All posts by Mike Stuart

Research Presentation and Architectural Tour by Caroline Novak

The Architectural Iconography of the Parish Church
of St. Mary and St. David, Kilpeck

All are warmly invited to this free and open-to-the-public research presentation and architectural tour by Caroline Novak (York University, Toronto, University of Bristol, UK) Saturday 9th April 2016 2-3pm at the Parish Church of St. Mary and St. David, Kilpeck.

Caroline will present new research on the ingenuity and wondrous richness of the architectural iconography of the parish church of St. Mary and St. David at Kilpeck, Herefordshire, The discussion will provide an introductory review of the church’s history and foundational historiography, and will then focus on new evidence carved into this jewel-like architectural treasure. The presentation will be followed by a tour and a tea reception at the Kilpeck Inn. All are warmly welcome and invited to this free event.


Continue reading Research Presentation and Architectural Tour by Caroline Novak


Dowsing Suggests… by Clive Essery

18th Century dowserDowsing is a method of finding many things, including water, which are not immediately visible above ground.
Having visited the site over five times, I have spent many days investigating the area, and given a talk to our local archaeology society about the Church, tempting them to visit the Church for themselves.

Dowsing suggests that there were two other Saxon period Christian altars north of the north wall. At that wall you can see a strange sloping buttress, unlike all of the others around the church and to its left is the markings of a door. Continue reading Dowsing Suggests… by Clive Essery


Liber Landavensis: The Book of Llandaff

The Book of Llandaff was written between 1120 and 1140, under the supervision of Urban, who was appointed bishop of Llandaff by the king of England in 1107, and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This book, Liber Landavensis, is one of Wales’s earliest ecclesiastical manuscripts.

Book of LlandaffIt is a manuscript of considerable bulk comprising 128 vellum pages. Inside its covers the early history of the diocese of Llandaff is chronicled and the contents also throw light on the state and position of the church in one area of Wales soon after the Norman Conquest.

Historians believe that it was written in the wake of a disagreement between Urban and the bishops of St David’s and Hereford regarding the boundaries of Llandaff diocese.
It was hoped that the contents of the book would strengthen the rights of that diocese to lands and properties in south east Wales. Continue reading Liber Landavensis: The Book of Llandaff


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. Continue reading A question often posed


A history of the Pye family

pye-crestThe Pye family were once based in Much Dewchurch, where several are buried in the church. They were a large family of great renown, both in UK, Canada and USA, and many were MPs. They were extensive landowners.
I am much appreciative of help given by Betty Wing whose family has extensively researched the history of the whole Pye family from their origins in Finland and Norway. Research shows that most Pyes are descended from, or named from, the family started by Hugh fitz William, Fitz Norman de LaMare, who is mentioned in the Breton Charter dated 1030. The genealogy of Hugh is somewhat of a puzzle. It was after their Kilpeck days that the name Pye came about. Continue reading A history of the Pye family


Here Lyeth the Bodye – A Selection of Epitaphs from the Churchyard at Kilpeck

churchyard2A study of the epitaphs on the gravestones in the church can reveal a good deal about the thoughts and life-styles of some ancestors.

There are some splendid stones here, the earliest dated 1696. Many of them are the work of son and father Parry who lived here in the early part of the nineteenth century. Joseph Parry, who died in 1846, lived at Marlas and Richard Parry, who died in 1876, lived at Grafton Oak; both are buried here.

There are few memorials inside the church; the large one immediately in front of the altar recalls the Sayce family – sayce/saise is a slightly derogatory name for an Englishman! Continue reading Here Lyeth the Bodye – A Selection of Epitaphs from the Churchyard at Kilpeck


George Lewis’ illustrated book of Kilpeck church

Hereford, Dynedor and the Malvern Hills, from the Haywood Lodge, Harvest Scene, Afternoon 1815 by George Robert Lewis 1782-1871
Hereford, Dynedor Harvest Scene,  by George R Lewis

Some extracts from the book entitled Lewis’s Kilpeck Church published in 1842 by George Robert Lewis. He was an artist living in Herefordshire with, amongst others, a painting of ‘Harvesting in Dinedor’ which is part of the Tate Collection. He was a relative of the better known John Frederick Lewis, the orientialist painter and in late 1850s President of the Royal Academy.

This extraordinary book, published in 1842 by Lewis who had first visited the church in 1818, was paid for by public subscription by some 261 subscribers, many of them bishops. It was dedicated to Thomas Lord Bishop of Hereford. The first 18 pages of some 9000 words is entitled On Ecclesiastical Design and is very outspoken, with criticism, amongst other places of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Illustrations of Kilpeck Church by G R LewisThat is followed by another 38 pages of Explanation of the plates, (of which there are 28) which were drawn, probably on site, by Lewis. Many of them are faithfully drawn, but also reflect what clearly he thought ought to have been there. In particular views of the church from various angles are not true to life. A comparison with Lewis’ other images of the church is entertaining! Note ‘his’ cross at the west end where there actually was a belfry. The chancel appears to have neither door nor window!They are reproduced here.

This article reproduces some of his comments, and is only a small sample of his pronouncements; but they could be thought of as revealing how the carvings just might have been planned. The whole book is in the public domain.  Read on……………….. Continue reading George Lewis’ illustrated book of Kilpeck church