St Michael and All Angels, Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire

Feature Sets (3)

Description

Eaton Bishop is four miles W of the centre of Hereford, set on rising ground on the S side of the Wye valley.  The church stands on a hill at the N end of the village.  Traces of settlement from the Bronze age to the Roman period have been found nearby, including Eaton Camp, an Iron age hill fort on a promontory alongside the Wye, 0.8 mile E of the present village, and a Roman road that ran N to S, passing within half a mile of the village on its W side.

St Michael’s has an aisled and clerestoried nave with a S porch, a chancel and a W tower with a broach spire.  The stocky, unbuttressed tower is 12thc, including its tower arch and bell-openings, the E of which is now visible inside the church above the lower original nave roofline.  The short broach spire is shingled and has large lucarnes at the foot of each face.  The nave clerestory, the four-bay arcades and the aisle windows date from the early 13thc.  The E bay of each aisle has been converted to a transeptal chapel, not projecting but with gabled roofs and grander windows of the early 14thc; the S with ogee-cusped tracery, the N simpler.  The chancel and its arch date from the later 13thc, and the E window with five stepped lancets with cusped heads is contemporary, although the S windows are like that of the S transept chapel.  There was a restoration in 1859-60 by John Clayton of Hereford (reseating and repairs), one in 1885 by Thomas Nicholson of Hereford (rebuilding part of E nave wall, reseating and repairs), and one in 1968 by Herbert Powell involving repairs only.

The only Romanesque work is in the tower: the tower arch and bell-openings.

History

The manor was held by Earl Harold before the Conquest, passing to William I in 1066.  William gave it to Bishop Walter of Hereford in exchange for land in Hereford and at Lydney (Glos).  In 1086 the manor consisted of five hides of ploughland, 12 acres of meadow and woodland a league long and two furlongs wide.  A mill was recorded but no church or priest.

Features

Exterior Features

Windows

1. W tower, S bell-opening

Double opening, round headed, single order.

The central shaft is rounded on its outer face and stands on a badly eroded square plinth with its base lost.  The capital is a through stone; as deep as the wall is thick, but not so broad.  It is a cushion with angle tucks, generally eroded and with its necking lost and no impost.  The arches and side jambs are plain and unmoulded.

2. W tower, W bell-opening

As (i) but better preserved.  The capital form has survived, along with part of the roll necking.  Enough of the base has survived to identify it as attic.

3. W tower, N bell-opening

As (ii) and as well preserved.

4. W tower, E bell-opening (now inside the church)

As (ii)

Interior Features

Arches

Tower/Transept arches

W tower arch

Round headed, 2 orders in arch, one in jambs. The jambs have a slight chamfer terminating in a simple stop at the top.  Imposts are quirked hollow chamfered.  Above the imposts, the arch towards the nave has two plain orders without chamfers and a plain chamfered label.

Comments/Opinions

The simple design of the tower and its narrow, unmoulded bell-openings with plain cushion capitals indicate a date around 1100 or slightly earlier.  The tower arch appears heavily restored.  Its label is not original, although the imposts are.  It seems unusually wide for an arch of 1100, and may have been opened up later.

Bibliography

  • A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 222-24.

  • Herefordshire Sites & Monuments Record 8240

  • R. K. Morris, “The Mason of Madley, Allensmore and Eaton Bishop”, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club XLI (1974), 180-97.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 124-26.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 1: South-west, 1931, 59.

Location

Site Location
Eaton Bishop
National Grid Reference
SO 443 391 
Boundaries
now: Herefordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Herefordshire
Diocese
now: Hereford
medieval: Hereford
Dedication
now: St Michael and All Angels
medieval: St Michael (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
22 June 2006