English Churches - Herefordshire

St Bartholomew’s Church, Much Marcle

A nice country church with some splendid monuments

St Bartholomew’s is an impressive 13thC church with a 1,500 year old yew tree in the churchyard. This is now hollow with a seat set inside the trunk, which has a circumference of over 30 feet. It has recently - been pruned  over 6 ton of dead timber and branches were removed.

It is an attractive church with a tall battlemented and buttressed red sandstone tower between the nave and chancel. The rest of the church is built from a pale grey stone. The large C14th Kyrle chapel is built on the south side of the chancel. From the west end, this makes the church look double aisled.

Much Marcle Church

Inside it feels a large church with round pillars with pointed arches separating nave and side aisles.

Much Marcle Church

The two pillars at the crossing have a narrow carved band round the top with carvings of heads, foliage and green men.

Much Marcle Church

At the back is a Norman tub font.

At the back of the north aisle is a lovely painted effigy of William de Helyon d1350. He was a franklin or landed gentleman who lived in nearby Hellen’s Manor House, which he left to his only daughter. The family had been stewards to the Audleys who were related to the powerful Mortimer family.

Much Marcle Church

The effigy is carved from solid oak and would have been overlaid with gesso before being gilded and painted. It would have been placed on the lid of a stone sarcophagus, but is now on a specially built plinth.

He has been restored and repainted in what are believed to be the original colours. He is wearing a deep red coat with gold buttons and a sword and purse on his belt. He is praying and his legs are crossed with his feet resting on a lion. His head is on a pillow.

In a case at the end of the north aisle is a “fragment from the ruins of Ypres Cathedral” brought back by Rev C J Money-Kyrle in 1917. It is a small painted sculpture of the murder of the innocents.

The altar has a beautiful embroidered frontispiece with red roses and gold foliage. In the centre is the Agnus Dei. The reredos was designed by C E Kempe and has a cross in the centre with small metal panels with the symbols of the four evangelists in the corners.  The east window is also by Kempe and has a crucifix in the centre with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side.

Much Marcle Church

On the north wall of the chancel is the tomb of Blanche Mortimer, wife of Sir Peter Grandison and daughter of Sir Roger Mortimer, First Lord of March. It is a a beautiful effigy with long flowing robes with tightly buttoned sleeves. She is holding a rosary in one hand and her feet are resting on a small dog. The effigy is on a tomb chest which contains her body in a lead casket. The base of the tomb and canopy above are covered with the Mortimer and Grandison arms. The tomb has been carefully restored recently and looks resplendent.

Much Marcle Church

Metal gates lead from the chancel into the Kyrle Chapel. This was built in the late 1200s as a chantry chapel,  later becoming the burial place of the Kyrle’s when Sir John Kyrle was a made a baronet in 1627 and needed somewhere suitable for his tomb.

The tomb of Sir John who died in 1660 and his wife Sybil Scudamore who died in 1635 stands in the centre of the chapel. She was a sister of Roger Mortimer and John was her second husband. It is a splendid piece of work. Sir John is in armour and has a ruff and sash with fleur de lys. His feet are resting on a hedgehog. Sybil has a lovely dress with slashed sleeves and necklaces. She has tightly curled hair peeping out from her bonnet. Her feet rest on the Scudamore family crest of a bear’s paw inside a ducal coronet.  

Much Marcle Church

Much Marcle Church

In the corner are two C14th effigies thought to be Hugh, Lord Audley and his wife Isolde. He is in armour with his feet on a lion and his head on a helmet. She has a long flowing dress and sleeves and her hair is arranged in two netted circles on either side of her face.  Her head rests on a cushion held by two young knights in chain mail. At her feet are two dogs with bells round their collars.

On the walls are hatchments and wall memorials to other members of the Kyrle and Money-Kyrle families.

The church is open daily from 9am until dusk. It is set down a small lane to the west of the village. Turning is difficult and there is a sign on the gate asking people not to back into the iron gates of the lych gate as it costs a lot of money to repair them (and probably won’t do the car much good either...)

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