5 BIRLEY (D.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XIX, S.W., (b)XXVI, N.W.)
Birley is a parish 4½ m. S.W. of Leominster. The
church is the principal monument.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Peter (Plate 6) stands
in the middle of the parish. The walls are of local
sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material;
the roofs are tiled. The Nave may date from the 12th
century, but there is little evidence of this. Probably
at the beginning of the 13th century the West Tower
was added. The Chancel was perhaps re-built during
the same century though the chancel-arch dates from
c. 1330. The South Chapel was added late in the 14th
or early in the 15th century. The timber top stage
of the tower was added perhaps in the 17th century.
In 1873–4 the chancel and nave were re-built from a
few feet above the floor-level, and the stonework of the
windows and doorway restored or re-tooled; the
chancel-arch also was reconstructed. The Vestry and
South Porch were added at the same time.
The chancel-arch has unusual detail, and among the
fittings the font is noteworthy.
The Church, Plan
Architectural Description—The Chancel (24 ft. by
16¾ ft.) has a modern E. window incorporating some
old stones. In the N. wall is a modern window, and
further W. is a modern doorway. In the S. wall are
two windows, the eastern modern, but with some old
stones, and the western probably a 13th-century lancet
restored and re-tooled; between them is a doorway
with 13th-century jambs and modern head. The reconstructed chancel-arch (Plate 87), of c. 1330, is two-centred and of two moulded orders with a moulded label;
the outer order has ball-flower ornament; the moulded
responds have each three grouped shafts, those on the
N. with moulded and enriched capitals, and a common
moulded abacus continued round the W. side of the
respond; the S. shafts have capitals (Plate 16) carved
with dogs' heads, a fleur-de-lis, etc., and a common
panelled abacus, continued round the W. side of the
respond and carved with foliage and a leopard; the
eastern angles of the responds finish with moulded
corbels below the level of the main capitals; both
corbels are carved with heads.
The Nave (38 ft. by 20¼ ft.) has, in the N. wall, three
windows, re-set and more or less restored; the late
13th-century easternmost and westernmost windows
are each of two pointed lights with a plain spandrel
in a two-centred head; the 13th-century middle window
is a single lancet-light. In the S. wall is a late 14th or
early 15th-century arch, two-centred, and of two
chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner
with moulded imposts and chamfered bases; in the E.
respond is a roughly-cut squint; further W. are two
windows, the eastern a partly restored 13th-century
lancet-window and the western modern; the much
restored S. doorway is perhaps of 12th-century date,
and has chamfered jambs and round arch.
The South Chapel (13¼ ft. by 10¾ ft.) has, in each outer
wall, a late 14th-century window of four trefoiled ogee
lights in a square head. The S. wall has a timber-framed gable, perhaps of the 17th century.
The West Tower (11¾ ft. square) is of four stages, the
three lower of masonry with a battering plinth, and the
top stage of timber covered with shingles and finished
with a pyramidal roof. The segmental-pointed tower-arch, of c. 1200, is of two chamfered orders; the
responds have each a small attached and filleted shaft
with simple foliated capitals and square abaci. The
N., S. and W. walls of the ground-stage have each a
window of one round-headed light. The second stage
has, in the N. and S. walls, a window of one pointed
light; in the E. wall is a rough doorway. The third
stage has now no floor; each wall has a single-light
window, that on the E. with a square head and the
other three roughly pointed. The timber bell-chamber
is modern, but incorporates some timbers probably of
The Roof of the S. chapel appears to have been
originally flat; the existing gabled roof is perhaps of
the 17th century, but the foiled wind-braces, and perhaps other timbers, may be earlier material re-used.
Fittings—Bells: three; 2nd, uninscribed, 17th-century; 3rd of 1671. Bier: In tower—of planks and
square framing with chamfered legs, inscribed on one
side, "Francis Sheriffe: William Rogers: Wardens:
1672, A. F. C." Communion Table: with turned legs,
reeded lower and carved upper rails, early 17th-century.
Font (Plate 54): round bowl with three-strand interlaced band, short stem with intersecting arcading,
moulded base with interlacing ornament and plinth with
diapered ornament, late 12th-century. Glass: fragments
in tracery of W. window of S. chapel. Locker: In
second stage of tower—in E. wall, rectangular recess
with heavy oak frame and door, date uncertain.
Piscinæ: In chancel—recess with cinque-foiled head and
projecting quatre-foiled drain, 14th-century, restored or
re-cut. In nave—in S. wall, recess with ogee head
and modern sill, 14th-century, probably re-set. In S.
chapel—in S. wall, recess with square head and round
drain, late 14th-century. Pulpit (Plate 70): of semi-octagonal plan, each face with two panels, the lower
having a rosette ornament and the upper an enriched
arch, entablature with guilloche-ornament on frieze,
half-baluster ornaments on posts; on S.W. side small
shaped shield with the date 1633.
Condition—Good, largely re-built.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys,
timber-framed and with stone, slate, tile or ironcovered roofs. Much of the external timber-framing
is exposed, as are the ceiling-beams.
a(2). Cottage, 100 yards S. of the church, has a
a(3). House (Plate 24), now two tenements, 100
yards W.S.W. of the church, has a later addition at
b(4). House, now three tenements, on the E. side of
the road about 1 m. S.S.W. of the church, is of L-shaped
plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W.
The W. wing is lower than the main block.
b(5). House, 60 yards S. of (4), is partly in King's
b(6). Cottage, 270 yards S.S.E. of (5), has been largely