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St Guthlac, Little Cowarne, Herefordshire

(52°9′24″N, 2°35′4″W)
Little Cowarne
SO 601 511
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter
02 November 2017

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Feature Sets

Little Cowarne is a village in central Herefordshire, 3½ miles SW of Bromyard and 9 miles NE of Hereford. The area is sparsely populated and mostly given over to mixed farming. The village straggles along a network of minor roads, with Little Cowarne Court and the church at its N end. St Guthlac's is a rebuild carried out by F. R. Kempson in 1869-70, incorporating the N walls of the chancel (with a 12thc lancet) and the nave (with a 13thc window). It consists of chancel, nave, S porch and W tower. The lower part of the tower may be 13thc, but the saddleback roof is by Kempson. A description of the medieval church may be found in Duncumb (1812), which describes a small church consisting of a chancel and nave separated by a stone wall, no tower nor spire but two small bells suspended under the W end of the roof. The only feature described here is the font.


Little Cowarne was held by Nigel the Physician, possibly from the Priory of St Guthlac, Hereford, and Ansfrid held it from him in 1086. Before the Conquest it was held by Spirites (i.e. the priest) . It was assessed at 3 hides. Duncumb (1812) missed the Domesday entry (in which it was called Colgre), but records the ownership of the Frayne family in the reign of Henry III, and the Devereux and then the Berringtons later in the Middle Ages.





Brooks describes the font as a 'plain C12-C13 tub', RCHME as 'probably 13th-century, re-cut, modern stem and old round base.' The List Description takes the view that the font is probably 19thc, except for the base which is medieval. The present author accepts the view of RCHME. By 1276 the patron of the church was the Abbey of Gloucester, but by 1428 the patronage had passed to the Bishop of Hereford.

The dedication to St Guthlac dates from 1992, and was given on account of the connection with St Guthlac's Priory, Hereford.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899.

A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 473.

J. Duncumb, Collections towards the history and antiquities of the county of Hereford. Vol. II, pt I, 1812, 107-10.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 151238

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 235.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 2: East, 1932, 57-58.