Pages 42-46

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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In this section

16 CRASWALL (A.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXVII, N.W., (b)XXXVII, S.E., (c)XLIII, N.E.)

Craswall is a large parish, 14 m. W. of Hereford, and on the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains. The principal monument is the ruined Priory of St. Mary.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands in the northern half of the parish. The walls are of red sandstone rubble, without dressed quoins, but with other dressings of the same material; the roofs are covered with stone slates and modern slates. The building, consisting of Chancel, Nave and South Porch, is of uncertain date, the earliest detail being of the early part of the 15th century. The western part of the church was cut off by a wall probably in the 18th century. The church was restored in 1883.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel and Nave (35½ ft. by 15½ ft.) are structurally undivided except that the wall mentioned above cuts off the western part of the nave. The early 15th-century E. window is of three cinque-foiled ogee lights in a square head with casement-moulded external reveals. A stone bench runs along the external face of the E. wall and is continued along the S. wall as far as the S. porch and along the E. wall of the porch itself. In the eastern part of the N. wall is a square window, only visible externally and blocked with stone slabs. In the S. wall are three modern windows; between the two eastern windows is a doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, probably of the 14th or 15th century; between the two western windows and opening into the western division of the nave is a 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and three-centred head. In the W. wall is a round-headed window fitted with a modern wooden frame of two lights. In the dividing wall of the nave is an opening with a four-centred arch, now partly blocked and fitted with a square-headed doorway.

The South Porch has an outer archway with square jambs and a wooden lintel, with a segmental cutting on the soffit.

The Roof of the church, except the western division, is of the 15th century, and of four bays with a narrow bay at each end; the trusses are of braced collar-beam type; there are blocks at the base of the curved braces which may indicate that the trusses formerly had tie-beams; the soffit of the roof is boarded and has moulded ribs, partly restored, planted on; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled; there are three rough tie-beams added at a later date. The roof of the W. part of the nave is of 18th-century or modern date, but has a 15th-century moulded and embattled wall-plate on the N. side. The bell-turret is a small square timber structure, weather-boarded on the outside and covered with a pyramidal roof. The roof of the porch is of braced collar-beam type with curved braces forming half-round arches, and all perhaps of the 17th century.

Fittings—Cross: In churchyard—S. of church, three steps forming base of former cross, with socket for shaft. Paintings: On purlins of E. bay of roof and truss W. of it, remains of painted design of running foliage, probably 15th or early 16th-century. Piscina: In chancel—low recess with two round drains, probably not in situ. Plate: includes pewter basin, probably early 18th-century. Stoup: In S. porch, recess with quatre-foiled head and back, probably 15th-century and perhaps not in situ. Tables: In chancel—small table or high stool with thin turned legs and moulded top rails; early 18th-century. In W. part of nave—larger table of similar detail, probably early 18th-century. Miscellanea: In W. part of nave—in N.W. angle, fragment of 13th-century moulded corbel.

In the churchyard and running N. from the chancel is a rectangular sinking in the ground with a flat floor; it is said to have been a fives-court.

Condition—Fairly good.

a(2). Craswall Priory, ruined church and claustral buildings, about 1 m. N.W. of the parish church. The Priory of St. Mary was founded for the Order of Grandmont by Walter de Lacy, Lord of Ewyas Harold c. 1220–25. As an alien priory it was suppressed in the 15th century, but the buildings were apparently left standing to fall gradually into ruins or to be used as a quarry.

Craswall was the second of the three houses of the order founded in England, and as such the ruins are of unusual interest.

Craswall Priory

The Priory Church consisted of a Chancel (24½ ft. from E. to W. by 25 ft.) with a semi-circular apsidal E. end and a Nave (83½ ft. by 23½ ft.) the side walls of which are brought forward internally about 11 in. or 12 in. in front of the side walls of the chancel. At the E. end of the building the walls are now standing only 5 ft. or 6 ft. above the floor-level, but they rise in height towards the W. end of the chancel, and the side walls of the nave are about 10 ft. to 12 ft. in height.

The Apse (Plate 87) appears to have had three windows; parts of the W. splays of the two outer windows remain, and an open gap in the wall behind the altar may represent the middle window. The Chancel has in the W. end of the N. wall, immediately adjoining the break forward in the E. end of the side wall of the nave, the remains of a doorway with chamfered jambs and a semi-circular head; further E. are the remains of a large locker rebated for a door. In the S. wall, immediately opposite the N. doorway, are the remains of a similar doorway opening into the sacristy; immediately E. of it are the remains of a double piscina and three sedilia (Plate 87), one seat being on the E. of the piscina and the other, which is stepped and for two persons, on the W.; the E. jamb of the E. sedile is moulded, as is also the W. jamb of the W. sedile; the chamfered seat of the sedilia is carried up to form the sill of the piscina which has two circular drains and a central socket for an octagonal shaft; a few roll-moulded jamb-stones of the piscina remain in position. A chapel flanked the chancel on the N. side, but of this nothing remains except traces of the springer of a stone vault on the N. wall immediately E. of the N. doorway. Portions of the stone pavement and steps remain in the chancel, and standing free in the apse is the stone base of an altar, without its top slab.

The Nave has in the S. wall a doorway opening into the N. walk of the cloister, but only a few dressed stones of the E. jamb remain in situ. In the middle of the E. end of the nave is a stone coffin, below the floor-level.

The Cloister (67½ ft. by 64½ ft.) has traces of the foundations of its arcade walls. The excavated S.E. angle shows the walks to have been 10 ft. wide. The E. range consisted of the sacristy and the chapter house with a passage between them. The Sacristy had a barrel vault, and in the N. wall are the remains of a round-headed locker rebated for a door. The Passage has traces of the S. jamb of the doorway into the cloister. The Chapter House (37 ft. by 21 ft.) has the walls standing up to the lower stones of the windows (Plate 87). In the middle are the bases of two circular columns which divided the chamber into six vaulted bays; the bases have 'hold-water' mouldings on octagonal sub-bases; the three lower stones of the shaft of the southernmost column also remain. Along the E. wall is a ledge formed by a moulded string-course on which stand the lower stones of triple vaulting shafts or responds opposite the pillars; they have 'hold-water' bases, and in the N.E. angle is a single vault-shaft with apparently a plain capital and double roll base. Between the vaulting-shafts are the lower stones of three E. windows with filleted angle-rolls to the splays. In the S. wall are the remains of a doorway which may have been inserted later. In the middle bay of the W. wall is the entrance doorway from the cloister, and in each of the side bays is a window (Plate 87). The doorway has splayed jambs of two orders with an attached triple shaft to the inner order and two detached shafts on each side of the outer order; the 'holdwater' bases of all of these remain. The N. window has jambs of similar character to those of the doorway, but the outer splays are concave and the triple shafts of the inner order have the two outer shafts keeled and the middle shaft filleted; the shafts to the N. jamb have 'hold-water' bases, and those to the S. jamb have triple roll bases. The S. window is generally similar to the doorway, but the bases of the S. jamb are set at a higher level than the other on account of the rise of the dorterstair which was placed against this wall within the W. walk of the cloister. Against the S. and E. walls are traces of the original stone benches. S. of the chapter house are the remains of the Warming-House (38½ ft. by 21 ft.) or dorter sub-vault, in the W. wall of which are the remains of a doorway with chamfered jambs; projecting towards the E. from the S. end of the chamber are portions of the drain of the rere-dorter. The Frater (19 ft. wide) appears to have occupied the greater part of the southern range, but little is left except at the E. end, where part has been walled off under the dorterstair. In the S. wall of the cloister, immediately W. of the dorter-stair, are the remains of a doorway with chamfered jambs.

The W. range is now only a ruined heap of masonry, and the S.W. corner has been encroached upon by the contiguous stream which has presumably been diverted since the suppression. There are traces of the foundations of other buildings to the S.W. of the claustral block and some remains of the wall enclosing the site.

A large number of loose stones are scattered about the site, including moulded capitals and bases, windowjambs and voussoirs of vaulting-ribs. Fragments of coloured glass found on the site are now in the Museum of the Woolhope Club at Hereford.

Condition—Ruinous and much disintegrated.


(Monuments 3–16)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of two storeys. The walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with stone-slates. Some of the buildings have old chimney-stacks, exposed ceiling-beams and wide open fireplaces.

Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.

a(3). Court Farm, house and barn, ¼ m. N. of the parish church. The House is of two storeys with cellars. It is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and is built on a modified L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and S.W. In the N.E. front is an old doorway with a chamfered oak frame and nail-studded door, and in the upper part of the wall is an old three-light window with oak frame and mullions. In the S.W. wall of the N.W. wing is a doorway with an old frame. Inside the building on the ground floor in the timber-framed cross-partition in the S.W. wing is a doorway with chamfered posts, segmental head and old battened door hung on strap-hinges. Adjoining the fireplace in the N.E. room is a winding stone staircase with thick oak treads and an old battened door. The N.W. wing has lost the upper floor. On the ground floor are the remains of old timber-framed partitions. In the N.W. room is a doorway with an oak frame and segmental head. The Barn, N. of the house, is of six bays and retains three trusses of crutch type; the other trusses are later and of rough construction.

a(4). Pen-twyn, house, ½ m. W. of (3), was built in the 17th century, but has been much altered and had the N. front heightened in modern times. There are later additions on the S. and E. of the house.

a(5). Gilberts Place, house and stables, ½ m. W. of (4). The House was built early in the 17th century on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N. end; it has been altered in modern times. The Stables, W. of the house, were built in the 16th century as a small dwelling-house. In the N. wall is an original six-light window with diamond-shaped mullions and a chamfered oak frame the head and sill of which are rebated for an internal shutter. The chimney-stack has been removed and most of the large fireplace in the N. wall has also been taken down. Against a boundary wall to the S. of the house is an old alcove. It is built of rubble and has a semi-hexagonal head. It is possibly of the 17th century, but has no distinctive features.

a(6). Whiteoak Farm, house and barn, 950 yards N.N.E. of (4). The House was built probably in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and S.W. A later porch was added on the S.E. front, and there are low additions on the N.E. end and on the N.W. side of the S.W. wing. Inside the building, on the ground floor, the timber partition between the two wings has chamfered posts, narrow oak panels and a doorway with an ogee-shaped lintel and an old oak battened door. The Barn, S.E. of the house, has one side of the roof covered with stone slates and the other with corrugated iron. It is probably of 17th-century date, and has in the E. wall three doorways with old oak frames; the middle doorway has an old door divided into three vertical panels by moulded fillets; the other two doorways have rougher battened doors.

Condition—Of house, bad.

b(7). Rockyfold Farm, house and barn, 800 yards S.E. of the parish church. The House was built in the 16th century on a rectangular plan with a central projecting porch-wing on the S.E. front. A later dairy has been added at the back of the house. On the S.E. front the inner entrance doorway has heavy oak posts and lintel with a three-centred arched head below; the door is of old oak battens on which are planted fillets which originally followed the contour of the arch; the door is hung on two strap-hinges with shaped ends, and there is an old iron knocker. Inside the building, on the ground floor, the old oak partitions have heavy chamfered studs with narrow vertical panels about the same width as the studs; the two doorways opening from the entrance lobby respectively to the living-room and kitchen have flat triangular heads. The doors to the staircase and the dairy are both of old oak battens with strap-hinges. The staircase has heavy oak treads. The Barn, N.E. of the house, has the roof divided into three bays by trusses with heavy oak tie-beams and principal rafters.

b(8). Oldmill Farm, house, ¼ m. S.E. of (7), has the roof partly covered with modern slates. It was built probably in the 17th century with the wings extending towards the S. and E. Later additions have been built on the N. side and the S. wing has been heightened. Two windows in the S. wall of the E. wing have old oak frames.

b(9). Trelan Farm, uninhabited house, 700 yards E. of (8), was built probably in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. In the E. wall is an old doorway spanned by an oak lintel, and to the S. of it is an original six-light window with an oak frame and diamond-shaped mullions. Inside the building on the ground floor, parts of an original timber-framed partition remain dividing the two wings.

Condition—In ruins.

b(10). Ruinsford Farm, house, 540 yards S.E. of (9), was built on a rectangular plan possibly in the 16th century. Internal timber-work suggests that the house was originally a timber-framed building. A modern porch-wing has been added on the S.E front, a low addition has been built on the N.E. end of the house, and all the walls have been refronted with modern stone rubble. Inside the building, on both floors, are original timber partitions with stop-chamfered studs and doorposts and narrow vertical panels of oak.

b(11). Dukes Farm, house and outbuildings, 700 yards S.E. of (10), are built round three sides of a small yard. The House stands on the S.E. side of the yard and may be of 16th-century origin, but has been much altered. The Cart-shed, which was built as a cottage, stands on the N.E. side of the yard and is probably of the same date as the house, and the S.W. wing containing the dairy is probably a 17th-century addition and has an added barn at the N.W. end. In the N.E. wall of the house is a window with a 17th-century oak frame, and in the S.W. wall of the cartshed are two old windows, each of three lights with oak frames and diamond-shaped mullions; in the N.E. wall of the dairy is an old doorway with a cambered lintel joined to a window with a heavy square frame. Inside the building the door to the old staircase is of 16th or 17th-century date, and has moulded fillets planted on; a doorway leading to the N.E. wing has an oak frame with a four-centred head. The barn adjoining has been partly reconstructed, but has one original roof-truss of modified queen-post type.

b(12). White Haywood Farm, house (Plate 15), 700 yards S.W. of (11), was built on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E., probably in 1635, the date on a partition between the two wings. It is possible, however, that the E. wing may be somewhat earlier. In the E. wall of the S. wing is an original four-light window with moulded oak frame and mullions, and in the E. wall of the E. wing are two old windows, the lower of five lights with diamond-shaped mullions and the upper originally of four lights. Inside the building all the partitions on the ground floor are original; the door in the easternmost partition is battened and hung on two strap-hinges to posts which have been cut into on either side apparently to admit the passage of barrels. There is a battened door in the partition between the two wings, hung on two strap-hinges to the frame, which has a segmental lintel on which is the date 1635. The doorway in the crosspartition in the S. wing has a segmental head.

b(13). Great Blackhill Farm, house, 710 yards S.E. of (12), is built on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The main building is probably of early 17th-century date, but the E. end of the E. wing may be a little earlier. In the N. front is an old six-light window with diamond-shaped mullions, but three of these have been removed. In the E. wall of the S. wing is a combined doorway and two-light window, probably of 17th-century date. Inside the building three of the partitions on the ground floor are original and are of oak with chamfered posts and narrow vertical panels. In the easternmost partition are twin doorways, one of which has a segmental-pointed head, but the other has been widened.

b(14). Upper Cwm Farm, house, 640 yards S.E. of (13), dates probably from the 16th or 17th century, but has been much altered, and the external walls have been re-built or refaced. Inside the building, on the ground floor, are some original timber partitions of the usual local type.

c(15). Middle Blackhill Farm, house, 640 yards S. of (13), may be of 15th-century origin. It was probably a small rectangular building lengthened eastward in the 16th or 17th century when an upper storey was inserted in the original building. This upper storey has been heightened in modern times. The entrance doorway in the S. front has an old chamfered frame and battened door hung on two strap-hinges with ornamental ends. In the E. wall is a three-light window with old oak frame and mullions. Inside the building, W. of the central chimney, are two crutch-trusses one of which has had one leg cut away at the ceiling-level. In the wall dividing the earlier from the later part of the house is an original stone doorway with chamfered jambs and three-centred head. There is an old oak-framed partition with wide panels across the W. end of the building, and one doorway in the entrance lobby has an oak frame and segmental lintel.

c(16). Cwm Steps, house, barn and bakehouse, 1030 yards S.E. of (15). The House is of two storeys with attics and is a small rectangular building of early 17th-century date. A porch was added on the S.E. side probably in the 18th century, and there are modern additions on the back and S.W. end. On the S.E. front the entrance doorway has a heavy beaded frame and battened door of early 18th-century date; on the first floor is an old six-light window with an oak frame, diamond-shaped mullions and a stone label. In the N.E. wall is a similar two-light window. Inside the building are some original timber partitions of the usual local type. The doorway to the staircase has an old frame with a segmental head. The Barn, S.E. of the house, has a basement under the N.E. end. It is partly of rubble and partly timber-framed. In the N.W. wall of the basement are two doorways with old oak frames and a four-light window with diamond-shaped mullions; there is a similar window in the N.E. wall. Inside the building are four old trusses with sloping struts between the tie-beams and principal rafters. The Bakehouse, N.W. of the house, is a small rectangular building of one storey with an attic. It has a later extension on the N.E. side. In the S.E. wall is an old doorway with chamfered frame and battened door, and in the N.W. wall is a five-light window with diamond-shaped mullions.