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St George, Orleton, Herefordshire

(52°18′2″N, 2°44′36″W)
SO 494 672
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
medieval St George
now St George
  • George Zarnecki
  • Neil Stratford
  • Ron Baxter
05 August 1989, 10 July 2012

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Orleton is a village in the N of the county, 5 miles N of Leominster and just over a mile S of the Shropshire border. The church stands in the village centre, and has a long and broad nave, a 13thc chancel with a S vestry, and a W tower with a broach spire. The nave is of 12thc date, the chancel was rebuilt in the 13thc, but the W tower is somewhat problematic. Its W doorway is round-headed but deeply chamfered. If it is 12thc it must be reset, because the 1st-storey W window is a pointed lancet. The 2nd –storey N and S windows, however, are round-headed. The font and a shaft section are the only carved survivals of the original Romanesque building and both are works of the Herefordshire School. The mutilated stone was in the crypt of Hereford Cathedral in 1989, but had been returned to the church by 2012.


The Domesday Survey lists Orleton as the property of Ralph de Mortimer of Wigmore Castle, the owner of Shobdon. The identity of his tenant at Orleton at the time when the church was built is unknown. Herefordshire Domesday, dating to c.1160, gives the name of Radulfus as the owner of Arletone.




Loose Sculpture


The fragment of the shaft is clearly remnant of a richly carved doorway. It is likely that, as the church was dedicated to St George, the doorway included a tympanum with this saint, as at Brinsop. As remarked above, three of the apostles on the font hold handfuls of drapery, a motif found also on the voussoirs at Brinsop. This is clearly Italian-inspired, as shown by somewhat earlier (c.1120) reliefs at Modena Cathedral by Wiligelmo.

The font is the only one of cylindrical shape in the Hereford School. Curiously it is not mentioned in Thurlby (1999).


F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers. Oxford 1908, 37, 45, 57, 149, 151, ill.182

A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 539.

A. W. Clapham, English Romanesque Architecture, II, After the Conquest. Oxford 1934, 154

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 265-266

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 3: North-west, 1934, 156.

M. Thurlby, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. Logaston 1999.

G. Zarnecki, Regional Schools of English Sculpture in the Twelfth Century: the Southern School and the Herefordshire School. Unpublished PhD thesis,University ofLondon, 1950, 353-357.