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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46 LEA (D.f.)
(O.S. 6 in. LII, S.W.)
Lea is a small parish and village 4 m. S.E. of Ross. The church is the principal monument.
(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with some tufa in the tower; the dressings are also of sandstone and the upper stage of the tower and the spire are faced with ashlar; the roofs are tiled. The lower stage of the Tower and the W. wall of the Nave are of late 13th-century date. In the following century the upper stage of the tower was built and the spire added. The church was reconsecrated in 1418 when the chancel was probably re-built, followed by the addition of the North Aisle and North Chapel and the building of the arcade, the nave being widened towards the N. at the same time. The church was restored in 1854 when the Chancel, S. wall of the nave and the N. wall of the N. aisle were apparently re-built. The North Porch is modern.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (22¾ ft. by 16½ ft.) has been largely if not entirely re-built, but incorporates the following ancient features. In the E. wall is a 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head; the splays and rear-arch are modern. In the N. wall is a single-light window, all modern except perhaps the trefoiled head which may be of late 13th-century date. In the S. wall are two 14th-century windows each of a single trefoiled fight, with modern splays.
The Nave (31¾ ft. by 20 ft.) has a 15th-century N. arcade of three bays, with four-centred arches of one chamfered order; the octagonal columns, stopped out to a square, and semi-octagonal responds have chamfered bases and moulded capitals carved with a series of grotesque animals, faces and heads including one woman in a horned head-dress, one crowned head and one rayed; there is also a rosette, the letters I H C with a crescent, etc. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost of 15th-century date and of three trefoiled lights in a square head; the second window is of late 13th-century date and of two trefoiled lights in a two-centred head; the westernmost window is modern. A buttress against the N. wall of the tower represents the N.W. angle of the original nave and the top marks the line of the former roof.
The North Chapel (13¼ ft. by 14½ ft.) was built in the 15th century and has an E. window of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head, with casementmoulded reveals; the gable has been re-built. In the N. wall is a doorway, now blocked, with chamfered jambs and four-centred head; farther W. is the doorway to the rood-loft staircase; it has chamfered jambs and segmental head. In the W. wall is a four-centred arch of a single chamfered order; the responds are moulded and have moulded capitals.
The North Aisle (17 ft. wide) has, in the N. wall, a restored 15th-century window of three trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the N. doorway is modern. In the W. wall is a window with a re-set late 13th-century head of two trefoiled lights with a pierced spandrel.
The West Tower (7½ ft. by 10½ ft.) is of two stages with a spire. The lower stage is of late 13th-century date and has a two-centred tower-arch of one chamfered order and plain responds. The N., S. and W. walls have each a window of one trefoiled light. The 14th-century bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of one ogee-headed light. The spire is octagonal and broached at the base; the angles have moulded ribs.
Fittings—Bells: three; said to be, 2nd by John of Gloucester, c. 1350, and inscribed "Eternis annis resonet campana Johannis"; 3rd cast at Worcester, c. 1410, and inscribed "Virginis egregie vocor campana Marie." Chest: In nave—iron-bound dug-out, with cambered lid hung on three hinges, probably 13th-century. Font: of white marble, with round bowl carved with scrolled ornament and figures and with a band of Cosmatesque mosaic; shaft in form of a column, knotted in the middle and with capital carved with four rams' heads; base standing on back of carved figure of an elephant, probably S. Italian work, early 13th-century, given to the church in 1907. In garden of Castle End, octagonal bowl, said to be that of the old font; cover, now in house, of oak with turned central post and eight shaped struts, 17th century. Piscina: In N. chapel—in N. wall, recess with two-centred head and round drain, of doubtful antiquity. Plate: includes late 17th-century cup inscribed with the names of the vicar and churchwardens and a cover-paten with the date 1678. Screen (Plate 72): In W. arch of N. chapel—of four bays, including doorway, two middle bays each of two open upper lights with ogee, sub-cusped, crocketted and traceried heads; side bays each with double traceried ogee heads, close lower panels with double trefoiled and traceried heads, moulded head-beam, 15th-century, restored.
(2). The Crown Inn, on N. side of the RossGloucester road, 500 yards E. of the church, is of two storeys, partly of stone and partly timber-framed; the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. It was built in the 15th century and is of half H-shaped plan with the wings projecting towards the S.W.; there is a 17th-century addition at the back and some later outbuildings. The hall-block was heightened probably late in the 16th or early in the 17th century. The N.E. elevation has a projecting 17th-century wing of stone. Inside the building, on the ground floor, is an original moulded beam. In the N.W. end wall of the passage is an archway with a chamfered two-centred head, apparently one of the doorways in the 'screens.' The 17th-century staircase has a chamfered handrail, turned balusters and square newels with ball-finials. There are exposed beams in the kitchen and wash-house.
(3). House, nearly opposite to and S.W. of (2), at the corner of Mill Lane and the Ross-Gloucester road, is of two storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with slates. It was built early in the 18th century. The N.E. front has a projecting brick band between the storeys and a wooden eaves-cornice; the central doorway has a coved wooden hood carried on shaped brackets; it is flanked by square-headed windows with rubbed brick arches and flush frames. Above are five similar windows.
(4). Barn, at Oldmill Farm, 400 yards E.S.E. of the church, is a 17th-century stone building of four bays with a tiled roof. All four walls are pierced by ranges of loop lights.
(5). Cottage, 940 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century, but the E. end is probably a later addition.
(6). Castle End, house on the E. side of the RossGloucester road, 400 yards N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and cellars; the walls are of stone and the roofs are covered with stone-slates and slates. It was built in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E.; about 1720 a wing was added S.E. of the S. wing and the whole wing was probably re-fronted and re-roofed. The W. or front elevation, re-fronted in 1720, has some two-light stone-mullioned windows to the cellars which may be original. In the walls of the E. wing are some two-light windows of late 17th-century date with wooden mullions and transoms. Inside the building, some of the rooms have original ceiling-beams. The back staircase is of late 17th-century date and has turned balusters, square newels and moulded handrail. The main staircase is of c. 1720. In the attics are two early 17th-century panelled oak doors, one with fluted ornament in the upper panels. In the garden, N. of the house, is a 17th-century octagonal Dovecote (Plate 36) of rubble with ashlar quoins and having a pyramidal tiled roof. Internally it is circular with honeycomb nests in the upper parts of the walls. There is a square-headed doorway on the ground floor and another to the upper stage, and there appears to have originally been a floor about six to seven feet above ground level.