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St John the Baptist, Orcop, Herefordshire

(51°55′57″N, 2°45′59″W)
SO 474 263
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter
06 September 2012

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Feature Sets

Orcop is a small dispersed village in the S of the county, 8 miles S of Hereford and a similar distance W of Ross-on-Wye. It is in a hilly, mixed farming district, and Orcop itself consists of little more than the church and the remains of a motte and bailey nearby. It is at the foot of Orcop Hill whose summit, a mile NW of the church, rises to a height of 293m. Orcop Hill is also the name of the larger village on its eastern slopes. Orcop church, however, stands in isolation except for a few houses. It consists of chancel with a N vestry, nave with a N aisle and a S porch, and a W tower, timber clad in its upper part and carrying a timber bell stage with a short spire. None of the fabric is obviously Romanesque: the aisle is 13thc; the chancel of c.1300; the nave windows indicate a rebuilding in the 14thc, and the tower perhaps 16thc in origin, but the church was comprehensively restored by Thomas Nicholson in 1860-61. The only Romanesque sculpture here is a pillar piscina bowl.


Orcop is not mentioned by that name in the Domesday Survey. It was within the region of Archenfield, a semi-autonomous Welsh district with its own customs (described in Domesday). It is there noted that King Gruffydd and Bleddyn laid this land waste before 1066; therefore what it was like at that time is not known.



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


Both Pevsner and RCHME list the dedication as St Mary’s, which was indeed the medieval dedication. The nearby church of Brampton Abbotts also retains a pillar piscina bowl of clunch and in the form of a scalloped capital, although that one is circular.


A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 538-39.

Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 8257.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 264-65.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 1: South-west, 1931, 207-08.