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St Peter, Rock, Worcestershire

(52°20′14″N, 2°23′41″W)
SO 732 711
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Worcestershire
now Worcestershire
medieval Hereford
now Worcester
  • G. L. Pearson

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Sandstone church with a 12thc. nave and chancel, a S aisle and chapel of 1510, and a W tower and vestry. The church stands on high ground and is very exposed to the N and E with consequent damage to the N wall and entrance. Rock is the largest 12thc. parish church in Worcestershire, with sculpture adorning the N nave doorway and windows, the chancel arch and the font; there are also some reset Romanesque fragments in the N and W nave walls inside.


Rock is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, when the main manor was Alton, held by Ralph de Toeni (died 1101-02); there was a priest at that time. Ralph subsequently gave the manor and church of Alton to St Evroul Abbey in Normandy. Rock is first mentioned in 1210-12 (VCH 19.., 4:320-27).


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration





According to the VCH, the chancel arch has spread at the springing line, causing the depression at the crown and a fracture in the wall above, but the architect now responsible for the fabric regards the arch as intentionally depressed. The carved fragments set into the nave walls could come from a S doorway destroyed when the church was extended on this side in 1510. The motifs on the font are similar to some on the chancel arch (second order, E side), and the font at nearby Bayton bears carving in a similar style. According to Zarnecki (in Pevsner 1968, 253, fn.), the chancel arch is the work of a Herefordshire mason, very close to Shobdon and probably executedc.1160; it is the finest example of Romanesque decorative sculpture in Worcestershire. Stratford (ibid.) also notes similarities with Rowlstone.

The N doorway capitals seem weaker and more fussy in design and execution than the strong, confident work in the chancel arch. Stratford (ibid.) attributes the N doorway to a local workshop, done after the Herefordshire master responsible for the chancel arch had left the site. The N wall windows show some similarities with the N door at Chaddesley Corbett and the S door at Pedmore, especially the scallop capitals with pointed cones.

Doorways set in a projecting bay, as here, occur in a number of churches in the county (see Preface to Worcestershire).

The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Worcestershire, vol. 4. London 1924, 320-27, 324-26.
C. J. Bond, 'Church and Parish in Norman Worcestershire' in J. Blair (ed.) Minsters and Parish Churches. The Local Church in Transition 950-1200, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology Monograph 17. Oxford 1988, 119-58, 126, 128, 138, 141, 142-43, 145, 150, 154.
G. Zarnecki, 'Germanic Motifs in Romanesque Sculpture', Artibus et Historiae, no.22, xi, 1990, reprinted in Further Studies in Romanesque Sculpture. London 1992, 362-82, 365-68.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Worcestershire. Harmondsworth 1968, 15, 16, 45, 46, 252-53.