Kempley is a village in the N of the county, 13 miles NW of Gloucester and only half a mile from the Herefordshire border. The church has a short, barrel-vaulted chancel with and aisleless nave, both 12thc, a S porch and a 13thc W tower with a pyramid roof. A good deal of painted decoration survives on the interior odf the entire building from a height of approximately four feet upwards. This is 12thc in origin, and was whitewashed, probably at the Reformation, and rediscovered in 1872. The stone sculpture is a key monument of the Dymock School of sculpture, with work by the school on the W nave doorway, the chancel arch and E chancel window, and the S nave doorway. Dymock is just 2 miles away to the NE.
Kempley was held by Eadric and Leofric as 2 manors in 1066, and by Roger de Lacy in 1086, when it was assessed at 3 hides. Roger de Lacy rebelled against William Rufus, and his estates confiscated and transferred to his brother Hugh, who held them until his death in 1121. Hugh de Lacy might well have been the patron of the church, therefore. The manor probably remained in royal hands until c.1150 when it came into the hands of Hugh's nephew, Gilbert, who d.1163. It then passed to his son, another Hugh, and remained in the Lacy family until the male line failed in 1241.
|Height of opening||2.25m|
|Height of tympanum||0.72m|
|Thickness of tympanum||0.22m|
|Width (diameter) of tympanum||1.44m|
|Width of opening||0.97m|
Engaged nook-shafts on spurred roll, hollow bases carrying double scalloped capitals with sheathed cones and paired confronted volutes at the bottom of each cone. Neckings are plain and imposts quirked hollow chamfered. The arch is decorated with lateral centrifugal chevron on the face consisting of a quirked hollow between two rolls with a cogwheel inner edge. There is a quirked chamfered label.
|Height of opening||2.30m|
|Height of tympanum||0.81m|
|Width (diameter) of tympanum||1.28m|
|Width of opening||0.85m|
Plain square jambs carrying a monolithic tympanum with no carving except for a slim lower angle roll between the jambs. The tympanum occupies the entire available space except for a small inserted repair at the apex.
Engaged nook-shafts on spurred roll, hollow bases. They carry tall cushion capitals with angle tucks and plain neckings, and quirked hollow chamfered impost blocks. The arch has a heavy angle roll inside a hollow and another roll, and there is a chamfered label.
Engaged half-columns on tall roll hollow bases with spurs, carrying volute capitals of the Dymock type. Both capitals have losses affecting the W volutes and the imposts above them, suggesting that a screen was once installed there. Imposts are quirked chamfered. The arch has an angle roll on the W side only with a row of chip-carved saltires in squares and a hollow outside it. The E face is plain and unmoulded.
Engaged nook-shafts on bases as the 1st order, carrying tall cushion capitals with conical wedges in the angle tucks. The neckings are plain and the imposts as the 1st order. The arch is plain and unmoulded.
Engaged nook-shafts on bases as the 1st order, carrying double scallop capitals with keeled angles and sheathed cones with keeled flat leaves at their bottoms. The imposts, as the 1st order, have been roughly cut back on the W face. The arch has a row of fat centrifugal chevron on the angle, with a cogwheel edge. There is aquirked hollow chamfered label.
W. St C. Baddeley, "The History of Kempley Manor and Church, Gloucestershire", Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 36 (1913), 130-51.
J. Davies and T. Manning, Wall Painting Condition Audit, Kempley, St Mary’s Church, Gloucestershire. English Heritage Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 64/97. 1997.
E. Gethyn-Jones, The Dymock School of Sculpture, London and Chichester, 1979, 31-37 and passim.
D. W. H. Miles, M. J. Worthington and C. Groves, Tree-ring analysis of the nave roof, west door, and parish chest from the church of St Mary, Kempley, Gloucestershire. English Heritage Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 36/99. 1999.
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), 278-80.