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St George, Brinsop, Herefordshire

(52°5′55″N, 2°48′57″W)
SO 442 448
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
medieval St George
now St George
  • George Zarnecki

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Feature Sets

The present church has a late 13thc. chancel and nave to which a N aisle was added c.1320. Nave and aisle were lengthened by two bays c.1330-40. It was restored in 1866-67 when the N vestry, S porch and W bell-turret were added. RCHME (II, 27) claims that the NE angle of the chancel is part of the 12thc. church, but this is doubtful. However, numerous carvings reused inside the church testify to the existence of an earlier building, dating to the second quarter of the 12thc. All the 12thc. stones are reset inside the church, and are described in section IV.5.c. below


Brinsop was held before 1066 by Osbern of Marlborough who settled in Herefordshire during King Edward's reign. He was succeeded by his nephew Alvred of Marlborough and in 1086 Brinsop was held from him by one of his milites, Richard. Domesday mentions a priest here, so there must have been a church at that time, though no trace of it survives. The manor passed to Bernard Neufmarché before 1088, and in 1121 the manor and church passed to Miles of Gloucester at his marriage with Bernard's daughter, Sybil. At Miles's death in 1143 they passed to his son Roger, Earl of Hereford. His tenant between 1143 and 1159 at Brinsop may have been Oliver de Merlimond (see Thurlby, 104). By the time the Herefordshire Domesday was written (c.1160-70) Brinsop was held by William Torel, an outstanding figure who in 1182 acted as a justice in the curia Regis at Westminster, and in 1183 was appointed sheriff of the county.

Benefice of Credenhill, Brinsop and Wormsley, Mansel Lacy and Yazor, Kenchester, Bridge Sollers and Bishopstone.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


It has been suggested (Zarnecki (1953) that the Brinsop tympanum is based on one of two lunettes on the facade of Parthenay-le-Vieux (Deux-Sevres), and that the other was copied in nearby Stretton Sugwas. The rider at Parthenay-le-Vieux also faces R, pierces his adversary with a spear, holds a hawk on his hand, and wears a windblown mantle. It is generally accepted that the tympanum of St George at Ruardean (Glos.) is based on that at Brinsop but Ruardean is a simplified version without carved voussoirs and so it is not of help in reconstructing the original appearance of the doorway that once house the Brinsop tympanum. It is not even certain that all the Brinsop voussoirs belonged to the same doorway. Of the 23 surviving voussoirs, nine fit fairly well around the tympanum and the other 14 could have formed a second order, but three of them have plain upper borders (voussoirs 3, 9 and 14) and may have belonged to a different doorway, though this is far from certain.

Brinsop shares a number of characteristic features with Shobdon, of which the radiating arch voussoirs are one. The R arch at Shobdon in particular presents many parallels, notably the use of signs of the zodiac selected at random, and in some instances duplicated. At Brinsop, for example, there is one voussoir carved with Pisces, one with Taurus and one with Sagittarius, and the confronted lions, repeated three times, might be intended for Leo. The angels with outstretched wings appear frequently at Brinsop but only once at Shobdon. There are six voussoirs with pairs of standing figures under arcading. At Shobdon similar standing figures appear but they are not under arcades, however the subject does appear at Alveley. Thurlby (1999) noted that this type of tympanum with lateral lugs enclosing the voussoirs also appears at Kilpeck (Herefs) and at Pauntley and Dymock (both Glos.). He related the flared trouser-like skirt of St George himself, and the figures under arcading in the voussoirs to examples at Kilpeck, Stretton Sugwas and Alveley, and the form of the dragon to examples at Kilpeck, Alveley and Shobdon. The birds on the panel and the tympanum also find counterparts at Kilpeck and Shobdon. Thurlby stresses the importance of Oliver de Merlimond in the transmission of the trampling rider motif from Western France to Brinsop, but also suggests that Mithraic cult representations of Mithras slaying the bull may have played a part (Thurlby 1999, 106-07). The editor is more persuaded by his suggestion of possible formal links with Roman grave markers showing a knight trampling a fallen enemy.

Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 6881. Now available online at http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/db.php/p
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 87-88.
M. Thurlby, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. Logaston 1999, 104-10 and passim.
G. Zarnecki, Later English Romanesque Sculpture 1140-1210. London 1953.
G. Zarnecki, 'The Priory Church of Shobdon and its Founder.' D. Buckton and T.A. Heslop (ed.), Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture presented to Peter Lasko. Stroud 1994, 211-20.