St Leonard, Ribbesford, Worcestershire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SO 787 740
now (or name of monument): St Leonard
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church
II General Description
Built of red sandstone ashlar, the church has a nave with N and S aisles, the former rebuilt in 1877 but with some 12thc. masonry, the latter of timber and dating from the 15thc., a chancel, also rebuilt in 1877, and a timber porch dated 1633. Romanesque sculpture is found in the S and N doorways, the former reset, and on various carved fragments, reset in the S nave wall inside the church, and as lintels in the exterior chancel wall.
III Exterior Features
(i) S doorway, nave
First order: nook shafts directly on square plinths. Plain worn necking on R, eroded carved capitals (see below), carved imposts lying flush with the capitals, but too weathered to enable the carving to be identified, and lost on the N face. Carved panels on the jambs adjacent to the capitals.
L capital: very badly weathered, but a loop with a central row of drilled holes flanked by grooves, similar to that of the interlace on the N doorway capitals, is visible at the lower N corner of the block. The carved panel to the N bears interlace, now severely eroded.
R capital: S face badly weathered. W face has a lower row of upright leaves with beaded ribs, a larger one at the angle; above a ribbed leaf rises up the face and furls to R into an angle volute. The carved panel on the adjacent jamb is weathered, but appears to bear a bird.
(ii) N doorway, nave
Round-headed, one order, with carved monolithic tympanum. The tympanum has an integral plain lintel and is carved with an archer leaning forwards and facing R, aiming an arrow at a monstrous quadruped with small head and fish's tail. Beneath is a lean quadruped, possibly a hound, running L. The figures are set on a ground carved with square beading, running in all directions. Following the arch is a row of chip-carved saltires.
First order (supporting both tympanum and archivolt): nook shafts directly on later plinths; plain neckings, carved block capitals and carved chamfered imposts, with carved panels flanking the capitals on the jambs inside and out (see below).
L capital: carved with interlace, possibly two serpents, but the upper part of the capital has losses at the angle. The broad straps or bodies have a row of drilled holes down the centre with a groove at each side. Beginning at the angle, the straps twist to R and L to form an irregular figure-of-eight — the larger loop in the centre of each face and the smaller loops interlocking at the angle above the necking — then turning to form a loop at the lower outer angles of the block and returning to the angle around the edge. Above, beneath the impost, are diagonal rows of square beading, similar to the tympanum field. The impost bears four rows of square billet on the face, three on the N side chamfer; losses at the angle. Below, on the N face, is a band of guilloche. The adjacent block to the E is carved with a large bird perched on the back of a smaller one and pecking its head, with a fish or amphibian above and below. The block to the S, adjacent to the door, is carved with a double ring-knot, formed from a double strand, but cut at the R edge to accommodate the ironwork of the door.
R capital: carved with continuous interlace similar to the L capital, but the strap passes back through the main loops on each face before returning to the angle. The impost bears two rows of zig-zag on the face, the upper row with losses at the angle. One row of saw-tooth ornament on the chamfered edge, and a band of guilloche below. The adjacent block to the W bears a small beaded ring in the centre, from which issue four trailing ribbons, alternately passing over and under the three concentric circles surrounding the ring. The panel to the S, cut back on its L edge, bears a regular design of double-stranded interlace. Fat nook roll in the arch. Traces of white paint on all the carved surfaces of the doorway.
|h. of opening||2.1 m|
|w. of opening||0.91 m|
|h. of tympanum||0.56 m|
|w. of tympanum||1.21 m|
|d. of tympanum||0.115 m|
|h. incl. necking||0.29 m|
|h. without necking||0.255 m|
|max. w. of N face||0.178 m|
|max. w. of W face||0.178 m|
3. Exterior Decoration
(i) Lintel, S chancel wall
Lintel of reset 16thc. window head in the S chancel wall, composed of two reset carved stones. On the face of the L stone are two rows of chip-carved saltires within squares, with one row on the chamfered edge below. The R stone bears a running scroll on the face and an undulating stem with scrolling tendrils on the chamfer.
(ii) Lintel, N chancel wall
Lintel of reset 16thc. window head in the N chancel wall, composed of two reset carved stones. The L bears an undulating three-stranded stem alternating with two-stranded knots on both face and chamfer, the R a plain undulating stem with furled leaves on a pellet ground, also on both face and chamfer.
IV Interior Features
5. Interior Decoration
(i) Roll, S nave wall
A thick and gently curving roll, 1.22 m long.
(ii) Carved stone, S wall nave
A single stone, also gently curving, carved with four point-to-point chevrons.
(iii) Shaft sections, S wall nave
Two sections of cylindrical shaft, decorated with overall three-stranded plaiting.
(iv) Shaft, S wall nave
(v) Fragment, S wall nave
(vi) Fragment, S wall nave
(vii) Three arcading fragments, S wall nave
Two manors of Ribbesford are mentioned in the Domesday Survey, both berewicks of Kidderminster and belonging to the Crown. They were granted to the Mortimers of Wigmore, and thereafter only a single manor is mentioned. Walter de Ribbesford was the tenant in the mid-12thc. Simon de Ribbesford, Roger Mortimer's steward, held the manor in 1176. The advowson belonged to the manor.
Panels carved with birds appear at Earls Croome, among other places; according to Stratford in Pevsner 1968 (249, fn.), this is a Herefordshire motif. There are also affinities with work at Rock (cf. the scrolling foliage on the reset fragments with imposts on the Rock chancel arch). The reset fragments could perhaps come from the dismembered S doorway, from a chancel arch (the curved fragments (i) and (ii), see para. IV.5.c above) or from the E bays of the N nave arcade, rebuilt in 1877 but said to be 'Norman' (VCH, 4:313). According to the VCH the sections of shaft decorated with overall three-stranded plaiting (para.IV 5c. (iii) above) came from a stone altar, lying beneath the pavement by the N aisle E window. Similar shafting appears at Shobdon and Kilpeck.
- C. J. Bond, 'Church and Parish in Norman Worcestershire' in J. Blair (ed.) Minsters and Parish Churches. The Local Church in Transition 950-1200, ed J. Blair, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology Monograph 17. Oxford 1988, 119-58, 149, 154.
- C.E. Keyser, Norman Tympana and Lintels. London 1904, xliii, 37, fig. 68.
- N.Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Worcestershire. Harmondsworth 1968, 45, 249.
- The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Worcestershire, vol. 4. London 1924, 306, 312-13.