St Mary's is one of the longest churches in the county at 36.3 metres (119 feet). The central tower is 12thc., as is the eastern part of the nave. A south aisle was added in the 13thc., and nave and aisle extended westward c.1300. The present chancel is of the early 14thc., as is the chapel to the south of the tower, now a vestry. A shingled oak broach spire was added in the 14th or 15thc. The jewel of Fownhope is a tympanum of the Virgin and Child by Herefordshire School sculptors, now detached from whatever doorway it once adorned and displayed inside the church. Also recorded here are the E and W tower arches, and the tower bell-openings, string courses and angle corbels.
In 1086 Fownhope was a large manor of 15 hides held by Hugh l'Asne, land granted to him by William fitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford (d.1071). Two priests and a church were recorded, probably indicating minster status. On Hugh's death the manor apparently passed to Robert de Chandos, who had married Hugh's daughter. A market and a fair were granted by Henry III to Roger de Chaundos in 1221. The manor remained in the Chandos family until the 15thc.
Benefice of Fownhope with Mordiford, Brockhampton and Fawley and Woolhope.
Of two orders, pointed. The structure repeats that of the west arch, but the arch itself is pointed and double-chamfered - clearly a replacement. In the descriptions below, only capitals and bases are described.
Of two orders, depressed head
First order (shared): Applied half-column responds carrying plain double-scallop capitals with chamfered neckings and quirked chamfered impost blocks. The respond bases have a roll with beak-shaped spurs below a hollow chamfer carved with an inscribed zigzag. The arch is plain and square sectioned.
Second order, W face: The order is carried on attached nook-shafts and cushion capitals with angle tucks and chamfered neckings. Imposts are the same as the 1st order, as are the bases, although the north based is hidden behind the pulpit. The arch is plain and square sectioned, and there is a quirked chamfered label.
|h of tympanum||0.77 m|
|w.||1.78m (originally approx.1.86m)|