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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49 MICHAELCHURCH ESCLEY (B.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXVII, N.E., (b)XXXVII, S.E.)
Michaelchurch Escley is a parish 13 m. W.S.W. of Hereford. The church and Michaelchurch Court are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Michael (Plate 6) stands towards the S. end of the parish. The walls, where ancient, are of shaly rubble with local sandstone dressings; the quoins are undressed; the roofs are covered with stone slates. The building exhibits nothing of earlier date than late in the 14th or early in the 15th century, to which date belongs the S.E. window of the Nave. Other openings in the Chancel and nave and the South Porch are of late 15th or early 16th-century date. The church has been restored in modern times when the S.W. angle of the nave was re-built and the West Tower added.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (27½ ft. by 23 ft.) has a modern E. window. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern a rectangular light of the 16th or 17th century, and the western an elliptical-headed light, probably of early 16th-century date; farther W. is a blocked early 16th-century doorway with a four-centred rear-arch, but only represented by a patch on the exterior. In the S. wall are two modern windows and between them a patch of later walling which may represent a destroyed doorway. The side walls of the chancel have each an eaves-cornice of wood. There is no chancel-arch.
The Nave (47¾ ft. by 22¾ ft.) has in the N. wall a window, perhaps of the 16th century, and of two square-headed lights. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern of the late 14th or early 15th century, and of three cinque-foiled ogee lights with trefoiled tracery in a square head; the western window is of two square-headed lights and perhaps of the 16th century; the S. doorway has plain jambs and two-centred arch of rubble and perhaps of 18th-century date. The side walls of the nave have each an eaves-cornice of wood. In the W. wall is a modern archway to the tower.
The South Porch is probably of early 16th-century date, and has side walls of stone with a timber S. front. The outer archway has moulded side-posts and an elliptical arch in a square head. The side walls have each a rectangular loop-light. The roof is of braced collar-beam type with moulded braces, purlins and cornices; the middle purlin is modern. The S. gable is open and has barge-boards ornamented with a series of arched panels or deep foils; the moulded external plates are similar to those in the chancel and nave.
The Roof of the chancel and nave is of early 16th-century date, and of trussed-rafter type, formerly boarded or ceiled on the soffit. The soffit is divided by moulded purlins and alternate moulded rafters to form panels. The roof of the chancel is rather lower than that of the nave. There are four tie-beams, all moulded except the westernmost; the wall-plates are also moulded.
Fittings—Bells: four; 2nd probably early 18th-century, rest 1732. Chair: (Plate 26) in chancel— with turned and twisted posts, legs and two stretchers, back with cresting carved with a crown and two cherubs, similar carving on front stretcher, curved arms with acanthus-enrichment and paw-feet to legs, late 17th-century. Chest: in nave—with panelled front and lid, three strap-hinges with hasps and staples, late 17th-century. Door: in nave—in S. doorway, of battens with strap-hinges, 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with moulded upper and lower edge and plain sides, plain stem and moulded base, 15th-century. Glass: In nave—in S. window, shield with emblems of the Passion, foliated spandrel and fragments with sun and foliage, early 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In nave—at W. end, (1) fragments of dismantled monument consisting of triangular panelled slab with sun, moon, stars, sheaves and book, 17th-century. In churchyard—S. of chancel; (2) to Jane Watkins, 1699, flat slab; (3) to John Watkins, 1711, flat slab. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Thomas Smith, 1711. In nave—(2) to Phillip Rogers, 1698, Sibil Rogers, 1714–15, and John Rogers, 1714–15, slab with lozengy border; (3) to A. M., 1690, and T. P. 1707; (4) to T.P., 1706; (5) names defaced but with dates 1690 and 169–. In S. porch—(6) name defaced, but with date 1707 and lozengy border. Painting: In nave—on N. wall, large figure of Christ (Plate 184), with nimbus and loin-cloth, left hand held up to shoulder, right hand to breast; background filled with craftsman's tools, etc., including wool-comb, plane, axes, saw, hammer, mallet, mattock, shears, spoke-shave, jug, wheel, sword, cross-saw, gridiron, frying-pan, awl, bobbin, knives, etc., in black, white and yellow on black ground, figure in red line, late 15th or early 16th-century. Panelling: In nave—on S. wall, modern dado incorporating some 17th-century panelling with the date 1691. Plate: includes cup of 1628 with cover-paten inscribed "Yazor 1628" given by Yazor Church to Michaelchurch Escley in 1852. Screen: between chancel and nave—modern but incorporating pieces of early 16th-century carving, etc., including portions of running foliage-ornament on the middle rail, the head-beam itself with some running vine-ornament, and the moulded fascia on the W. face of the beam. Sundial: In churchyard—S.W. of porch, octagonal wooden post with square head-block and modern metal dial, 17th or 18th-century.
b(2). Michaelchurch Court, house and fishpond, ½ m. W.N.W. of the church. The House is of three storeys; the walls are of rubble with some timber-framing, and the roofs are covered with stone slates. The original house is of the 16th century or earlier and is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. In 1602 a timber-framed addition, including a porch, was made on the E. side of the N. wing. There are 18th-century and modern additions.
The plasterwork of the porch is an interesting feature.
The E. front (Plate 185) has the timber-framed addition at the N. end; it has three gables and exposed framing, but is partly destroyed by a later addition. The upper storey projects on a moulded bressummer, and the upper part, with the gables, has timber-work in geometrical panels. Below the S. gable is the porch with segmental-headed outer and inner archways; the walls are panelled to more than half the height, and above the panelling they have ornamental plaster-work (Plate 186) which is continued over the ceiling; the design is formed of conventional vine-stems with grapes and rosettes; on the S. side are the letters MLCEN.P. and the date 1602; on the W. side is a grotesque face. In the N. wall of the house is a doorway with a heavy oak frame and panelled door with ornamental strap-hinges. Inside the building, some timber framing and ceiling-beams are exposed. The hall, dining-room and other rooms are lined with 16th and 17th-century panelling.
The Fishpond, 500 yards E.N.E. of the house, has been formed by raising a bank to dam a small stream which flows into a mill-race by the side of the Escley Brook. This bank is on the E. side of the pond and returns for a short distance at either end, where advantage has been taken of the natural slope of the ground towards the stream to form a roughly triangular enclosure; the N.W. side has been artificially scarped. The pond is now dry.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and of one storey with attics or two storeys; the walls are of stone rubble and the roofs are covered with stone slates or modern slates. Most of the buildings have exposed beams in the ceilings and original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
b(3). House with smithy adjoining W. end, 60 yards S.S.E. of the church. The E. wall of the house is timber-framed with brick nogging, but the other walls have been encased with later stonework. The smithy was added probably late in the 17th or early in the 18th century, and there is a modern addition at the W. end and the back of the house. Inside the building is an old cross-partition constructed with heavy chamfered posts and narrow vertical wood panels.
b(4). Bridge Farm, house, 40 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and cellar. It is built on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W. It appears to have been altered, and was probably enlarged and heightened in the 18th century.
b(5). Ty-Mawr, house and barn, 820 yards E.N.E. of the church. The House is timber-framed with brick nogging on a stone base, but the lower part of the N.W. wall has been refronted in stone. Later stone farm-buildings have been built at either end of the house.
The Barn, S. of the house, is of stone and of the 17th century, with a modern iron roof.
b(6). Wern Farm, house, 280 yards S. of (5), is of 17th-century date, but has been altered and partly refronted in modern times.
b(7). Rockyfold Farm, house, 540 yards S. of the church, is of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N. and E. The N. end of the N. wing forms a cattle-shed with a loft above, and this wing has been extended farther N. in modern times. Some of the doorways and windows retain their old wood frames. Inside the building is an original timber partition with heavy oak posts and narrow vertical panels. A doorway to the S.E. staircase has a solid frame and a shaped inner head.
b(8). Oldhouse Farm, house, 100 yards N.N.W. of (7), was probably a timber-framed building. It has since been encased in stone and has been added to at either end and at the back. Inside the building, in both the end walls of the principal ground-floor room, is an original door-frame with a four-centred head.
b(9). Escley Cottage, 1,020 yards N.N.W. of the church, was a timber-framed building of 17th-century date. Late in the 18th or early in the 19th century it was converted into a school and tenement, added to and largely altered.
b(10). Grove Farm, house, about ¼ m. W. of (9), was built in the 17th century, but has been remodelled and heightened in modern times. Inside the building, on the ground floor, is an original timber partition with stop-chamfered framing and long vertical panels between the posts.
b(11). Firs Farm, house, 370 yards N. of (10), was built during the first half of the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W. The S. wing was extended southwards late in the 18th century, and the house has been altered in modern times. In the N. wall is an original window of five transomed lights with moulded wood frame and mullions, and a doorway with a roughly formed four-centred arch. There are two similar doorways on the other side of the house.
b(12). Cefn-cist Farm, house, 680 yards N.N.E. of (11), is of 17th-century origin, but was largely altered and in part re-built in the early years of the present century.
b(13). Holt Farm, house, ½ m. N.W. of (10), was built early in the 17th century, but has been remodelled and heightened in modern times. At the S. end and under the same roof as the house is a stable. In the N. wall is an old window, formerly of two lights, but the diamond-shaped mullion is missing.
a(14). Quaker's Farm, house and barn, ½ m. N.W. of (13). The House was built early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. Shortly after a lean-to addition was added along the whole of the N. side, and the E. end of this has been extended towards the N. in modern times. The E. front has a small porch with a lean-to roof carried on a stop-chamfered angle post. The entrance doorway (Plate 35) in the wall behind has a heavy chamfered frame and an original nail-studded door of heavy planks hung on two ornamental strap-hinges. Some of the windows have their original chamfered wood frames and mullions, and one in the S. wall is moulded. The chimney-stack on the S. end of the S. wing is surmounted by two square shafts set diagonally.
The Barn, S.E. of the house, retains two crutchtrusses, probably of 15th-century date, and a few old timbers in the framing, but has otherwise been almost entirely re-built.
a(15). Lower House Farm, house, about ½ m. E. of (14), was built in the 17th century on a rectangular plan with gabled wings on either side of a lower central block. The S.W. end appears to have been extended towards the N.W., shortly after the house was built. On the N.W. front are some old windows with chamfered frames and mullions, including one of four transomed and mullioned lights. Inside the building the exposed joists in the central ground-floor rooms are grooved at the angles.
a(16). Barn, at Upper House, 250 yards N. of (15), is partly stone and partly of weather-boarded timber-framing. It has later additions and has been partly re-built in modern times.
a(17). Pen-twyn, cottage and barn, 300 yards N.N.W. of (16). The Cottage has been altered, probably in 1782, which date appears on a fireplace. The entrance-doorway in the S. wall has a moulded frame, and in the N. wall is the old frame of a five-light window, but only one of the diamond-shaped mullions remains. Inside the building is an original timber partition with heavy posts and narrow vertical panels. The ceilings of the ground-floor rooms have moulded beams.
a(18). Lower House Farm, house, barn and stables, on the S. side of Escley Brook, ¼ m. N.N.W. of (14), is of 17th-century date. The House has been entirely modernised.
The Barn is of weather-boarded timber-framing; the roofs are covered with corrugated iron. Internally it is divided into four bays by crutch-trusses which rise from the ground to the apex of the roof. The Stables retain their old doorways with heavy oak frames.
Condition—Of farm-buildings, derelict.
a(19). Clothier Farm, house, 1,020 yards N.E. of (17), was remodelled and extended at the W. end to form a stable in the 17th or early in the 18th century; at the same time, or slightly later, a S. wing was added at the S. end of the house. Some of the windows have original wood frames, but only one retains its old mullions.
a(20). Glibes Farm, house with a barn adjoining it at either end, ½ m. N.W. of (17). The House was built probably c. 1600. It was later extended at the E. end by the erection of a bakehouse, the E. end of which was connected up to the E. barn by a covered way. Later in the 17th century a one-storeyed extension was built at the W. end of the house, and the W. barn was probably built at the same time. In the N. wall is a doorway with an original stop-chamfered frame and the old frame of a five-light window which retains only one of its mullions. Inside the building all the partitions are of the local type with stop-chamfered framing and tall, narrow panels between the posts.
The E. Barn has a timber-framed and weather-boarded N. wall. The W. Barn was extended towards the S. and partly re-built early in the 18th century.
a(21). Blaenau, two cottages, 320 yards W.S.W. of (20). The northernmost cottage was built in the 16th century on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N. end. A porch was added on the E. side of the S. wing probably late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. Inside the building the oak partitions are of the local type. One of the ceiling-beams in the upper floor is supported on shaped and enriched brackets. The southernmost cottage is now used as a shed and has been re-roofed with iron. It has an old chamfered oak door-frame and an original five-light window with diamond-shaped mullions. Inside the building is an original timber partition.
Condition—Of N. cottage, poor; of S. cottage, bad.
a(22). Old Kates, cottage and barn, 740 yards W. of (21). The Cottage is of early 17th-century date. It is now used as a farm-store and has been partly re-roofed with iron. One doorway and a window retain thin, old oak frames. Inside the building, at either end of the central cross-wall, is an old oak doorway with an arched head, and there is a similar doorway to the winding staircase. The staircase is of stone with heavy oak baulks for treads.
The Barn, S. of the cottage, is divided into three bays by two pairs of crutch-trusses; the side walls are timber-framed and weather-boarded.
Condition—Of cottage and barn, poor.
a(23). Great Cefn Farm, house and barn, 500 yards W.S.W. of (22). The House was built probably c. 1677, which date appears on the farm-buildings. It has a lower addition at the N. end. The entrance-doorway has an old oak frame, and some old oak mullioned windows remain.
The Barn, N.E. of the house, is in four bays with a stable and loft, of two bays, adjoining on the E. The walls of the barn are pierced with narrow loop-lights and the roof-trusses are of queen-post type. In the S. wall of the stables are three old doorways with solid wood frames and rough stone labels. On the lintel of the middle doorway is inscribed the date 1677. The barn is probably a little earlier in date than the stables.
a(24). Lower Llan-Rosser, house, 550 yards N. of (23), is of 17th-century date. The entrance-doorway and some of the windows have old oak frames; the latter have chamfered mullions, and one window retains its old leaded glazing. Inside the building is an old oak partition.
a(25). Tyn-y-gwynt, house, now used as a cow-house and farm building, nearly ½ m. E.S.E. of (24), is of early 17th-century date. Inside the building are some old partitions with closely set timber-studding.
a(26). Caeiron, house, 1,200 yards N.W. of (24), has the date 1681 carved on a stone in the E. wall. Though this is probably the date of its erection, the house has been much altered in modern times.
a(27). Oldhay Farm, house, nearly ¾ m. N.E. of (20), was built not later than the 15th century, possibly as a timber-framed building, but the walls have since been re-built in stone. About 1600 it was remodelled, extended towards the N.E. and a chimney-stack inserted; the porch on the S.E. front and the lean-to addition at the back of the house are possibly also of this date. In the addition is one old two-light window with a chamfered oak frame and rough stone label. Inside, the building is divided into four bays by original crutch-trusses.
a(28). Upper Pen-y-park, house and barn, ¼ m. N.N.W. of (27). The House has been partly re-built, and the remaining portion of the original structure has been gutted to form a stable.
The Barn, N.E. of the house, is probably of late 15th-century date. In the walls are small loop-lights. Inside, the building is divided into five bays by crutchtrusses; the two end-bays are slightly narrower than the middle-bays.
Condition—Of house, almost ruinous; of barn, poor.
(29). Earthwork (Plan, p. xxxiv), called the Camp, on the W. border of the parish, about 1½ m. N.W. of the church, consists of an oval-shaped enclosure surrounded by a rampart which at the E. end has a broad, flat top. The enclosure stands on a rough terrace or platform of irregular oval shape, the scarp of which joins the rampart at the N. end of the enclosure. The purpose of this earthwork is uncertain, but it was probably a defensive post of some kind, though certainly not a camp as its name would imply.