We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Michael and All Angels, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire

(52°16′13″N, 2°27′57″W)
Upper Sapey
SO 683 637
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter
31 October 2017

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=10305.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Upper Sapey is a village in NE Herefordshire, in a tongue of land projecting into Worcestershire. It is 11 miles WNW of Worcester and 6 miles N of Bromyard. The village runs N along a minor road off the B4203 with the church at its northern end. St Michael's has a 12thc nave and chancel with a W tower. The chancel retains a 12thc N lancet but was remodelled in the 14thc. The nave has 12thc lateral doorways; the N blocked and the S under a later porch. The W tower dates from 1859 and is short with a broach spire. At the same time a new chancel arch was installed and the Romanesque one was reused as a tower arch for the new tower. Subsequently the nave was divided by a glass and timber partition W of the lateral doorways, so that the tower arch can be seen but not approached without special arrangements. Romanesque features described here are the two nave doorways, the tower arch and the font.


Upper Sapey is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, although Lower Sapey, over the border in Worcestershire, was held by Osbern FitzRichard in demesne. By the mid-13thc the manor of Upper Sapey was held by a family taking their name from the village. Richard de Sapey presented to the church in 1285, and the last of that name to present was John in 1380, after which the advowson and presumably the manor passed to the Cokeseys (Duncumb (1812)).


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Both Pevsner and the revision by Brooks note the unusual ornament in the outer order of the tower arch, described by Pevsner (1963) as 'rows of pointed arches meeting along the edge of an arch order, one row parallel with the wall and the other at r. angles to it', and by Brooks as 'like a series of recessed pointed leaves broken back across the square profile of the arch.' The diificulty experienced in describing it is a testament to the rarity of the motif. Few of the sources in the bibliography offer a very specific date for the work on the chancel arch and the 2 doorways. The precision of the chevron carving suggests a date after c.1150, while the forms of the capitals, imposts and bases points to an earlier period. RCHME suggests the 3rd quarter of the 12thc for the nave and thus the doorways and chancel arch, which is probably correct although the capitals would be rather old fashioned by then. Parallels are not easy to find. The curious treatment of some of the scallop capitals with intersecting scallops has similarities to the more accomplished work at Bromyard, where we also find volutes on capitals with concentric reeding surrounding them. Intersecting rings, as on an impost of the N doorway, occur on a capital at Leominster Priory. The font is dated by RCHME, Brooks (2012) and the List Description to the early 13thc. The author agrees but the reader may not.


A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 631-32.

J. Duncumb, Collections towards the history and antiquities of the county of Hereford. Vol. I, 1812, 156.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy number 410993

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 303.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 2: East, 1932, 167-68.