St John the Baptist and St Alkmund, Aymestrey, Herefordshire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SO 426 651
now (or name of monument): St John the Baptist and St Alkmund
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church
II General Description
The 12thc. church consisted of a chancel and an aisleless nave. The present chancel includes two original plain windows of tufa; that in the S wall is blocked but the window in the N wall is still open. The nave has N and S arcades of three bays, supported on square piers with shafted angles. According to RCHM (3:9) the piers are of late 12thc. material, reused. Romanesque sculpture is found on a corbel set into the interior chancel wall; the plain font also contains some 12thc. work.
IV Interior Features
5. Interior Decoration
(i) Reset corbel, chancel, S wall
Built into the interior S wall of the chancel is a corbel in the shape of an animal's head, decorated with parallel bands carved with nailhead. Holding the lower part of the head are two human hands. The underside of the corbel is in the form of a flat disc, carved with a human face with curling hair and moustache.
|h. of corbel||0.19 m|
|diameter of disc||0.10 m|
Both the bowl and the base are modern but the cylindrical stem of grey sandstone is of late 12thc. date. It has a double roll moulding at the bottom.
Before the Conquest Aymestry formed part of the huge estates held by Queen Edith. By 1086, Ralph de Mortimer of Wigmore Castle had been granted lands there and the Wigmore Chronicle (422) recounts that his son Hugh gave the benefice of the church of Aymestrey to Odo, son of Oliver de Merlimond, the founder of Shobdon. Shobdon at that time (2nd quarter of the 12thc.) was subject to the church of Aymestrey but it was freed from this dependency on payment of two shillings annually. While the dedication of the church to St John the Baptist is not surprising - there are over 500 such dedications in the country (Bond, 41) - that to St Alkmund is unusual, Aymestrey being one of the four listed by Bond (215).
Benefice of Kingsland with Eardisland, Aymestrey and Leinthall Earles.
Neither the RCHME nor Pevsner mention the corbel so it may have come to light quite recently. Pevsner (68) suggests that the nave piers were made of stones brought from Wigmore Abbey and it is also likely that the corbel came from the same source. Its height is very similar to those of a number of corbels surviving from the Abbey, reused at Adforton, and the style also compares well with the sculptures from that site. A date for the corbel in the 1170s is therefore most likely.
- F. Bond, Dedications of English Churches, Ecclesiastical Symbolism, Saints and Emblems, Oxford University Press, 1914, 41.
- Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 6941. Now available online at http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/db.php/p
- G. Marshall, 'Fonts of Herefordshire'. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 1951.
- N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 68-9.
- RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire 3, 1934, 9-11.