2 ACONBURY (D.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXIX, S.E., (b)XLV, N.E.)
Aconbury is a parish 4 m. S. of Hereford. The
church and Aconbury camp are the principal monuments.
Aconbury, the Parish Church of St John the Baptist
a(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist
stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of
coursed rubble with ashlar dressings all of local red
sandstone; the roofs are tiled. A priory of Austin
nuns was founded in Aconbury early in the 13th
century by Margery, wife of William de Lacy. The
existing Church, being that of the convent, was built
c. 1230–40; it probably extended to the E. of the
existing building, but which portion, if any, was
parochial in the Middle Ages is uncertain. The cloister
lay on the S. side and also extended to the E. of the
existing church, but there are no remains of the conventual building except some traces of the western
range, where it adjoined the church. The West Porch
was added late in the 15th century. The priory was
suppressed in 1536, and the conventual buildings
subsequently destroyed. The upper part of the E.,
and the eastern part of the N. walls were re-built
probably after the dissolution. The Chandos vault
was constructed, beneath the chancel, late in the
17th or early in the 18th century. The church was
restored in 1863.
The church is of some interest as that attached to a
monastic house, and the W. window is an interesting
The Chancel and Nave (56 ft. by 27¼ ft.) are structurally undivided. The partly restored and re-set early
14th-century E. window is of three lights in a two-centred head with a 15th-century moulded label and
head-stops; the side lights are pointed and the mullions
are carried up to the head on either side of the middle
light; in the gable is a round window of the same
date, with a moulded label; the wall below the main E.
window is of 13th-century date. In the N. wall are
three windows, the easternmost a 13th-century lancet-window, probably re-set when the E. part of the wall was
re-built in the 16th century; the middle and westernmost windows, also of the 13th century, are each of two
cinque-foiled lights in a two-centred head with a quatrefoil in the tympanum; the mullion has a moulded capping. In the S. wall are two 13th-century lancetwindows, similar to that in the N. wall, but set at a
higher level to avoid the roof of the former cloister;
farther E. is a 13th-century doorway, now blocked, and
partly hidden by the flooring; it has chamfered jambs
and two-centred head with a modern label; to the W.
of the windows and near the middle of the wall is a
13th-century doorway, also blocked, with chamfered
jambs, two-centred arch and a partly restored label;
near the W. end of the wall and high above the floor
is a small chamber in the thickness of the wall; it was
entered from the first floor of the western range of the
monastic buildings by a doorway, now blocked and with
a quatre-foiled opening set in the blocking; looking into
the church is a small square-headed window; the
chamber has a stone seat at the W. end and at the E.
end remains of a string or label of doubtful purpose.
The chamber may have been used as a pew in connection with the guest-house or it may possibly be the head
of the night-stairs from the dorter; in the first case
the guest-house must have occupied the upper storey
of the western range; in the second case the same
building must have formed the dorter; there are,
however, no actual remains of any staircase. The only
other remains of the western range are parts of the N.
jamb of a 13th-century doorway on the S. face of the
church. To the E. of this point and to an unknown
distance beyond the church extended the N. alley of
the cloister; the height of the roof is indicated by a
stone weathering-course; set in the wall are four stone
corbels, two above the weathering of the cloister roof,
and two on the E. side of the two doorways. In the
W. wall of the church (Plate 81) is a 13th-century
window of three trefoiled and graduated lights each
with a moulded label and all enclosed in a moulded,
two-centred outer order with a moulded label, headstops and three moulded quatrefoils in the tympanum;
the jambs are moulded and have attached shafts with
moulded and foliated capitals and moulded bases; the
splays have shafts with moulded capitals and the rear-arch and label are moulded, the label having head-stops;
the W. doorway, of the same date as the window, has
chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and a moulded label
with foliated stops. Above the W. end of the church
is a square timber bell-cote with a shingled octagonal
roof or spirelet, splayed out to square at the base.
The West Porch (Plate 80) is of 15th-century date
and of timber on modern dwarf walls. The outer
archway is two-centred and springs from attached shafts
with moulded capitals. The side walls are each of two
bays, each sub-divided into six lights with trefoiled ogee
heads and tracery; the roof has three trusses with
moulded wall-posts having attached shafts with moulded
capitals or angels holding shields; the moulded braces
have carved traceried or panelled spandrels; the wall-plates are moulded. The actual roof is carried on three
added trusses, two of which appear to be ancient.
Fittings.—Bell: One, inaccessible. Bracket: On
E. wall—above E. window, externally, carved with
foliage and woman's head, 14th-century. Chair: In
chancel (Plate 26)—with turned frontlegs, shaped and
elaborately carved back with arcaded panel and cresting,
early 17th-century, partly repaired. Coffin-lids: In
chancel—(1) with foliated cross in round quatre-foiled
panel, stem with inscription to Johane Pauncev(ort),
rosettes at sides, late 13th-century; (2) with cross with
foliated ends in quatre-foiled circle, base resting on
cinque-foiled circle with rosette in centre, 14th century,
with 18th-century inscription added; (3) with eight-armed cross, with fleur-de-lis ends in octofoiled circle,
late 13th-century; (4) with cross formed of intersecting
segments and a circle, broken and worn, late 13th-century. In nave—(5) to Mahaud de Gorneye "compa(gne)" of (Ro)ger de Clifford, elaborately incised
cross with oak-leaf and maple-leaf decoration, moulded
base and two shields-of-arms hanging from branches,
(a) Clifford and (b) Gerney, marginal inscription in
separate letters, early 14th-century; (6) fragment with
incised cross with arms of fleur-de-lis form and heart
in middle, late 13th-century. Glass: In N.E. window
—two quatrefoils of grisaille foliage, and six portions
of similar panels, 13th-century. Monument and Floor-slab: Monument: On splays of E. window—late 17th-century carved stones including cartouche, cherub-head
and vase and a winged skull, etc. Floor-slab: In chancel
—to Sir Henry Barnard, 1680, black marble slab with
shield-of-arms. Piscina: In S. wall—between two
doorways, recess with moulded jambs and trefoiled
head, quatre-foiled drain with front partly cut away.
Recess: In N. wall—wide recess with moulded jambs,
segmental-pointed arch and label, mid 13th-century,
probably tomb-recess. Miscellanea: Above W. window
externally, re-set head-stop. Incorporated in dwarf walls
of porch—13th-century moulded and carved stones.
a(2). Cottage, two tenements, 100 yards S.W. of the
church, is of two storeys. The walls are timber-framed
with brick nogging on a stone base; the roofs are
covered with modern slate. It is a rectangular building
of 17th-century date with one-storey modern additions
at either end. Some of the timber-construction is
exposed inside the building.
b(3). Cottage, on S. side of the road nearly 1 m.
S.W. of the church, is of two storeys. The walls are of
local stone-rubble; the roofs are covered with thatch.
It was built c. 1700, and has a later weather-boarded barn
at the W. end and a modern lean-to addition at the E.
end. At the E. end of the original building is a
projecting chimney-stack with stepped sides and
weathered top above which is a modern brick shaft.
Inside the building the ceilings of the ground-floor
rooms have chamfered beams and exposed joists.
a(4). Aconbury Camp, earthwork on summit of
Aconbury Hill, ¾ m. W.S.W. of the church, is an irregularly-shaped enclosure of approximately 17½ acres,
or including the defences 23 acres; it is about 550 yards
long from E. to W. and 150 yards wide. It follows
the natural contour of the hill and slopes downwards
towards the W.; the surrounding ground slopes from
the camp in all directions, the slope being precipitous
on the N. and W. The camp is surrounded by a rampart with an outer ditch for the greater part of the S.
and E. sides and a berm on the N. and W. sides. It has
two entrances, at the S.E. and S.W. corners respectively; at the former the rampart returns for a short
distance inwards on either side of the opening; at the
latter the rampart on the S. side of the opening
returns in a curve to behind the rampart on the N. side
of the opening, while on the outer side of the entrance
is a scarp running for some 50 yards in a S.W. direction, thus giving additional protection. Four other
entrances have been cut through the rampart, three on
the S. side and one on the N. side, but these are probably
all modern. The camp was occupied during the Civil
War, when it was probably slightly modified.
Aconbury Camp, being a fortress situated on the summit of Aconbury Hill.
Condition—Becoming badly damaged owing to