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St George, Woolhope, Herefordshire

(52°1′9″N, 2°34′5″W)
SO 611 358
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter

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Woolhope is in the E of the county; seven miles SE of Hereford. The village is in hilly country, in the valley between the Woolhope Dome to the NW and the ridge of Marcle Hill to the E. It consists of a cluster of dwellings around a crossroads, and the church stands on a knoll to the N, overlooking the village. St George’s has a continuous nave and chancel without a chancel arch, and aisles to both nave and chancel. The N aisle is as long as the chancel, while the S is shorter, but both have four-bay arcades. At present the screen and chancel step are positioned so that both nave and chancel have two arcaded bays, but this arrangement dates only from 1882, when the screen was moved westwards to accommodate the choir. Beyond the arcades, at the E end, there is a 12thc. N lancet that now communicates only with the end of the N aisle, which has been screened off as a vestry. The S arcade is 19thc. throughout, but the W part of the N arcade is 12thc., with a round-headed W bay carried on a pier and respond of Romanesque design, thoroughly restored. The rather plain W tower is 13thc. in its details. The church apparently dates from 1157, when the bishop gave permission for the building of a church here. The Church Guide suggests that the original building was a rectangular box, and that the Romanesque arch in the N arcade belonged to a chantry, also mentioned in early documents. The N aisle and tower were added in the 13thc., and the N aisle extended eastwards in the 14thc. There was a major restoration in 1882, funded by the Booker family with work carried out by Stone Brothers of Fownhope. At this time the S aisle was added and the S doorway of c.1300 moved into the new aisle wall, the chancel was extended into the nave, the chancel floor was raised and the church was refurnished. Romanesque sculpture is found in the N nave arcade and a pillar piscina.


The manor was given to Hereford cathedral in the 11thc by the sisters Wulviva and Godiva, and the Dean and Chapter are still the patrons of the church. In 1086 Woolhope was recorded among the lands belonging to canons of Hereford. There were 16 hides of ploughland at that time, along with eight acres of meadow and woodland three furlongs long and one wide. Of this land, two clerks held a hide and a virgate, and one knight held 1½ hides, for which he paid 5s to the canons. The remainder was in demesne. No church was noted at that time, and it was not until 1157 that the Bishop of Hereford gave permission for the building of a church at Woolhope.


Interior Features




Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


No parallels have yet been found.

(benefice of Fownhope with Mordiford, Brockhampton and Fawley and Woolhope)

Anon., Welcome to St George’s Church Woolhope, Woolhope PCC, 2002.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire, Harmondsworth 1963, 324-25.
Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 7468. Now available online at http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/db.php