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St Michael and All Angels, Lyonshall, Herefordshire

(52°11′59″N, 2°58′48″W)
SO 331 562
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
  • Jill A Franklin
  • Ron Baxter
  • Ron Baxter
7 Oct 2007 (JAF), 19 March 2024 (RB)

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Lyonshall is a village in the NW of Herefordshire, 10 miles W of Leominster. The chuch stands on a ridge overlooking the A44 from Leominster to Rhayader and consists of a W tower, a nave with N and S aisles, a timber framed S porch, transeptal N and S chapels and a chancel with a N vestry. The present building is largely 13th and 14th centuries, but the window in the W wall of the N nave asile is evidence of a lost Norman church, perhaps the one which housed the Romanesque font sitting outside, in the angle of the W tower and the S aisle, deprived of its original base. Another remanant is a corbel reset in the S nave asile wall. Pevsner does not record the older font, or the re-used corbels which now support it but, if they came from the earlier church and were discarded during the Gothic rebuild or G F Bodley’s restoration in 1872, they may only fairly recently have come to light. The church, some three-quarters of a mile from a stretch of Offa’s Dyke, stands on a site that was clearly of some importance in the middle ages, given its proximity to a moated castle with an outer and inner bailey and the masonry remains of a circular keep of 13th-century date. The castle belonged to the Careys and then the Devereuxs. (Pevsner Herefords, 1963 repr 1982, 244-5)


Lyonshall was held by Thorkil from Earl Harold in 1066, and by Roger de Lacy in 1086, when it was assessed at 5 hides. The Devereux family held the manor from the de Lacy's, and c.1090 began the building of Lyonshall Castle. The manor remained in the Devereux family until 1265 when William Devereux was killed at the Battle of Evesham, fighting on the barons' side against the king. He was attainted and his lands, including Lyonshall, passed to Roger Mortimer.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration





The font is not recorded by any of the printed sources in the bibliography, but was noticed JAF in 2007 and photographed by RB in 2024. Arcading is necessarily distorted on a cup=shaped font, and is therefore uncommon. The authors know of no other examples in the county and the closest comparison may be with Rendcomb (Gloucestershire) although that has figures under the arcading and the bowl is convex rather than a true cup. The feet on which it stands apppear to be inverted, which would imply that they are reused corbels, but two considerations weigh against this. First they are all the same, and second they are far too small and thin.

The grotesque head reset inside was noted by Brooks (2007), 495, and is a fine later 12thc piece. The inclusion of hands and arms may also be seen at Kilpeck, although there is nothing particularly close to this. Further away but more closely comparable are corbels at St John's, Devizes, Wiltshire


A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 495-96.

Historic England Listed Building. English Heritage Legacy ID 150269

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963 (reprinted 1982), 244-45.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 3: North-west, 1934, 140-44.