Closed for repairs
OS grid reference
SO 402 283
However, it has legendary associations with the 6th-century Welsh saint, Cynidr, and may have a pre-Conquest foundation.
If you’ve ever driven along the A465 in Herefordshire, chances are you’ve passed St Mary’s. It’s perched on a mound overlooking the road and has Pontrilas Sawmills – one of the UK’s largest independent sawmills – as a next-door neighbour. The village, comprising just a few houses, is found on the other side of this busy road. St Mary’s first came to our attention in 2010. During the intervening decade, after various attempts to sell the building for domestic conversion, the Diocese found it just wasn’t saleable.
St Mary’s is a small medieval church, and we look forward to researching its history in much greater detail. It’s close to some of the most celebrated churches in the country – Abbey Dore is two miles west, while Kilpeck is two miles to the north-east. There is a Norman motte a mile to the north.
St Mary’s was founded in the 12th century – as evidenced by the tapering sandstone font with chevrons incised on the rim. However, it has legendary associations with the 6th-century Welsh saint, Cynidr, who was the first Bishop of Glasbury, Powys. Indeed, the churchyard is roughly oval, which may suggest pre-Conquest origins.
There is some debate about how much medieval fabric survives. Pevsner and Newman believe that it was not only restored, but completely rebuilt by William Chick of Hereford in 1870–2. However, recent assessments propose that older building fabric remains in the walls of the nave and chancel (the latter has a medieval ‘wagon’ roof). Irrefutable evidence for the Victorian elements comes from the Incorporated Church Building Society records, which state that a grant was made towards ‘new porch and vestry, several new windows, general restoration and reseating’.
Beyond the Norman font, there are several internal elements which predate Chick’s restoration, including a broken 12th/13th-century cross slab mounted on the south wall; parts of a 15th-century screen re-worked into a restored version; an early 16th-century stoup in the south porch; a 17th-century oak altar and pulpit; and an 18th-century monument in the vestry.
St Mary’s came into our care in October 2023. Having lain unused for so long, it needs quite a bit of work to roofs and walls. The interior has a significant woodworm infestation, which we need to address urgently. The church will remain closed for repairs until it’s ready for visitors.
The churchyard, which is not owned by the FoFC, has a 15th-century churchyard cross base with Victorian cross (Grade II listed), as well as Georgian gravestones and chest tombs.
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