Kilpeck Church

Yesterday Mrs Sixwheeler and I visited the Church of St Mary and St David in the village of Kilpeck in Herefordshire. This church is well known among students of church architecture but almost unknown to everyone else; I came across it by a chance reference on Twitter and decided it was worth a visit. How right I was.

To get to Kilpeck from Bath our route took us through some beautiful country in the South Wales border country which is very green and pleasant at this time of year.
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Arriving in Kilpeck village turn right opposite The Kilpeck Inn to arrive at a little car park and a first charming view of the church.
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Moving through the churchyard you arrive at the South Door, which I used for my Facebook thread “Door of the Day” last night.
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There is so much detail in this doorway, note the ‘Tree of Life’ on the tympanum and the ‘Green Man’
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on top of the column on the right.

Below the roofline all around the top of the walls are some ninety plus corbals (not gargoyles), I’m not going to show them all now but here are a couple.
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Hound and hare
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Two birds eating a snake.

There is also a sheela-na-gig, a very rare depiction and I’m not even going to guess at what’s going on here,
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you can look and make your own decisions!

The amazing thing is that these decorations in the Hereford style of stonemasonry date back to the time the church was built in around 1140 AD and that they have survived. The stone is red sandstone which is normally quite soft but here it has a high mica content that makes it much harder.

Moving into the interior of the church you find a very simple layout in the Romanesque style with more decoration in stone; there is a very large font that is believed to have been brought in at a later date. I was particularly delighted by this Holy Water Stoup
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which was also brought in much later but is now used for fresh flowers.

From the outside this shows the construction of the church and you can see the line of corbals just below the roof line.
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Before returning to the car we walked up to the adjacent ruin of Kilpeck Castle which offers very little other than spectacular views from the top and on a hot day is very smelly indeed as the farmer has had his sheep in there and there is much evidence of their presence.
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As a footnote I would add that The Kilpeck Inn is most welcoming and provided us with a very good lunch.

24 June 2015

3 thoughts on “Kilpeck Church

  1. Gosh, it really is a work of art. You can feel the love that has gone into building it – as a tribute to God or whatever higher power seems appropriate.
    It would be such a shame to lose these buildings. Let’s hope we never deem them not worth saving or restoring.

    • You’re so right, it is simply stunning. But THE most amazing thing is that it exists at all and that so much is original. I only found out about it through an obscure reference in a Twitter feed I follow and its certainly one of the finds of the year so far. Serendipity.

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