ewer, on a square plan with a projecting porch on the N.W. The N.E. and S.W. wings are modern additions. The N. W. Front (Plate 34) is in three bays with a projecting porch in the middle; the angles are rusticated, and there are brick bands between the storeys; the side bays are gabled and the two-storeyed porch has a modern stone parapet. The outer doorway has a segmental head and an oak frame with side pilasters and a cornice; above the doorway is a sunk panel with a cartouche-of-arms and the motto "Vincit qui patitur." The windows are modern. The S.E. Front has bands between the storeys and two gables. The side elevations are mostly covered by modern building, but there are remains of blocked windows on the N.E. side. The central chimney-stack has nine octagonal shafts with moulded cappings, of rather earlier character than the rest of the house.
Interior—The porch is lined with mid 17th-century panelling, the original inner doorway has a stop-moulded frame and four-centred arch in a square head with foliated spandrels; the door has large strap-hinges with foliated ends. The hall now extends to the full width of the original block. It has exposed ceiling-beams and early 18th-century panelling; the stone fireplace has moulded jambs and four-centred head; the overmantel is of three bays divided and flanked by pilasters with strapwork ornament; each bay has an enriched arcaded panel; the iron fire-back is dated 1639. The dining-room is lined with early 18th-century panelling; the fireplace has chamfered jambs and four-centred head; the fire-back has the initials and date, S.E. 1634, for Sir Samson Ewer. The staircase (Plate 75) is original except for the lower part; it is of well-form with heavy turned balusters, moulded rails and square chamfered newels with moulded terminals. On the first floor the room over the middle part of the hall has an original overmantel of two panels flanked by pilasters carved with conventional foliage and supporting a moulded cornice; below the base-moulding are two strapwork panels. Above the S.W. end of the hall is a newel-staircase with solid oak treads; it formerly continued to the ground floor, but is probably not in situ and may have been re-used from an earlier building.
In the garden, to the N.E. of the house, is a large oval lead cistern divided into panels by moulded ribs; it has achievements-of-arms of Ewer, and the date 1637 twice repeated. On the cistern is the scratched date 1682.
The Park-pale or enclosure is shown on an early 18th-century painting of the house, and remains of the supporting bank on the S. side can still be traced on either side of the drive at the S. boundary of Lime Kiln Coppice.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and with tile or slate-covered roofs. Most of the buildings have exposed external timber-framing and internal ceiling-beams.
c(4). Oldfield Farm, house in the N.E. angle of the parish, 1¾ m. N.E. of Leinthall Earls church, was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the S.W. end. The upper storey appears to have projected on the S.E. side, but has been under-built. Inside the building are some original moulded ceiling-beams.
d(9). House, 40 yards S. of (8), was refaced in rubble c. 1700. There are plain bands between the storeys; most of the windows are of c. 1700, and have solid frames, mullion and transom. Inside the building the 17th-century staircase has turned balusters and moulded strings and rails.
d(11). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, 170 yards S.E. of Leinthall Earls church, has a thatched roof. The upper storey and the gable project at the S. end on moulded and dentilled bressummers; they rest on the moulded ends of the side beams with curved brackets below.
d(12). Manor Farm, house on the W. side of the road, 320 yards W.S.W. of Leinthall Earls church, was built c. 1600 and has a 17th-century projecting wing on the S. side. The upper storey of the porch, on the N. side, projects on the three free faces on curved brackets. The outer entrance has chamfered posts and a triangular head. The E. gable of the house projects on curved braces. Inside the building is a little original panelling.
b(15). Manor Cottages, range of two tenements at Yatton, about 1 m. N.N.E. of the parish church, were built c. 1600. The upper storey projects at the E. end, and in the S. wall is an original window of four lights with diamond-shaped mullions and a transom.
b(17). Yatton Farm, house, 200 yards N.N.W. of (15), is of two storeys with attics. It is of two dates in the 17th century, the eastern part being the earlier. Inside the building are some original moulded ceiling-beams.
e(22). Mortimer's Cross Farm, house on the S.W. side of the cross-roads, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. There are late 17th-century additions at the ends of the wings. The walls are rough-cast and partly of stone.
b(27). Lye Court Farm, house at Lower Lye, nearly 1¾ m. N.W. of the parish church, is of H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. The timber-framing, in squares, is completely exposed.
b(28). Upper Lye Farm, house at Upper Lye, over 2 m. W. of the parish church. The middle part of the house is one bay of a mediæval structure with crutchtrusses, but the rest of the house was re-built in the 17th century. The N. crutch-truss has a plain collar, and the southern has heavy curved braces to the collar.
a(29). Shirley Farm, house over 2½ m. W. of the parish church, is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the W. end. The S. part of the cross-wing is of late 15th or early 16th-century date, and has close-set framing; the rest of the house is of late 17th and early 18th-century date. The upper storey projects on the W. side and at the S. end of the original building, on brackets.
d(30). Croft Ambrey Camp, occupies the highest end of a ridge 1½ m. N.E. of the church. It is a roughly triangular-shaped work which, including defences, occupies a total area of about 38 acres. It consists of a main enclosure with an internal area of about 8¼ acres, and a subsidiary outer enclosure along its S. side on which, the slope being slight, it was more approachable.
The main enclosure is defended on its S. side by three ramparts and two intermedial ditches, while there is a deep and wide spoil ditch within the enclosure, on the sides of which traces of cross banks, etc., may denote that it was originally used for the storage of water.
The W. end also has three ramparts, but there has been some damage to this part, while the inner spoil ditch here widens and is divided into two terraces; the upper terrace leads up to what would appear to have been possibly an inner entrance to the enclosure proper at the N.W. corner.
The N. and steepest side is defended by two scarps with an intermediate berm which may originally have been a ditch. There is a second and lower berm, but it is doubtful if it is original. From the medial berm, towards its eastern end, two trackways run upwards and enter the camp immediately W. and E. of the main E. entrance; but it seems hardly likely that these are original. West of these tracks the upper scarp has traces of irregular terracing, but the remains are slight and may have been caused by subsequent planting.
There are two entrances (see plan), the first at the E. end where the inner rampart has been extended along the S. side of the opening and a rampart formed on the N. side which projects some 40 yards eastwards beyond that on the S., and is cut through to allow passage of the track—already mentioned—leading down to the berm. This entrance is approached by a sunken way. The other entrance is at the S.W. corner, and has the inner rampart turned inwards on its E. side. The outer enclosure is defended along the S. by two ramparts with a medial ditch, and traces of what may have been an outer ditch; as these ramparts approach the E. end, however, and the slope becomes slightly steeper, they are replaced by two scarps with an intermediate berm; at the W. end of this enclosure traces of a ditch, some scarping and a bank, together with the steep natural slope immediately beyond would appear to have formed the necessary protection. Within this outer enclosure —where shown on plan—are two portions of bank or pillow mounds, respectively about 50 yards by 8 yards, and 20 yards by 7 yards, both approximately 2 ft. high, and surrounded by traces of a slight ditch. There is also a circular mound of about 33 ft. diameter and 3 ft. high.
b(31). Pyon Wood Camp, ¾ m. N. of the church, has an area of about 9 acres including the defences. It is situated on a sugar-loaf shaped hill. The defences consist of two ramparts with a medial ditch and a slight spoil ditch or walk within the inner rampart; they follow the natural contours and encircle the side of the hill at an average depth of about 65 ft. below its summit. The outer rampart is smaller than the inner and has, for the most part, been destroyed, while in no part is it of any appreciable height. The inner bank of the inner rampart has also been destroyed, in some places leaving merely the remaining outer scarp. The only entrance which would appear to be definitely original is that at the N.E. corner (Plate 3) where the inner rampart shows some indications of its having turned inwards on either side of the opening. This entrance is approached by a trackway with a covering rampart on its N. side. There are two other entrances, at the N.W. and S.W. corners, but it is doubtful if these are original.
b(32) Mound (Plan, p. xxix) in Camp Wood, N. of the river Lugg, and over 1¾ m. W. of the church, stands on a small spur. The mound is circular with a diameter of 41 yards at the base and a height of 17 ft.; it has a continuous rampart except on the W. side, and is surrounded, except towards the end of the spur, by a ditch some 10 ft. deep.
b(34). Earthwork, called the Monks' Bowling Green, 375 yards N.N.W. of the church, consists of a square platform or terrace, 46½ yards square, cut into the hiil-side on the W. and banked up about 18 ft. on the E. The surface is nearly level.