20 DOWNTON ON THE ROCK (C.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. II, S.E.)
Downton is a parish on the left bank of the Teme,
10 m. N.N.W. of Leominster. The old church, now
ruined, with interesting remains of paintings and rood-loft, is the principal monument.
(1). Old Parish Church of St. Giles (Plate 14)
stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of
local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same
material. The roofs, where surviving, are covered with
stone slates. The Chancel and Nave were built about the
middle of the 12th century. The S. wall of the chancel
was re-built late in the 13th century. The E. wall was
probably re-built at some uncertain date; from the
square proportions of the chancel it is not unlikely
that this wall replaced an arch opening into an apse.
A wall was built across the W. end of the nave probably
in the 17th century to support a bell-cote, which has
now disappeared. The modern church was built,
in the N. part of the parish, in 1861, and from that date
the old church has been suffered to fall into complete
The church has remains of an interesting series or
wall-paintings, and the rood-loft is noteworthy.
Downton on the Rock, the Old Parish Church of St Giles
Architectural Description—The Chancel (Plate 14)
(16 ft. by 16¼ ft.) has a gap high up in the E. wall, from
which the single-light window has fallen. In the N. wall
is a late 13th-century window of one small pointed light.
In the S. wall is a late 13th-century window of two trefoiled lights; the base of the wall has an internal offset,
probably representing the thickness of the 12th-century
wall. The 12th-century chancel-arch is round and of
one plain order with hollow-chamfered imposts
and chamfered plinths; to the N. is the rood-loft
staircase, of the 15th century, with the lower doorway
on the E. and the upper on the W.; both have square
heads and wooden frames.
The Nave (Plate 14) (46¼ ft. by 19½ ft.) has, in the N.
wall, a late 13th-century window of two trefoiled lights
with a trefoil in a two-centred head; the 12th-century
N. doorway has a round head of one plain order and
grooved and hollow-chamfered imposts. In the S.
wall was a window similar to that on the N., but now
partly fallen; the S. doorway was probably similar
to the N. doorway, but only parts of the jambs remain.
Across the nave, about 6 ft. E. of the W. wall, is an
inserted 17th-century wall containing a square-headed
doorway with an oak frame and, further N., a small
hatch. The W. wall has probably been re-built with
old materials and has no openings.
The Roof of the chancel has been removed except for
one tie-beam. The greater part of the two E. bays
of the 14th-century roof of the nave is still in position;
timbers from the other part are now lying on the floor;
the trusses have cambered collars with curved braces
forming two-centred arches; the lower purlins have
trefoiled wind-braces. The easternmost bay has been
ceiled with boarding early in the 16th century to form
a canopy to the rood-loft; the moulded and embattled
ribs on the main braces remain, together with the
moulded longitudinal ribs; the E. truss is boarded to
form a tympanum.
Fittings—Bell: In modern church—small and uninscribed, probably 17th-century. Chest: In modern
church—with panelled front and lid, c. 1650. Font:
round base only remains. Monument and Floor-slabs:
Monument: In chancel—on E. wall, to George
Haughton, 1694, stone and slate tablet with moulded
and draped frame, cornice and broken pediment and
enriched apron. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to
Dorothy, wife of Samuel Hopkins, 1673–4. In nave—
(2) to George Haughton, 1694, and Jane, his wife;
also to Mary, his widow, subsequently wife of Edward
Baughe, 1698, with shield-of-arms; (3) to Margaret,
daughter of Adam Price, 1683; (4) to Adam Price,
1683–4. Paintings: In nave—on N. wall, diapered
background in red and white with remains of three
figures including a figure holding a book; higher up is
an S-shaped trumpet; on S. wall, similar diaper and
traces of a figure, late mediæval. Plate: includes cup
and cover-paten of 1571, the former with a band of
engraved ornament; cup in modern church, paten at
Burrington. Rood-loft: with moulded front beam,
plain back beam and joists, early 16th-century, boarding
gone. Miscellanea. In nave—on S. wall wrought
iron bracket with fleur-de-lis, for funeral achievement,
probably 17th century.
Condition—Ruined, and S. wall of nave partly fallen.
(2). House, about 150 yards W.S.W. of the old
church, is of three storeys, partly timber-framed and
partly of brick; the roofs are slate-covered. It was
built in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the
wings extending towards the N. and W. There are
later additions on the E. side. Some of the timber-framing is exposed. Inside the building is a mid
17th-century staircase with moulded strings and square
newels; the balusters have been removed. One room
is lined with original and one with early 18th-century
(3). Hotel Cottage, 300 yards S. of the old church,
is of two storeys, timber-framed and with tile and stoneslate covered roofs. It was built in the 17th century,
and has exposed external timber-framing and ceiling-beams. Built into the main chimney-stack are some
mediæval carved stones, including one with a heraldic
(4). Downton Camp (Plan, p. xxviii), on a hill-side
above the river Teme, and 340 yards S.S.E. of the old
church, has an area including the defences of about
½ acre. The work is of irregular shape, the S. end being
protected by a scarp and natural precipitous rock fall.
The remainder of the enclosure is protected by a rampart
and outer ditch, the latter now only appearing as a
berm on the N.E. and disappearing altogether on the
S.E., where also the rampart dies out before reaching
the southern boundary. The ground slopes rapidly
down towards the N.E., and the rampart on this side
of the enclosure is not so high as that on the W. and N.
There is an entrance at the N. end. What would
appear to be an old trackway runs along the berm
formed between the foot of the scarp and the precipice,
and apparently led to the ford; the position of the
latter, and the command of the same, probably accounts
for the position of this enclosure.
(5). Mound, 100 yards N.W. of the old church, is
about 68 ft. in diameter at the base and rises about 10 ft.
above the general surface. There is a rough sinking
on the top.