St Philip and St James, Tarrington, Herefordshire

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Feature Sets (3)


Tarrington is a village 6 miles E of Hereford and a silar distance W of Ledbury on the A438. The church is in the centre of the village, and consists of 12thc nave and chancel, originally with an apsidal E end, a N aisle by Edward Pritchard of 1835-36, a S porch by C Ford Witcombe of 1901, and a 16thc W tower. There was a major restoration by F. R.Kempson in 1871-72. Romanesque work is found in the N chancel windows, the enormous chancel arch, the tower arch and the N and S nave doorways


Tarrington was held as 2 manors by Alweald and Earnwig in 1066, and by Ansfrid de Cormeilles in 1086. It was assessed at 3 hides. The manor passed with the Honour of Cormeilles until the death of Walter of that name without a male heir in the early 13thc, and thereafter the holdings were divided between his daughters.


Exterior Features


N nave doorway

The blocked N doorway is of 2 orders with a tympanum.

Height of main tympanum block 0.54 m
Height of tympanum (radius) 0.71 m
Width of tympanum (diameter) 1.50 m
Height of opening 2.24 m
Width of opening 1.00 m
1st order

Plain square jambs carry a heavy tympanum in 3 blocks; the lowest, of full width, occupies all of the available space except for a small segment at the top which is filled with 2 small shapes blocks. There is no ornament on the surface.

2nd order

Engaged nook-shafts on tall roll hollow bases with roll neckings; the E base original and the W a replacement. The E capital is a double scallop with sheathed cones and the shields outlined by grooves. The W capital is a triple scallop with plain shields and double sheathed cones giving the appearance of 2 rows of zigzag at the foot of the bell. Both capitals have thin roll neckings and quirked hollow chamfered imposts. The arch is plain and unmoulded, and there is a quirked hollow chamfered label whose ends fall on the impost blocks.

S nave doorway

The S doorway is round headed and of 2 orders under a later porch.

Height of opening (to pavement) 2.54 m
Height of opening (to top of step) 2.42 m
Width of opening 1.21 m
1st order

Plain and continuous and largely replaced.

2nd order

Nook-shafts of which the W is engaged and the E engaged in its upper section with a detached replacement shaft for its lower part. The E base is a modern replacement of the same type as the N doorway bases, while the E base is eroded away. These shafts carry capitals: the W double scalloped with sheathed cones and recessed shields; and the E figural with a standing human figure, apparently naked, on the W face holding the head of a saddled horse shown in L profile on the S face. Both capitals have badly cipped thin roll neckings and quirked hollow chamfered imposts. The arch is plain and unmoulded, and any label is concealed by the porch roof.


Chancel N wall central window

The exterior is round headed and of a single order with a large monolithic head, possibly reused from another function. It has a central patera interlacing with a four-petalled chip-carved flower, and to either side are 2 vertical rows of 3-srand interlace. The round arch for the window head is chamfered.

The interior is splayed and is plain and continuous except that the voussoirs of the arch are decorated with circular recesses.

Chancel N wall W window

As the central window except for the heads on the exterior and interior. The exterior head is monolithic with a chamfered arch, and is decorated with 4 vertical rows of intersecting rings.

The interior head is like that of the central window except that the receeses are oval rather than circular.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The wide chancel arch is round headed with 2 orders to the W face and 1 to the E. The arch was restored by Kempson and is extremely crisp.

1st order

The responds are flat pilasters with engaged angle shafts to W and E on tall roll and hollow bases. The NW, NE and SW capitals are double slipped scallops with sheathed cones and above the scallops are 3 shields framed by nailhead and an angle volute. The SE capital is foliate with a circular stem on each face intersecting at the angle and enclosing a bud. The outer segments of the loops enclose fluted leaves with scalloped edges. All 4 capitals have plain neckings. The imposts are chamfered with dart foliage on the chamfer and chip-carved diagonals in squares on the face, all except the S face of the NW impost, which is decorated with a pair of inverted palmettes in hearts. The arch has angle rolls to E and W.

2nd order (W face only)

Engaged nook shafts on bases as the 1st order. Both capitals are carved with 3 human heads: a large one on the angle and slightly smaller ones on each face. All heads have bulbous oval eyes with lids above and below. Noses are long and straight, and continuous with the eyebrow ridges. Cheeks are high and mouths closed and straight. The heads are clean shaven except the central N head, which has a moustache and verttical ridges below the chun suggesting a beard. Neckings are plain and the imposts are like those of the 1st order. The N impost has a large loss on the main angle.

The arch is carved with a row of lozenges on the inner edge of the face, with frontal zigzags formed by the edge of the lozenges on the soffit. There is a quirked chamfered label with, on the N side a label stop in the form of a pair of human figures side by side. The L figure has lost his head, giving the impression of a quadruped from below. The S label stop is lost.

Tower/Transept arches

W tower arch

Single order, plain and pointed. There are parts of imposts surviving on the inner faces of both jambs: the S with a roll below a chmfer and vertical face; the N similat but with the top of the face battlemented (presumably later).


This elaborately carved late-Norman church provides important evidence for the state of carving in the generation after the Herefordshire School. Some distinctive features survive, notably the use of the dart foliage motif, inherited from such earlier sites as Leominster, and seen in contemporary work at Pudleston. Given that this work probably dates from the third quarter of the 12thc or even later, it is surprising to find that chip-carving remains in vogue. RCHME notes the 'crudely carved man and horse' on the S doorway, but Brooks (2012) following Pevsner (1963) does not trust them.


  • A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 619-20.

  • Historic England Listed Building EH Legacy ID 152895

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 298.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 2: East, 1932, 182-85.

Exterior from SE
Interior to NE
Chancel N wall from SW


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SO 619 407 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Herefordshire
now: Herefordshire
medieval: Hereford
now: Hereford
now: St Philip and St James
medieval: St Philip and St James (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
01 November 2017