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
The Parish Church of St Barnabas, Brampton Bryan
The church is of interest from its date and for its
hammer-beam roof, and among the fittings the effigy is
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.
Brampton Bryan Castle
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
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
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
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.