An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 3, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1934.

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'Lyonshall', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 3, North West, (London, 1934) pp. 140-144. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)XVII, N.E., (b)XVII, S.E., (c)XVIII, N.W., (d)XVIII, S.W.)

Lyonshall is a large parish adjoining Kington on the E. The church, Lyonshall Castle and the remains of Offa's Dyke, are the principal monuments.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels (Plate 8) stands in the middle of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material and the roofs are covered with stone slates. The W. wall of the Nave is of late 12th-century date, when it appears to have formed the W. wall of a former tower. The North Aisle and arcade of five bays were added about the middle of the 13th century, and later in the same century another bay was added at the W., probably with a view to the removal of the early tower. Later in the century the Chancel was re-built and the North Transept and a small South Transeptal Chapel were added. The South Aisle of five bays was built about 1330–40 when the small S. chapel was absorbed in a larger South Transept at the E. end of the aisle. The wall forming the present sixth bay of the arcade was left solid, and it may have been after this that the original tower was demolished and the lowest stage of the present West Tower was built, the original tower-arch being re-set in the W. wall of the nave. The upper storeys of the tower were probably of timber until the rebuilding of 1822. The clearstorey was added soon after the S. aisle was built, and the North Vestry, now the Organ-Chamber, is approximately of the same period. The second stage of the tower bears the date 1822, and the top part was added in 1872–3, when also the S. aisle and arcade were lengthened by one bay to the W. The South Porch is also modern.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (30 ft. by 17 ft.) has a late 13th-century E. window of three plain pointed lights, with the mullions carried up to the two-centred head to form the middle light; the splays are moulded and the rear-arch has shouldered springing stones; there is a moulded label. In the N. wall is a modern arch; flanking it are two late 13th-century windows each of two trefoiled lights with a trefoiled rear-arch. In the S. wall are two similar windows, but the western has an ordinary rear-arch; the doorway, of the same date, has chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed head. The late 13th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner dying on to the responds.

Lyonshall the Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels

The Organ-Chamber has no ancient features.

The Nave (63½ ft. by 17¾ ft.) (Plate 13) has, in the E. wall, above the chancel-arch, two square-headed windows of one and two lights respectively; on the gable is a sanctus bell-cote. The mid 13th-century N. arcade is of six bays; the eastern five bays have two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the piers are quatre-foiled with minor shafts in the angles and have moulded capitals and bases; there is some foliage on the minor shafts of the second and third capitals; the responds have attached half-piers. The sixth bay is a later insertion and has responds without the minor shafts and slightly different capitals and bases. The early to mid 14th-century S. arcade is similar in general arrangement to the N. arcade but the W. bay is modern; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders, and the columns are octagonal with moulded capitals and chamfered bases; the responds have attached half-columns; above the first column is a re-set corbel carved with a grotesque man's head. The 14th-century clearstorey has, on each side, four restored windows, each of one trefoiled light.

The North Transept (15 ft. by 14 ft.) is of late 13th-century date. In the E. wall is a window of one trefoiled light. In the N. wall is a window of three cinque-foiled lights in a two-centred head with a moulded label.

The North Aisle (7½ ft. wide) had, in the N. wall, four windows all modern except the third, which is of late 13th-century date and of one trefoiled light. In the W. wall is a late 12th-century window, probably re-set; it is of one small round-headed light.

The South Aisle (8¾ ft. wide) incorporates the S. transept which is gabled towards the S. The E. window is modern. In the S. wall are four windows; the easternmost is similar to the N. window of the N. transept but is partly restored and has no label; it was set in a small gable now incorporated in the larger and later gable; the other windows are modern; the 14th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred head of two chamfered orders. In the W. wall is a modern lancet with a few re-used angle stones inside.

The West Tower (17 ft. by 11¾ ft.) is of four stages with an embattled parapet. The lowest stage with the high battering plinth may be of the 14th or 15th century; the upper stages are of 1822; the date on the S. wall of the second stage, and the top of the Tower, is of 1872–3. The thick E. wall is probably the W. wall of a late 12th-century tower and has a window of that date and of one round-headed light opening towards the W.; below it is a re-set tower-arch of the same date, two-centred and of two chamfered orders with chamfered imposts. The N. and S. walls of the ground stage have each two single-light windows with triangular heads; there is also a modern doorway in the S. wall; in the W. wall is a modern window. Within the ground stage of the tower are six timber posts with head-beams which probably formed part of an earlier timber tower.

The Roof of the organ-chamber of two bays has three collar-beam trusses, the middle truss with arched braces and the others with tie-beams against the end walls; the purlins have trefoiled wind-braces; it is probably of the 14th century. The 14th-century roof of the N. transept is of trussed-rafter type with king-post trusses forming two bays; between the transept and aisle is a curved and moulded brace of the same date. Against the S. wall of the S. transept is a 14th-century moulded beam.

Fittings—Bracket: In N. transept—in N. wall, plain corbel-bracket. Font (Plate 57): octofoiled bowl and capitals carved with stiff-leaf foliage, mid 13th-century, stem and base modern. Monuments: In N. transept— on W. wall, (1) to James Lloyd, 1693, stone and marble tablet with moulded frame, scrolls and curved pediment with shield-of-arms. In S. aisle—(2) freestone effigy of man in long cloak, left hand on breast and right hand holding cloak, remains of sword (?) on left side, probably 13th-century, head missing and figure much weathered. Piscinæ: In chancel—recess with chamfered jambs, trefoiled head and sex-foiled drain, late 13th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, recess with trefoiled head and quatre-foiled drain, 14th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1571, with that date on the handle of the paten. Recesses: In chancel— in N. wall, locker. In N. transept—in S. wall, plain rectangular recess. Table: In nave—with turned legs and shaped top-rails incised with line-ornament, early 17th-century, shortened.



a(2). Lyonshall Castle, ruins and earthworks, immediately N.E. of the churchyard, consists of an inner and nearly circular enclosure comprising the keep and bailey, a rectangular outer enclosure comprising the inner enclosure and land to the N. and E. and a further small enclosure on the N. side. Though not actually mentioned in Domesday the castle was probably established not long after the Conquest. It appears to have belonged in succession to the families of Lacy, Devereux and Vere, and again to that of Devereux. In 1404 Walter, 5th Lord Fitzwalter, had orders to fortify it against the Welsh. The inner enclosure of about ¾ acre is surrounded by a wet moat and approached by a modern bridge on the S.E. which may represent the original entrance. The enclosure was further defended by a curtain wall which is carried in semi-polygonal form round the keep on the N. side. This portion is still standing in places to a height of 8 ft., and at its W. end are remains of a blocked doorway; two small projections towards the N.E. probably supported a projecting garde-robe. There are fragmentary remains of the curtain on the E. side of the enclosure rising in places to a height of 19 ft. On the W. side the curtain is represented only by interrupted mounds, and even these are absent on the S. side. The cylindrical Keep (37 ft. in external diameter) stands on a low platform with remains of a retaining wall on the S.W. The keep-walls stand only to a height of about 5 ft. and have a splayed string-course and a battered plinth; there are remains of three windows towards the N. and a broad gap towards the S., probably representing the entrance. There is little evidence to date the masonry of either the keep or curtain, but both probably belong to the 13th century. Traces of a building exist on the W. side of the enclosure, no doubt built against the curtain on that side. There is a well towards the E. side of the enclosure. The outer enclosure or bailey is protected by a moat and outer bank on the N.W. and N.E. sides and by a scarp only on the S.E. The N.W. moat is continued on the side of a second and smaller enclosure to the N.E., now occupied by farm buildings and having remains of a moat also on the S.E. The line of the enclosure on the N.E. has been obliterated.


Monuments (3–19)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and with tile, stone or slate-covered roofs. Most of the buildings have exposed external timber-framing and internal ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

a(3). The Wharf, now three tenements, 80 yards S. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and S. The E. wing is of mediæval origin and has remains of two original crutch-trusses. The S. wing was probably added in the 17th century.

a(4). Cottage, on the S.W. side of the road, 200 yards S.E. of the church, has a thatched roof.

c(5). George Inn, in the village, on the N. side of the road-junction, ½ m. S.E. of the church, was built c. 1600. The upper storey formerly projected on the S.W. side but has been under-built.

c(6). Maidenhead Inn, and adjoining house, S.W. of and opposite to (5), have been much altered at various dates but incorporate, in the W. part, a 15th-century building. The upper storey of this building projects on the E. side with a moulded bressummer and close-set framing below, all now included in the central passageway of the house. The E. part of the house is a 16th and 17th-century addition.

c(7). House, 20 yards S.W. of (6), has a cross-wing at the S.W. end.

d(8). House, 150 yards S.W. of (7), formed part of a larger building. It is of mediæval origin and has a crutch-truss in the N.E. end.


Lyonshall Castle

c(9). Houses, in the S. angle of the road-fork, 50 yards S.W. of (6), have been partly refaced in brick.

c(10). Cottage, on the N.W. side of the road, 130 yards N.E. of (5), had a projecting upper storey supported on curved brackets.

c(11). Brook Farm, house, ¾ m. N.E. of the church, was practically re-built late in the 18th or early in the 19th century.

c(12). Cottage, on the W. side of the road at Lewis Wych, about 1 m. N.N.E. of the church, has an addition on the S. side.

c(13). Rhyse Farm, house, about 1¼ m. E.N.E. of the church, is largely modern, but the S.E. wing is of the 17th century.

d(14). Lower Holme Farm, house, 1 m. S.E. of the church, has been largely re-built and refaced with modern brick. The S. side retains part of an original moulded beam at the first floor level.

d(15). Holme Farm, house and outbuilding, 280 yards S.E. of (14). The House is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the S.W. end. There is a modern addition at the N.W. end of the cross-wing. The Out-building, S. of the house, has diagonal framing in the gable.

d(16). Upper Holme Farm, house, ¼ m. S.E. of (14), is probably of two dates in the 17th century, the N.W. wing being the later.

b(17). Elsdon, house, nearly 1¼ m. S.S.W. of the church, has been re-built, but incorporates some 17th-century moulded ceiling-beams. Inside the building is some panelling of the same date with a fluted frieze.

a(18). Penrhos Court, nearly 1 m. W. of the church, has been refaced with stone in the 18th century.

a(19). Parkstile, cottage, nearly 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, has been heightened in the 18th century.

N.B.—For Offa's Dyke, see p. xxx.