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St Giles, Aston, Herefordshire

(52°20′29″N, 2°47′33″W)
SO 461 718
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter
10 July 2012

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Aston, known as Pipe Aston locally, is a small village in the far north of the county, 8 miles N of Leominster and a mile from the Shropshire border. The church is a small 12thc 2-celled building with a later S vestry to the nave. Plain Norman lancets survive in nave and chancel, but the upper levels of the chancel were rebuilt in the 13thc. There is a single bell-cote over the W gable. The nave has 12thc N and S doorways - the N, facing the village street, is elaborately carved, while the S is plain, and now serves as the internal entrance to the vestry. There are plain round headed lancets in the lateral nave and chancel walls, but the sawtooth-decorated W windows are 19thc. Construction is of buff sandstone coursed rubble with some contrasting red sandstone in the dressings. Romanesque features recorded here are the two nave doorways and the font


Aston was held by Ralph de Mortimer in 1086, and before the Conquest 5 men held it as 3 manors. It was assessed at 3 hides


Exterior Features





The carver of the doorway and font, named the Aston Master by George Zarnecki, played a crucial role in the formation of the Herefordshire School of sculpture, and work comparable with this can be easily recognised at Shobdon, Kilpeck, Ribbesford (Worcestershire) and Stottesdon (Salop). Thurlby has suggested that the Aston Master was trained at Hereford Cathedral. The pecking bird motif is a recurrent feature of that workshop. The font was clearly adapted to that use from another where it was inverted, and the suggestion of a cross foot, made by Thurlby and followed by Brooks, is the likeliest. Thurlby suggests that the relative dating of Shobdon and Aston is moot, implying similar dates in the early 1130s for both.


A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 555-56 (under Pipe Aston).

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 67.

M. Thurlby, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. Logaston 1999, 87-90 and passim.

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 Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London, 1950, 228-31 and passim