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St Mary, Bishops Frome, Herefordshire

(52°7′58″N, 2°29′32″W)
Bishops Frome
SO 664 484
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • George Zarnecki
  • Ron Baxter

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St Mary's has a nave with a N aisle and a square-ended chancel, all built by F. Kempson of Hereford in a style described by Hilary White (SMR) as a 'terribly pretentious neo-Norman'. The nave dates from 1861, and includes a genuine 12thc. S doorway with chevron ornament, which must be the excuse for Kempson's excesses. The chancel is of 1847, and includes Kempson's S doorway, which is far too big and elaborate for a priest's doorway. The chancel arch is 12thc. work too, and there is a large conglomerate font. At the W end, the tower is of c.1300 in its lower parts, with a later 14thc. bell stage and parapet.


As its name implies, the manor was held by the Bishop of Hereford in 1086. It consisted of 10 hides of which one was held by the bishop's chaplain, and one virgate by the village priest. There was probably an Anglo-Saxon church, therefore, but nothing remains of this.

Benefice of Bishops Frome with Castle Frome and Fromes Hill.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




The font belongs to a group of eight large Breccia or cornstone fonts in the county, identified by Halsey; the others being at Bredwardine, Kilpeck, Madley, Kingstone, Turnastone, Vowchurch and Bosbury. Halsey dates these fonts to c.1140-50, but the present authors prefer a date in the third quarter of the 12thc. The chancel arch is apparently slightly earlier, while the S doorway is rather later; its slender concave capitals, stiff-leaf foliage and almost free-standing chevron decoration pointing to c.1200 or slightly later. Most of the fabric dates from the 19thc., but the lower part of the chancel N wall appears to be 12thc.

Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 5410. Now available online at http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/db.php/p
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 74-75.
R. Halsey, 'Eight Herefordshire Marble Fonts', Romanesque and Gothic: Essays for George Zarnecki. Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1987, 107-09.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 2: E, 1932, 10-12.
R. Ross, The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bishop's Frome (church guide). Bishops Frome 1988.