An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 2, East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1932.
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90 WESTON-UNDER-PENYARD (C.f.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)LII, N.W., (b)LII, S.W.)
Weston-under-Penyard is a parish adjoining that of Ross on the E. The church, rectory, Lower Weston, and Street House are the principal monuments.
a(1). On the Caerleon-Usk-Gloucester-Silchester road (Iter XIII), "Ariconium" is placed at a distance of eleven miles from "Blestium" (which may have been Monmouth) and fifteen miles from Gloucester. On these premises, Horsley placed Ariconium in the neighbourhood of Ross-on-Wye, and the subsequent accumulation of evidence for a fairly extensive Roman settlement at the spot known as "The Cindries," or "Cinder Hill," in the parish of Weston-under-Penyard, 3 miles E. of Ross, has encouraged the location of the name there. The ascription is probable rather than certain; it is supported by the absence of any alternative claimant, and possibly by a reminiscence of the Roman name in "Archenfield " (Domesday, "Arcenefelde"), which has since Saxon times been the name of a part of southern Herefordshire. It may be merely chance that the present deanery of Archenfield—the only connection in which the name survives in use— does not include Ross or Weston. More serious is the lack of any satisfactory trace here of the Roman main road on which Ariconium stood, though this objection is again of no real weight unless and until an alternative route be identified.
The first record of the discovery of Roman remains here relates to the enclosing and levelling of the Bury Hill, adjoining Cinder Hill, by its proprietor (a Mr. Hopkins Merrick) about 1785. "In so doing, many antiquities were found, together with an immense quantity of Roman coins and some British. Among the antiquities were fibulæ, lares, lachrymatories, lamps, rings, and fragments of tessellated pavements. Some pillars were also discovered, with stones having holes for the jambs of doors; and a vault or two, in which was wheat of a black colour, and in a cinereous state. . . . Innumerable pieces of grey and red pottery lie scattered over the whole tract. . . . The coins are chiefly of the Lower Empire. . . . Some of the large stones . . . which appear to have been used in building, display strong marks of fire. ... In widening a road that crosses the land (in 1804), several skeletons were discovered; and also the remains of a stone wall, apparently the front of a building; the stones were well worked and of considerable size. . . . The adjoining lands are thickly strewn with scoria of iron ore, some of considerable size; these, indeed, are scattered throughout this part of the country: in some places they lie in large heaps; they are most probably the produce of Roman bloomeries, and were connected with the works in the neighbouring Forest of Dean." (E. W. Brayley and J. Britton, The Beauties of England and Wales, 1805, VI, 513; W. H. Cooke, Collections towards the History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford, 1882, III, 214 ff.) Another writer refers to the discovery, at this time, of " remains of statues, heads, arms, etc. . . .; and such quantities of pieces of bronze and coins, as when sold amounted to fifteen pounds. ... It has been said that a large bronze head with ram's horns was found. That the town was a Roman Birmingham cannot be doubted, from the cinders of ore, which now remain. . . . Upon digging, the foundations of houses are still found." (T. D. Fosbroke, Ariconensia, 1821, 22 ff.) Other writers cover the same ground, but the short inventory of "finds" exhibited to the British Archæological Association on the occasion of its visit to the site in 1870 is of interest: "The coins then exhibited by Mr. Palmer consisted of one gold, six silver, and two copper British coins, some of them of Cunobelin; one hundred and eighteen silver, billon and brass Roman coins, ranging from Claudius, A.D. 41, to Magnentius, A.D. 350–3; twenty fibulæ of bronze, a silver ring, six bronze rings, bronze keys, pins and nails, four intagli (two of them Cornelian), glass beads of various colours, bronze buckles and other bronze instruments." The finding of British coins here recorded is of interest as a link between East Britain and the lands west of the Severn—a connection further exemplified by the historical account of the association of Cunobelin's son, Caractacus, with the Silures of south-western Wales in the early years of the Roman conquest.
In 1922 the excavation of a small part of the site was carried out by Mr. G. H. Jack, F.S.A. A series of trial-trenches on Cinder Hill for the most part revealed little but black earth, a little Roman pottery, and a "shapeless mass of masonry," with "material like tufa." At one spot, however, about 150 yards S.E. from the Bollitree-Bromsash road, the foundations of an oblong building were laid bare. As explored, this building was upwards of 70 ft. long, and was divided into three compartments, of which the easternmost contained two quern-stones. The walls were 18 ins. thick and were of sandstone, and had been faced internally with painted wall-plaster. Close by were slight remains (18 ft. in all) of a second building, differently orientated. It contained "the remains of a furnace, hearth or hypocaust. . . . The stonework bore evidence of heat, and there was much fine ash. . . . The stones and flags were set in and on red clay, and the clay appears to have overlain a bed of fine gravel containing small iron clinkers. ... To the E. and W. of the building were found layers of gravel resting on clay . . . but no trace of walls near. . . . The space between the two blocks of buildings was covered with clinker gravel." The pottery from the site included a fragment of Samian form 29 (before c. 85 A.D.) and half-a-dozen other Samian fragments of Flavian date; whilst a sherd of form 29 picked up near by is described as "probably pre-Flavian." Rhenish ware, probably of the 3rd century, and 4th-century imitation Samian (red-slip) pottery, was found. The coins ranged from Domitian to Constantine I, but a general list of coins found at various times on the site begins with a Republican denarius, 2 coins of Claudius I and one of Vespasian; and ends with 2 of Gratian and 2 of Valentinian I, Valens or Gratian. (G. H. Jack, Excavations on the Site of Ariconium, Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club, 1923.)
a(2). Parish Church of St. Lawrence (Plate 9) stands near the middle of the parish; the walls are of sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with tiles and stone slates. The Nave, with a N. aisle, was built late in the 12th century. The Chancel was re-built and probably lengthened in the 13th century, and in the first half of the following century was again partly re-built; about the same time the West Tower was added and the North Aisle re-built. The North Porch was added in the 14th or 15th century. The former spire was damaged by lightning and removed in 1750. The church has been extensively restored in 1867 and the South Vestry added. The floor of the chancel has been raised some two or three feet. The tower was restored in 1927.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30¼ ft. by 17½ ft.) has, in the E. wall, three graduated 13th-century lancet-windows. In the N. wall are three windows, the two eastern are 13th-century lancet-windows, the first completely and the second almost completely restored; the western window is modern. In the S. wall is a modern window, doorway and arch. The chancel-arch is modern.
The Nave (54¼ ft. by 17¾ ft.) has a late 12th-century N. arcade of four bays with round arches of two plain orders on the S. face and one order on the N. face; the cylindrical columns and E. respond have moulded capitals (Plate 16) carved with scallops or acanthusfoliage and square grooved and chamfered abaci; the square W. respond has a plain moulded capital; the moulded label on the S. face of the arcade has billet-ornament and stops carved with the head of a muzzled bear, a grotesque beast's head and a modern beast's head. E. of the arcade is a modern opening and above it a blocked opening to the rood-loft. In the S. wall are three modern windows; the S. doorway is probably of 12th-century origin but has been almost completely restored.
The North Aisle (15¾ ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a modern window. In the N. wall is a modern window, and farther W. the 14th-century N. doorway with stop-chamfered jambs and re-built head. In the W. wall is a modern window.
The West Tower (12 ft. by 11½ ft.) is of mid 14th-century date and of four stages with a moulded plinth and modern embattled parapet. The two-centred tower-arch is of three chamfered orders, the two outer continuous and the inner springing from moulded head-corbels. The much restored W. window is of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The second stage has, in the W. wall, a window of one square-headed light. The third stage has, in the W. wall, a similar window. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the angles of this stage are corbelled across to support the former spire.
The North Porch was built in the 14th or 15th century and is of timber; the outer posts, cross-beam and braces and some of the roof-timbers are original; the rest has been re-built.
The Roof of the nave is of the 14th century and of five unequal bays with scissor-trussed rafters and moulded tie-beams, two of which are modern; the moulded central purlin and tie-beams are early 16th-century insertions. The 14th-century roof of the N. aisle is of five bays with braced collar-beams, chamfered tie-beams and wall-plates.
Fittings—Bells: six; 1st, 2nd and 3rd by Abraham Rudhall, 1704. Brass and Indent. Brass: see Monument (1). Indent: In churchyard—S. of church, defaced. Doors: In doorways of turret-staircase to tower—three, one panelled and two battened, 14th-century. Font: In churchyard—with round moulded bowl and moulded base, 17th-century. Lockers: In chancel—in N. wall, with rebated jambs and round head, 13th-century. In second stage of tower—in S. wall, with rebated jambs and square head, 14th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In nave —on S. wall, (1) of Walter Nurse, 1609–10, moulded stone panel enclosing brass figure of man, kneeling at prayer-desk, with inscription-plate. In churchyard— N. of nave, (2) to John Rudg, senior, 1712, head-stone with scrolled top; (3) to John, son of Thomas Rudge, 17—, head-stone with scrolled top; (4) to Thomas Merick, 1694, head-stone with scrolled top; S. of nave, (5) to John [Tip]pens, 1697, head-stone with cherubs and scrolled top; (6) to Joyce, wife of John Tippens, 1694–5, head-stone with scrolled top; (7) to William Winniatt, 1650, and Elizabeth his wife, 1674, flat slab; (8) to Philip, 1690, Anne, 1712, and Philip, 1719 (?), children of John Nourse. Floor-slabs: In churchyard —S. of chancel, (1) to Debora, wife of John Rudge, 1712; (2) to Ruth, wife of James Rudge, 1694. Niche: in N.W. buttress of tower—with restored jambs and square chamfered head, 16th-century. Recess: In N. porch—E. of N. doorway, rough square-headed recess, low down in wall, date uncertain. Sundial: on re-used stone by S. doorway, scratched dial. Miscellanea: in E. splay of middle N. window of chancel—part of respond-capital with carving representing a beast devouring a man, 12th-century; re-used in same wall, fragment of 12th-century cheveron-ornament; near the S. doorway is a similar fragment and above the N. doorway are two 12th-century head-stops, one a ram's head.
Condition—Good, much restored.
a(3). Baptist Chapel, at Ryeford, about ¾ m. S.E. of the church, is of plastered rubble with a slate roof. It was built probably at the end of the 17th century and consists of a single apartment with square-headed windows and doorway; the doorway has an original panelled door. Inside the building is a gallery carried on a chamfered beam and an octagonal post.
Condition—Good, much altered.
a(4). Wayside Cross, on the W. side of the road at Kingstone, nearly 1 m. N. of the church, retains only its large square base of mediæval date, with rounded upper angles. There is no socket for the shaft.
a(5). The Rectory, 800 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are of rubble and ashlar and the roofs are tiled. The house has remains, mainly on the E. side, of an early 17th-century building, but the main block and the N.E. wing were built late in the 17th century, with stone from Penyard Castle. The W. front is ashlar-faced and symmetrically designed with square-headed windows and a cove under the eaves. The basement has a range of windows, probably of early 17th-century date. The front doorway is modern, but above it is an oval panel with two cherub-heads, a dove and a book with the words "Dominus illuminatio mea." Parts of the N. and S. fronts are similar in character to the W. front. Inside the building the hall has some exposed ceiling-beams and the staircase has some mid 17th-century panelling. A room on the first floor has an early 17th-century plaster ceiling with moulded panels and fleurs-de-lis in the angles.
a(6). Bollitree Castle, house and barns, 1,000 yards N.N.E. of the church. The House is modern, but incorporates a considerable amount of old material of various dates. The two Barns, E. of the house, are of 17th-century origin, converted into a sham Gothic castle, probably about the middle of the 18th century. They incorporate some old material said to have been brought from Penyard Castle and from a church in Bristol; this material includes 13th-century mouldings, two 15th-century corbels with angels holding shields, some 17th-century doorways and a door dated 1627. Near by is the square base of a village or churchyard cross, with rounded upper angles. Inside the building are five 16th or 17th-century scrolled brackets carved with acanthus-foliage and heads.
a(7). Lower Weston (Plate 20), house and outbuildings, 700 yards N.W. of the church. The House is of three storeys with cellars; the walls are of sandstone ashlar and timber-framing and the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1600, but incorporates, at the S. end of the S. wing, remains of an earlier timber-framed building. The plan is L-shaped with the wings extending towards the E. and S. The W. front (Plate 187) is symmetrically arranged with moulded string-courses between the storeys and a central three-storeyed porch, flanked by projecting bay-windows carried up to the eaves. The porch has a round-headed outer archway, with moulded imposts, archivolt and square label; above it is a cartouche-of-arms and crest of Nourse; the windows, both of the porch and side bays, have square heads and moulded jambs and mullions; above each bay-window is a gabled dormer enclosing a three-light window with a square moulded label. The other fronts have windows, etc., of a similar character and the N. front has a gable at each end, and each enclosing a window with a square moulded label. Inside the building the Hall has original moulded ceiling-beams and exposed joists; the adjoining room on the N. has a fireplace with a moulded surround and a cartouche-of-arms and crest of Nourse; the S. room, on the other side of the hall, has exposed ceiling-beams and a fireplace with moulded stone jambs and four-centred head; the room is lined with panelling partly of c. 1600 and partly of c. 1700. The existing staircase is modern but incorporates the original moulded handrail and square newels with shaped terminals. The E. wing has some original moulded ceiling-beams. On the first floor, the N.W. room has early and late 17th-century panelling; the S. room has a fireplace of c. 1700 set in the original four-centred opening; the early 17th-century overmantel is of three panelled bays divided by fluted pilasters. The roof over the middle part of the house is of collar-beam type, strengthened in 1769; that over the S. room is partly of 15th-century date with very heavy timbers.
The Garden has brick walls on a stone plinth of c. 1600. An inner wall forms, with the wings of the house, an enclosed courtyard. The gateway, by the S.E. angle of the house, and the S. gate (Plate 37) of the garden have square piers with moulded cappings; the early 18th-century wrought-iron gates have the arms and crest or the crest alone of Nourse. The Barn (Plate 35), N. of the house, is of mid 16th-century date, with an addition of c. 1600 at the W. end. The walls are mainly of rubble with loop-lights and the roof is of five bays and of queen-post type. The Stable, N.W. of the barn, is of rubble and of two storeys. In the E. wall is a square-headed doorway with an oval panel above it, with the date 1709.
a(8). Street House (Plate 20) and barns, 400 yards N. of the church. The House is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with tiles and stone slates. It was built early in the 17th century, but the front was remodelled and an addition made at the N. end c. 1711; there are later 18th-century and modern additions on the N., S. and W. The E. front of the main building is symmetrically designed and has square-headed windows with solid frame, mullion and transom; in the middle, below the eaves, is an oval panel with the initials and date, I. and E.M. 1711; in the roof are three gabled dormers. The basement has an original square-headed window of stone. Inside the building the S.E. room is lined with early 18th-century panelling; the staircase is of the same date and has turned balusters and moulded hand-rails.
The Barn, S. of the house, is of two storeys and of early 17th-century date; the walls are of rubble with several original windows. The segmental-headed S. doorway has an original door with ornamental strap-hinges. The Barn, N. of the house, is of late 17th or early 18th-century date. The rubble walls are pierced by loop-lights.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with tiles or slates. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and old chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good, or fairly good.
a(9). Cottage, on the N. side of the churchyard, is partly of timber-framing, which is exposed on the N. and S. sides.
a(10). Cottage, on the W. side of the road, 300 yards N.N.E. of the church, is partly of timber-framing, which is exposed on the N. and part of the E. wall.
a(11). Cottage, two tenements, on the W. side of the road at Kingstone, nearly 1 m. N. of the church, is of two storeys with cellars and attics and is dated 1700. The E. front is ashlar-faced and has numerous masons' marks. The roof is of unusual construction, being of a rude hammer-beam type with braces below and struts between the hammer-beams and collar.
a(12). Cherry Orchard, cottage, 120 yards N.N.W. of (11), is partly timber-framed with brick nogging.
a(13). Cottage, on the E. side of the road, 40 yards S.W. of the church, has a panel in the W. wall, with the initials and date: I. and H. T. 1698.
b(14). Cottage, on the N. side of the road at Pontshill Marsh, nearly 1 m. S.E. of the church, is possibly of mediæval origin, but was largely re-built in the 17th century; the roof is thatched. In the W. end is exposed framing showing a late development of the mediæval crutch-construction.
b(15). House, on the E. side of the road, 160 yards S.W. of (14), has been partly re-built. The W. half is original and has ashlar dressings and a shaped finial to the gable; the windows have late 17th-century frames with wooden mullions and transoms.