St John the Evangelist, Pauntley, Gloucestershire

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Feature Sets (3)


Pauntley is in the Leadon valley in N Gloucestershire, immediately S of the Malvern Hills and 10 miles W of Tewkesbury. The parish is centred on the church and Pauntley Court; beyond this settlement is dispersed. The church has a Norman chancel (the E window splay survives) with a S chapel, a 12thc nave with a N porch, and a W tower.  Romanesque sculpture by the Dymock School sculptors is found on the S doorway and the chancel arch.


Pauntley was held by Ansfrid de Cormeilles in 1086, and by Wulfhelm and Alweard in 1066. Pauntley was assessed at 1½ hides, but it was grouped with Kilcot, Ketford and Hayes to form a total holding for Ansfrid of 4½ hides.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Round headed, 2 orders with tympanum.

Height of opening 2.23m
Height of tympanum and lintel 0.75m
Thickness of tympanum 0.19m
Width of opening 1.12m
Width of tympanum (with lugs) 1.60m
1st order

Plain square jambs carrying a tympanum with an integral lintel. The tympanum is in two blocks. The upper part is a segment of a circle, while the lower is a monolithic block that includes the lintel, decorated with a row of chip-carved diamonds in circles, and the enclosing arch springers, which are projecting lugs, as well as the tympanum itself which is decorated with an overall pattern of overlapping fishscale ornament. The arch, otherwise made of voussoirs, has a row of heavy beading between an angle roll and a face roll.

2nd order

Engaged nook-shafts on worn, tall attic bases carrying volute capitals of the characteristic Dymock school type, having a large volute on the main angle with a leaf with stepped edges suspended from its tip.  The volute is flanked by three vertical striations to each side, running the full height of the capital, and small bilobed leaves rise from the necking to either side of the main angle.  The imposts are hollow chamfered with an angle roll above the chamfer and two further rolls on the vertical face. The arch is carved with lateral, centrifugal chevron on the face, consisting of an angle roll, a quirked hollow, and a thinner face roll towards the extrados. There is a cogwheel inner edge. The label is quirked chamfered with a single row of roll billet on the chamfer.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Round headed, 2 orders to E and W

1st order (shared)

Engaged half-columns on spurred roll/hollow bases of which only the S is original. They carry volute capitals of the standard Dymock school type (see S doorway) but both are modern replacements. The imposts, also replaced, are hollow chamfered with a row of cusping on the face.

The arch has an angle roll to the W, with a face hollow and a row of chip-carved saltires in squares outside it. The E face is plain and unmoulded.

2nd order, (E face)

Plain square jambs carry a plain chamfered impost. The arch is plain and unmoulded.

2nd order (W face)

Engaged nook-shafts on spurred roll/hollow bases, carry capitals carved with large, grotesque masks with pointed ears, drilled, almond-shaped eyes with surrounding lids, broad noses and wide mouths with tongues projecting. Stems issue from the corners of the mouth, forming a symmetrical tangle terminating in furled leaves. Neckings are plain rolls and the imposts as the 1st order.

The arch is carved with lateral, centrifugal chevron on the face, consisting of an angle roll, a quirked hollow, and a thinner face roll towards the extrados. There is a cogwheel inner edge. The label is quirked hollow chamfered.


Pauntley belongs to the school of sculptors that was first examined in detail in George Zarnecki’s thesis under the name of the Bromyard Group, but was more fully analysed by the Rev. Eric Gethyn-Jones, who renamed it after Dymock (qv), which stands at the centre of the main geographical distribution of its output.  At Pauntley the S doorway tympanum with lugs forming pseudo-voussoirs at the lower sides, is a typical feature of the School, as is the distinctive type of volute capital with striations flanking the main volute and a stepped leaf.

Gethyn-Jones dated the work at Pauntley to c.1125-45.   Zarnecki dated the school as a whole to the early second quarter of the 12thc, perhaps shortly after 1120.  Thurlby is largely interested in the school as it relates to the better-known Herefordshire School, which which it shares such technical features as the form of the tympana.


  • E. Gethyn-Jones, The Dymock School of Sculpture, London and Chichester 1979.

  • M. Thurlby, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture, Logaston 1999, 20-23 and passim.

  • Victoria County History: Gloucestershire 12, 2010.

  • D. Verey, The Buildings of England. Gloucestershire: the Vale and the Forest of Dean, London 1970 (2nd ed. 1976), 320-21.

  • G. Zarnecki, Regional Schools of English Sculpture in the Twelfth Century: the Southern School and the Herefordshire School. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London, 1950, 223-28.

Exterior from SW
Interior to E.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SO 749 289 
now: Gloucestershire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Gloucestershire
medieval: Hereford
now: Gloucester
now: St John the Evangelist
medieval: St John the Evangelist (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
6 June 2009