An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 1, South west. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1931.
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38 KILPECK (C.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XLIV, S.E., (b)XLV, N.W., (c)XLV, S.W.)
Kilpeck is a parish 8 m. S.W. of Hereford. The church and Castle are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary and St. David (Plate 168) stands E. of the Castle. The walls are of rubble with ashlar dressings all of local sandstone; the roofs are covered with stone slates.
The N.E. angle of the Nave is of late pre-Conquest date, but the rest of the church, consisting of Apse, Chancel and nave was re-built about the third quarter of the 12th century. The building was restored in 1864 when the apse was refaced, the bell-cote re-built, and a former S. porch removed; the roofs were repaired or re-covered in 1898.
The church is a particularly rich example of late Romanesque work; the figures on the chancel-arch and the S. doorway are very remarkable, and these, together with the unusual and somewhat Scandinavian character of the rest of the ornament render the building one of the most interesting in the country. The pre-Conquest fragment at the N.E. angle of the nave is one of the few surviving fragments of that period in the county. Among the fittings the font, the 12th-century stoup and the 17th-century gallery are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Apse (12½ ft. by 13¾ ft.) is semi-circular (Plate 167) with a narrow rectangular bay to the W.; the round part is divided into three bays by external pilaster-buttresses and by internal vaulting-shafts or pilasters; each bay contains a window with flat roll-moulded jambs and round head and moulded bases, partly re-cut or restored; the wide splays have each an attached shaft with a scalloped capital, moulded abacus continued along the wall and a moulded base; the rear-arches have cheveron-ornament; below the external sills is a restored moulded string-course, continued round the buttresses. The vault is plastered and of barrel-form over the rectangular bay and semi-domical over the apse; the broad ribs have double cheveron-ornament and terminate at the intersection in four large grotesque beast-faces; the ribs spring from pilasters, against the walls, each with two attached shafts and with capitals of scalloped or cushion-form continued across the pilasters, moulded abaci and moulded bases to the shafts with small spurs or straps at the angles. The external wall-face is a modern restoration, but the eaves have a heavily projecting and chamfered corbel-table with plain zig-zag ornament and a series of corbels carved as follows, starting from the N. side—(a) beak-headed figure biting a second head; (b and c) grotesque heads; (d) dancing or leaping figure in short kilt; (e) pig's head; (f) two grotesque human figures embracing; (g) grotesque figure playing rebeck with bow; (h) beast-head; (i) ram's head; (j) grotesque beast-head; (k) bearded human head; (l) Agnus Dei; (m and n) grotesque heads; (o) two grotesque birds biting snake; (p) as (a); (q) grotesque head; (r) dog and rabbit; (s) bull's head; (t) bearded human head; (u) muzzled bear's (?) head and two small heads; (v) grotesque beast-head; (w) erotic female figure. The arch opening into the apse is semi-circular and of two plain orders with moulded imposts, continued round from the abaci in the apse, and chamfered plinths; there are cuttings in the outer order, on the W. face of the responds, for a former beam or screen.
The Chancel (14 ft. by 17 ft.) has in the N. wall a 13th-century window of one trefoiled light; the splays and rear-arch are probably of the 12th century; further W. is the W. jamb and part of the round head of a doorway of uncertain date, and apparently cut through the rubble walling as the stones of the head are laid horizontally; the wall has a 12th-century moulded corbel-table, enriched with zig-zag, pellet and cable-ornament; the corbels are carved with grotesque heads except the easternmost which is carved with a seated monkey (?). In the S. wall is a 14th-century window of a single trefoiled light with a moulded label and grotesque head-stops; the splays are probably of the same date, but the rear-arch has re-used 12th-century stones; further E. is a mid 13th-century doorway with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label; the main member of the jambs has a moulded 'hold-water' base on each side. The corbel-table is similar to that of the N. wall and has corbels carved as follows, from E. to W.— (a, e and g) grotesque beast-heads; (b and c) destroyed; (d) damaged, seated beast playing instrument; (f) rosette; (h) destroyed. The 12th-century chancel arch (Plates 166, 170) is semi-circular and of two moulded orders on the W. face; the outer order is enriched with cheveron-ornament, and the inner order with lozenges and pellets; the broad label has also cheveron-ornament; the responds are each of two orders, the inner plain and the outer with a broad shaft carved into three draped and nimbed apostles; the figures all hold books in their left hands and are as follows—N. shaft, (a) with right hand raised and holding cross, mantle clasped on right shoulder; (b) St. Peter, with large key in right hand; (c) with scourge in right hand; S. shaft, (a) with small cross in right hand; (b) similar to (a) but with cross broken; (c) with scourge or palm in right hand; the capital of the N. shaft is carved with enriched conventional vine-ornament and has a cable-necking; the capital of the S. shaft is scalloped with a cabled and pelleted necking and a band of scrolled forms above the necking; the partly defaced bases were perhaps of 'hold-water' type and have spur-ornaments; the feet of the lowest pair of figures appear below the top member of the bases; the abaci are enriched with half-round sinkings, mostly filled with small triple leaves, and are continued round the responds and along the E. and W. faces of the wall; the E. face of the arch is of two plain orders.
The Nave (31¼ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has at the N.E. angle (Plate 3) a fragment of the pre-Conquest church; the wall has a different alignment to that of the later building and batters or leans considerably towards the S.; the angle has large stone quoins extending to within a foot or two of the existing eaves. In the 12th-century part of the N. wall are two windows; the eastern is of a single light with a curved head of late date; the western window is a single round-headed 12th-century light with chamfered external jambs; the wall has a corbel-table similar to those of the chancel, the corbels being carved as follows—(a and b) human head; (c) falcon; (d) muzzled beast-head; (e) grotesque beast-head; (f) running hart; (g) grotesque beast-head, with second head in mouth; (h) interlaced foliage; (i) beast-head; (j) variation of (g); (k) two fishes; (l) human head; (m) beast- (horse ?) head; (n) bird; (o) hart; (p) human head; (q) serpent (?); (r) interlaced ornament with pellets. The flat pilasterbuttresses are finished at the top with chamfered projecting blocks, enriched with zig-zag ornament, except the buttress at the N.W. angle where the block is carved with scrolled foliage ornament; projecting W. from this stone is the head of a grotesque monster, carved in the round and having wide open jaws and a scrolled tongue; this feature is repeated at the S.E. and S.W. angles of the nave and in the middle of the W. wall. In the S. wall is a window similar to the western window in the N. wall; at the W. end of the wall, above the gallery is a recess, probably indicating a former window, inserted to light the gallery and now blocked; the 12th-century S. doorway (Plates 9, 169, 170) has a round head of two moulded orders, the outer enriched also with cheveronornament and a series of carvings as follows, from left—(a) beak-head; (b) dragon; (c) human-headed lion; (d) head with the heads and necks of two beasts protruding from jaws; (e) beak-head; (f) variation of (d); (g) probably a phœnix with conventionalised flames and nest represented by interlace; (h) angel with palm; (i) head with two sprigs issuing from mouth; (j) beak-head of muzzled bear (?); (k) five conventional dragons swallowing each other; (l) dragon biting tail; (m) dragon's head in profile; (n) beakhead of beast; at the base of the order are two dragons, one winged and one terminating in interlace; the splayed label is enriched with carving terminating, on each side, in a large grotesque beast-head reversed with conventional foliage below; the intervening surface on the label is filled with a series of nine medallions with pelleted borders joined together by grotesque heads of monsters with open mouths; the first four medallions contain birds, the fifth a nondescript monster, the sixth a large bird, the seventh two fishes rendered as the zodiac-sign, the eighth a nondescript monster and the ninth two intertwined monsters; within the inner order of the arch is a tympanum carved with a conventional vine-spray and resting on a lintel with a moulded edge and cheveron-ornament; the jambs are of two orders, the inner plain and with moulded imposts and chamfered bases; the outer order projects from the wall-face and is shafted, both parts of the order being enriched with elaborate carving —on the E. side, two scrolled serpents, one biting the other's tail and both interlaced with foliage; the shaft on this side has elaborate interlaced foliage partly of acanthus type and with two birds at the base; the capital is carved with a large grotesque beast-head, with two vine-sprigs issuing from its mouth: on the W. side are two serpents as on the E. jamb; the shaft has scrolled foliage and two figures of Welsh (?) warriors in peaked caps of Phrygian form, a ribbed hauberk covering the body and arms and long trews covering the legs and secured at the waist with an interlaced knot; the upper figure holds a long weapon, perhaps a javelin, and the lower a long sword with a cross-guard; the capital is carved with a grotesque monster and a lion; the abaci of both jambs are moulded and enriched with a diapered band. The buttresses of the S. wall are similar to those of the N. wall and the cappings of both angle-buttresses are enriched with carved foliage and have projecting dragon-heads; the head on the E. is partly broken off; the corbel-table is also similar to that on the N. wall, with corbels carved as follows—(a and b) broken off; (c) beast-head; (d) ram's head; (e) interlace and foliage; (f) lion's head; (g) two-strand interlace; (h) grotesque beast-head; (i) grotesque human head; (j) two human figures (damaged) and interlace; (k) broken off; (l) Agnus Dei; (m) parts of two human figures; (n and o) broken off; (p) interlaced serpents; (q) beast-head; (r) human head; (s) hawk and bird. The corbel-table is continued horizontally across the W. wall of the nave where the corbels are carved as follows—(a and b) human heads; (c) broken off; (d) ram's head; (e) human head; (f) head of monster; (g) head of monster; (h) a beak-head with a human figure in its mouth; (i) interlaced monsters; (j) ram's or goat's head; (k and l) human heads; above the corbel-course the face of the gable-wall is brought forward and in it is a 12th-century window having a round head with a roll-moulding on the soffit completely covered with two-strand interlace, each of the four voussoirs forming a complete design; the jambs have each a shaft completely covered with interlacing pelleted bands; the capitals are each carved with a face having sprigs of foliage issuing from the mouth; the bases are of inverted cushion-type with concentric rings on the upright faces; this window was not intended to be glazed. The roofs and bell-cote are modern.
Fittings—Bell: one; inaccessible. Coffin-lid: in nave—fixed on N. wall, upper part of slab with enriched cross-head in round sunk panel, 13th-century. Floor-slabs: in chancel—(1) to Elizabeth, wife of John Saise (of Withinton), c. 1700, also to Mrs. Mary Saise, and to John Saise, 1705, and others later; (2) to Bridget, wife of Edmond Gomond, 1684–5, also to Edmond Gomond, 1713; (3) large tapering slab with moulded edge, date uncertain. Font: (Plate 38) large round bowl of breccia with curved side and hollow-chamfered under-edge, resting on modern central pier and four round shafts with moulded bases and simple foliated or scrolled capitals, late 12th or early 13th-century. Gallery: in nave—across W. end, of oak, resting on six posts, square, tapering with moulded capitals and grooved bases; the four posts in front support the moulded beam of the gallery-front which has a balustrade with turned balusters and moulded rail; in gallery three ranges of seats, two having balusters at back and moulded rail mostly of modern deal, back seat with back of old panelling, early to mid 17th-century, staircase at back with early 18th-century turned balusters. Lockers: in apse—in W. wall, flanking arch, two recesses with rectangular openings partly rebated and extending into side walls, mediæval. Panelling: in chancel—fixed at back of S. door, miscellaneous panelling, late 16th and early 17th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten both with the date 1669. Stoup: (Plate 40) in apse— round bowl encircled by two human arms and hands in low relief, rounded necking and hemispherical base with four heads of monsters or snakes carved upon it and issuing from the necking, late 12th-century, probably stoup. Miscellanea: loose in chancel—ballshaped terminal of stone with socket for fixing and surface enriched with weathered interlacing ornament, late 12th-century.
b(2). Kilpeck Castle, immediately W. of the church, consists of a motte and bailey and various outworks. The motte (Plate 1) is roughly circular with a diameter of 54 yards at the base and a maximum height of 27 ft. above the bottom of the ditch. It is surmounted by the remains of a polygonal shell-keep of masonry of which two large fragments remain towards the N. and the S.W. The keep is probably of the 12th century and was polygonal both within and without; the external faces appear to have averaged about 14 ft. and the external diameter of the building was about 100 ft. In the N. fragment of walling is a fire-place-recess with a segmental back of ashlar and a round flue; to the E. are remains of a cross-wall, and there are two round drain-holes piercing the outer wall. The S.W. fragment has remains of an ashlar-faced oven with the springing of an arch across the front; this oven was in the angle of a cross-wall and farther N. is a third drain-hole. The motte is surrounded by a ditch which separates it from the kidneyshaped inner bailey on the E. and from an outer bank on the W. The bailey has an outer ditch and remains of a rampart at the N. and S. ends; there are slight traces of a causeway leading to the motte. The bailey was entered from the S.W., where a gap in the rampart is flanked on one side by a small mound, perhaps covering the remains of part of a gatehouse. There are three outer enclosures on the N.W. and S. of the main earthwork, which are of irregular form and enclosed by ditches or scarps. The stream, to the W. of the site, was dammed at a point level with the N. side of the W. enclosure. To the N.E. of the main earthwork is a roughly rectangular village-enclosure, about 300 yards by 200 yards; within it stand the church and other buildings, and there are scarps on the three outer sides and remains of a rampart on the N.W. and S.E. sides in addition. Within the enclosure are traces of foundations at right angles to the sides.
Condition—Of earthworks, fairly good.
b(3). The Priory, house, barn and earthworks, 370 yards S.E. of the church, occupies the site of a small cell of the Benedictine Abbey of Gloucester, founded in the 12th century. The House is of two storeys originally timber-framed but mostly refaced with rubble; the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was built early in the 17th century, on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the E. and S. The timber-framing is exposed on the N. side. Inside the building are some original moulded and chamfered ceiling-beams.
The Barn, W. of the house, is timber-framed and of five bays. It was built in the 17th century and has an added early 18th-century wing on the N.W.
The Earthworks, probably marking the site of the mediæval priory, lie about 70 yards S.S.W. of the house and consist of a slight platform with one or two small banks to the E. of it.
Condition—Of house, good.
b(4). Kilpeck Court and outbuildings, 30 yards S.E. of the church. The House (Plate 17) is of two storeys, originally timber-framed but partly refaced in stone and brick; the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was built c. 1600 on an L-shaped plan with the crosswings at the N. and S. ends and a small additional wing to the N. of the N. cross-wing. The exterior has been largely refaced, but the small N. wing retains its timber-framing and there is a large stone chimney-stack on the N. side of the N. cross-wing. Re-set on the E. side is an original stone window of three lights with a moulded label. Re-set in a modern annexe are a 12th-century corbel and fragments with cheveron-ornament. Inside the building, most of the ground-floor rooms have original moulded ceiling-beams and the large room in the N. wing has moulded plaster panels in addition. The original staircase has flat pierced and shaped balusters, square newels with moulded terminals and grip-moulded hand-rails. The coal-cellar has a 17th-century panelled door.
The Outbuilding, N.E. of the house, consists of a granary, barn, stable and cowshed; it is partly of stone and partly timber-framed and dates from the 17th century. The Barn, N. of the outbuilding, is also of the 17th century and is timber-framed and weather-boarded.
Condition—Of house, good.
b(5). Dippersmoor Manor, house and outbuildings, ½ m. S. of the church. The House is mainly of two storeys; the walls are partly timber-framed and partly of rubble; the roofs are covered with slates. The main block of the house with the kitchen-wing projecting towards the W. date from the 15th century. Late in the 16th century the N. end was re-built in stone, with a spiral staircase, and probably in the 17th century the block (now a hall) was added in the N.W. angle of the building. Some further alterations were made in the 18th century, and there is a modern wing on the E. side. There is some exposed timber-framing on the W. side of the house and the end of the kitchen-wing incorporates an original crutch-truss. At the N. end there is a 16th-century window of two lights with a diamond-shaped mullion. Inside the building, the hall is lined with 17th-century panelling, mostly not in situ and not all of one date; above the fireplace are three carved panels with enriched pilasters and arches. Between the hall and the oak-room is an early 18th-century panelled door. The oak-room is lined with re-fixed 17th-century panelling, with enriched panels above the fireplace. The ceiling has an original moulded beam. The dining-room has chamfered ceiling-beams. The main staircase has shaped splatbalusters and a square newel with a moulded terminal; it is partly of 17th-century date, made up with new material. Several beams on the first floor have remains of painted decoration, consisting of conventional leaf and flower-ornament; the battened door to the spiral staircase is covered with painted decoration of similar type. The crutch-trusses of the original construction are visible in the main block and the kitchen-wing.
The Outbuilding, E.N.E. of the house, is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, timber-framed and of four bays. The Barn, now stables, E. of the house, is a 17th-century building, timber-framed and with queen-post roof-trusses. The Outbuilding, S.W. of the barn, is a timber-framed structure of early 17th-century date, and of one storey with attics. It has been almost entirely refaced in stone.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, timber-framed and with the roofs covered with stone or modern slates. Many of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and old chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
b(6). Red Lion Inn, 200 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of brick. There is a modern extension on the S.
b(7). Barn, at Bridge Farm, 400 yards N. of the church, is weather-boarded and the roof is covered with corrugated iron. It is of four bays with queenpost trusses.
b(8). Size Croft, house and barn, 950 yards S.E. of the church. The House has been almost entirely re-constructed. The Barn, N.E. of the house, is weather-boarded and of three bays.
b(9). Allenshill Farm, house and barn, nearly 1 m. E.S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys and has been re-faced with stone. Some timber-framing is exposed on the N. side. The Barn, S.W. of the house, is weather-boarded and of three bays, with later extensions at the ends.
b(10). Cottage, on the S. side of the road at Morlas, over ½ m. S.W. of the church, is of two storeys and has exposed timber-framing.
b(11). Outbuildings at Withington Farm, over 1 m. W.S.W. of the church, consist of a barn and smaller building to the E. of it. They have exposed timber-framing in square panels. The barn (Plate 12) is of five bays with queen-post trusses and a basement below.
c(12). Barn at Gwern-genny, nearly 1¼ m. S.W. of the church, is of late 17th or early 18th-century date and of four bays; the walls are weather-boarded.
a(13). Benarth Farm, house and barn, 1½ m. S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics and has modern additions on the N. and S. sides. Inside the building, the ground floor has original moulded ceiling-beams.
The Barn, S. of the house, is weather-boarded and of three bays; there is a cow-shed at the W. end.
c(14). Hill Top Farm, house, ¼ m. E.S.E. of (13), is of one storey with attics; the roofs are thatched. The timber-framing is exposed.
c(15). Cwm Barn, ¼ m. E.S.E. of (14), is of three bays, weather-boarded and has a corrugated iron roof.
c(16). Greenway Farm, house and barn, 1½ m. S. of the church. The House is of one storey with attics and was built c. 1600. It was extended on the W. and N. in the 18th century, and partly refaced in stone. Inside the building, the fireplace on the ground floor has moulded stone jambs and a wrought-iron jack dated 1704.
The Barn, S.E. of the house, is weather-boarded and was originally of three bays.
c(17). Merryvale Farm, house, nearly 1¾ m. S. of the church, is of one storey with attics; the walls are of rubble. It has a late 18th-century extension at the S.E. end.
b(18). Mound, on S. bank of stream N.E. of Digget's Wood, and ¾ m. S.S.W. of the church, is roughly round, about 26 yards in diameter at the base and 6 ft. high.