A question often posed

A question often posed – how is that the church and its carvings on the church have survived so well?

kilpeck-castle2bBecause, for so many years, the area was almost unknown and therefore was probably poor, there were not the funds to alter it. The viability of the village depended to a large extent on the castle and its lords, and G R Lewis clearly found the church in a poor state in 1818. Four factors probably accounted for its demise: three years of terrible wet weather round Grosmont 1315,1316,1317 when 20% of the populace died, causing lack of seed corn and the slaughter of much livestock, and so here too, the passage of the ownership of the castle to absentee landlords, further Great Famine in 1335, and finally the Black Death in 1348/9. Had these events not taken place, it is more than likely that the church would have been radically changed, so we must be grateful, in a strange way, for these misfortunes.
Even today it was till about 2003 that a full photographic record was made of the effects and carvings here. For this we must give wholehearted thanks to Carol Yarranton Hall, who recorded absolutely everything, all without charge. A further miracle(?) is that the roundheads, responsible for the breakup of the castle, do not seem to have wreaked havoc on the church.
As to the survival of the carvings, there are a few possible pointers. The two columns of the south door are both carved, as are the two columns either side of the chancel arch, out of one block of stone, so that there are no joints to harbour water. The sandstone is very fine so does not easily retain moisture and, in sunlight, there is glint which could suggest hardening with mica or quartz. It is hoped a knowledgeable visitor will help. There is no evidence, as yet, to identify the quarry from which this sandstone, typically Herefordshire red, might have come. It would certainly have been from a deep vein. Let’s hope time will tell!

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