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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70 WELSH NEWTON (D.e.).
(O.S. 6 in. LIII, N.E.)
Welsh Newton is a parish 7 m. W.S.W. of Ross. The church and Pembridge Castle are the principal monuments.
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate 7), stands on the W. border of the parish. The walls generally are of coursed sandstone rubble with worked dressings of the same material; the E. wall of the chancel is of squared rubble as is also the W. tower, except the top stage and the spire which are of ashlar; the roofs are covered with stone slates. The font is of the 12th century or earlier, but there are no structural features of that period. The Chancel and Nave are of the 13th century, and the West Tower was added and the W. wall of the nave was re-built at the end of the same century. From the thickness it appears as if the W. wall was re-built on the foundations of the earlier wall which was probably carried up to a bell-cote which the W. tower replaced. The side walls of the chancel and nave were heightened c. 1330, and a gabled dormer window was built in the S. wall of the latter to light the rood screen which was erected early in the 14th century. About the same time the South Porch was added. The chancel has at some time been shortened and the E. wall re-built. The building has been restored in modern times and the Vestry added.
The building is of little architectural interest, but among the fittings the stone screen and stone seat in the chancel are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (20½ ft. by 14¾ ft.) is structurally undivided from the nave. Externally along the S. wall and continued along the S. wall of the nave is a row of plain square corbels marking the level of the original eaves. The E. wall has been re-built and the chancel has been shortened; the E. window is modern. In the N. wall is an original lancet window and a modern doorway to the vestry. In the S. wall are two original lancet-windows both rebated internally; the western window is also rebated externally and retains in its W. splay two iron staples; the inner sill has been carried down to form a seat.
The Nave (40 ft. by 20½ ft.) has in the N. wall three lancet-windows, all restored externally and with retooled splays and modern rear-arches and sills. In the S. wall are three lancet windows; the two easternmost have modern rear-arches, and the middle window has also a modern inner sill, retooled splays and is modern externally. High up in the E. end of the wall, lighting the chancel-screen, is a stone dormer window of c. 1330; it is of two ogee trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the dormer is gabled and surmounted by a small gablecross. The 13th-century S. doorway has chamfered jambs and a segmental-pointed head with a chamfered label. In the W. wall are two 13th-century lancetwindows with wide splays.
The West Tower (4 ft. by 3½ ft.) is in two stages; it has a projecting plinth with a moulded string above and low angle buttresses against the W. wall; the tower is surmounted by a low octagonal broach spire which rises off a low set-back in the walling above the top stage. The bottom stage has in the E. wall a narrow segmental-pointed arch of a single chamfered order; it springs off the side walls of the tower. In the W. wall is a narrow loop-light with wide splays. The top stage or belfry has in each wall a small rectangular light. The spire is surmounted by a weather vane.
The 14th-century South Porch has an outer entrance with chamfered jambs and a segmental-pointed arch of two orders, the inner rounded and the outer chamfered. Against the side walls are stone seats.
The Roof over the chancel and nave is continuous and of early 16th-century date; it is of barrel-form and is divided into rectangular plaster panels by moulded wooden ribs with square blocks at the intersections; it has deep moulded wall-plates and a moulded tie-beam against the E. wall of the chancel and a cambered and moulded tie-beam over the middle of the nave.
Fittings—Bells: two, inaccessible. Brass Indent: on chancel step, of figure with inscription plate, mediæval. Churchyard Cross: In churchyard—with modern shaft set on four steps, mediæval. Coffinslabs: In chancel—part only with cross in relief with foliated head within circle, 14th-century. In porch— re-set as top of seat on E. side portions of two slabs, (a) carved with part of shaft with much defaced cruciform head within circle; (b) carved with part of head of cross formed of intersecting circles, both considerably worn and probably late 13th-century. Re-set as top of W. seat, three portions of slabs each carved with part of cruciform head within circle and one with part of shaft also, all considerably worn and probably late 13th-century. Font: tapering cylindrical bowl, with slightly convex sides and projecting band on lower part and narrow projecting band round bottom, short circular stem on modern step, 12th-century or earlier. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In churchyard—S.E. of chancel, (1) to Mary, daughter of Charles Taylor, 1677; also to Charles Boucher, 1706, grandson of Charles Taylor, grave-slab; by churchyard cross, (2) to I. K. 1679 [John Kemble, Roman Catholic priest, executed 22nd August, 1679], slab with incised cross and border set within modern curb; (3) to Mary, wife of Henry Scudamore, 1708, and her children, died 1697, 1699 and 1703, graveslab; (4) to T.C., headstone with incised heart and initials, probably late 17th or early 18th-century; S. of chancel; (5) to John Jones, 1675–6, headstone; S. of nave; (6) to Blanch, wife of John Williams, 1709–10, headstone; (7) to Charles, son of Thomas Benet, 1697, headstone; (8) to Philipp Donn, 1666, also to Philip Donn, 1623, and others later, table-tomb with enriched end and initials P.D.; (9) to Richard Fetherstone, 1705, headstone re-cut; (10) to Mary, wife of William Dunn, 1714, headstone with scroll-top and enriched border. Floor-slabs: In nave —at E. end, by chancel-step, (1) part only with date "1675"; (2) to John Hopkin, 1698 and Joane his wife, 1688; at W. end of nave, (3) to Charles Tudor, Sen. 1704. Piscinæ: In chancel—in E. splay of S.E. window, recess with rebated jambs, trefoiled head and sex-foiled drain, 13th-century. In nave—in sill of easternmost window, sex-foiled drain, partly broken. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1689, with inscription and name, Jno. Hopkins, church-warden, 1689, on cup, pewter flagon with same inscription, and a pewter bowl and plate. Screen: (Plate 7) between chancel and nave, of stone, in three bays divided by octagonal piers with semi-octagonal responds all with moulded capitals and moulded bases; middle bay narrower than side bays and with two-centred arch; side bays each with segmental-pointed arch; each arch of two moulded orders and with moulded label towards the nave decorated with 'ball-flower' ornament; screen finished at top with hollow-chamfered cornice decorated with 'ball-flower' ornament on W. side; c. 1330, partly restored. Seat: (Plate 60) In chancel—against N. wall, of stone, with shaped arm-supports and chamfered seat, 13th-century, with modern tile front. Sedile: In chancel, sill of S.E. window carried down to form seat; sill of S.W. window stepped down in middle to form seat with hollow-chamfered slabs to shelves at sides, 13th-century. Stoup: In porch—against E. side of doorway to nave, with square drain and chamfered under edge, mediæval.
(2). Pembridge Castle (Plate 200), house and moat stand in the N.W. corner of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble and ashlar. The castle occupies a roughly rectangular site surrounded by a moat and approached near the southern angle. It belonged to the Wakes and in the 14th and 15th centuries to the Mortimers. No documentary evidence of the building or alteration of the castle has been found, and the following account is based on the architectural evidence alone. The earliest surviving structure appears to be the large round tower or keep at the W. angle of the castle, which dates from late in the 12th or early in the 13th century; that a hall or other domestic building of the same date adjoined the keep on the N.E. is perhaps indicated by the flattening of the curve on that side and by the survival of part of a large arch built over the entrance. The Gatehouse and the Curtain Walls were built about the middle or second half of the 13th century, and the crypt of the Chapel is probably of the same date. A fireplace of c. 1500 indicates some alteration in the upper part of the gatehouse at this date; the chapel was built or re-built at the end of the 16th century. The existing house on the N.W. side of the enclosure was built early in the 17th century but, no doubt, replaced earlier buildings on the same site, of which some traces remain. The castle was held for the king in the Civil War and was besieged in 1644; this siege probably reduced the building to the ruin in which it largely remained until the restorations undertaken by the present owner. These include the rebuilding of most of the upper part of the gatehouse and of the curtain between the house and the chapel, and more or less extensive repairs to other parts of the building.
The building is interesting as an example of the smaller border-castles of the period.
The Gatehouse is of two storeys with a basement; the base of the walls, towards the moat, and the front towards the courtyard are of rubble, but the rest of the outer front is of ashlar. The entrance has chamfered jambs and a segmental-pointed arch, grooved for a portcullis; above it, externally, is a segmental outer arch of two chamfered orders, springing from the round flanking towers of the gatehouse; the upper part of the N.W. tower and most of the S.E. tower is modern restoration, as is the front of the upper storey above the gateway itself. On the N.W. side of the N.W. tower is an original window with a pointed head. The front towards the courtyard has an arch with chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed head; flanking it are lancet-windows; the upper part of the front is a modern restoration. The gate-hall is divided by a segmental-pointed arch with holes for a draw-bar in the side walls; in the N.W. wall is a restored doorway with one original jamb. Inside the building, in the N.W. wall of the upper floor, is a fireplace of c. 1400 with moulded jambs and square head; the back is of bricks set herring-bone fashion. In the upper part of the N.E. wall is part of an original staircase leading to the roof.
The Curtain between the gatehouse and the keep is of mid to late 13th-century date and against it is set the kitchen-wing which was built or re-built in the 17th century. It is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with stone slates. In it are some exposed and chamfered beams.
The Keep, at the W. angle of the castle, is of four storeys with a battered plinth and divided externally into two stages by a moulded string-course; the embattled parapet is modern, but the rest of the building is of late 12th or early 13th-century date, up to about three courses above the string-course; the original part is faced with ashlar. The walls are pierced by several loops, and projecting on corbels from the S. side is a small garde-robe. The tower is entered, on the E. side, by a doorway with chamfered jambs and an irregular semi-circular head; this doorway is approached by a small lobby, in the S.W. wall of which is a blocked doorway; from above this springs the surviving part of a large arch, the broken end of which is supported on an inserted beam; there is nothing to show the former function of this arch. The first floor retains the original stone corbels for the floor-beams; a passage, in the wall, to the kitchen-range has two re-used early 17th-century panelled doors. The top floor has a fireplace, on the N. side, with a square head.
The Curtain on the N.W. face of the castle is of rubble with a modern embattled parapet. The S.W. end adjoins and is of the same date as the keep, the string-course of which continues along its face. Near the base is a small doorway with a pointed head, and immediately N.E. of it is the semi-circular base of a small projecting bastion. The wall further N.E. has been much patched but retains four cruciform loops, below the parapet; at the back of this part of the curtain is the existing hall-block. Between this and the chapel-block the curtain is modern.
The Hall Block (Plate 200) is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble with a modern embattled parapet. It was built early in the 17th century and has a projecting porch and staircase-wing in the middle of the front. The S.E. front has no ancient features except in the projecting wing which has a re-set doorway and window of the 15th century brought from elsewhere; the doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head; the window is of two trefoiled and transomed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. In the N.E. wall of the block is a blocked doorway with a square head and the remains of a blocked window, at the first-floor level. There are various 16th and 17th-century windows in the curtain-wall. Inside the building, the ground floor has some early 17th-century moulded ceiling-beams. The staircase has a central newel and solid oak treads; two inner newels terminate, on the first floor, with shaped finials, and between them is a seat. The first floor has ceiling-beams similar to those below and two doorways with moulded frames and shaped heads. In the N.W. wall of the middle room is a fireplace with chamfered jambs and heavy oak lintel. The outer wall of the N.E. room is thickened a few feet above the floor, the projection being supported on shaped corbels.
The Chapel-block was formerly of three storeys but is now of two only. The late 13th-century undercroft is approached by a flight of steps and a doorway with chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed head. The undercroft has an inserted barrel-vault partly covering a square-headed window in the N.E. wall. The chapel has, in the N.W. wall, two ranges of early 17th-century square-headed windows with chamfered or moulded oak frames and mullions. In the S.E. wall is a window of two lights with a pierced spandrel in a two-centred head. The doorway in the S.W. wall is modern. The chapel contains the following fittings:—Altar: stone slab with chamfered under-edge. Gallery: at S.W. end, an early 17th-century moulded beam and front of re-used panelling of the same date. Piscina: in S.E. wall, square recess with round drain. Screen: with central doorway and two bays on each side; doorway with cusped and traceried head; side bays each with one close lower panel and two upper panels with trefoiled and traceried heads, late 15th-century, brought from Essex.
The N. Tower, at the angle of the castle, is a round solid structure with a modern embattled parapet.
The N.E. Curtain-wall has a modern embattled parapet. In it are original loops, widely splayed internally and with corbelled heads.
The E. Tower, at the angle of the castle forms a quadrant-shaped projection on plan, built solid. It is probable that the external segment of the circle was completed above the surviving level, one corbel still remaining, which supported the platform. The same platform was also carried across the internal angle on a skew-arch which still remains.
The S.E. Curtain is modern except for a length at either end. Towards the N.E. is a doorway with a pointed head, now opening on to a modern bridge; farther N.E. is a 13th-century window of two pointed lights under a two-centred rear-arch; it is rebated for shutters and has stone seats at the sides. The building which formerly adjoined the curtain in this angle has been entirely destroyed.
The Moat surrounds the castle and is mostly wet. The water is retained in the N. and W. arms by a bank. The moat was probably crossed, opposite the gatehouse, by a bridge and drawbridge, but any remains of the sides or pit are now covered with earth.
In the field, to the S.E. of the castle, are remains of gun-platforms dating from the siege of 1644.
(3). Tremahaid, farmhouse and outbuildings, ½ m. N.N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble, partly plastered, and the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was probably originally built in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.E. and S.E. Late in the 17th or early in the 18th century an addition was made, on the N.W., consisting of a kitchen or wash-house (possibly originally used as a cider-mill) with a granary above, thus making the present T-shaped plan. It has been modernised and altered in recent years. The N.E. front has an original four-light window with moulded jambs, head and mullions. Inside the building some of the rooms have stop-chamfered beams in the ceilings and there is an old stone doorway with chamfered jambs between the kitchen and the wash-house or back kitchen.
To the E. of the house there is a Barn of rubble with trussed roof in three bays covered with pantiles. On the W. side of the courtyard is a second Barn similar to the first with a double range of small rectangular lights in the side walls. The Stables, S.E. of the first barn, are built of rubble. The building is in three bays, with chamfered beams and exposed joists to the first floor and a stone slate roof supported by queenpost trusses.
Condition—Good, much altered.
(4). St. Wolstan's Farm, house, about 1¼ m. E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roof is covered with stone slates. It was built early in the 16th century, and there is a later addition on the N. side of the house and a modern extension to the W. of this. There is a blocked doorway in the W. wall with a rough segmental-pointed head, and the main chimney-stack has three square shafts, set diagonally on a rectangular base. Internally there are exposed and chamfered ceiling-beams.