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Kilpeck Church
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Kilpeck Church
Kilpeck  locality
Herefordshire  county
England  country
United Kingdom  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
c. 1140
51.970300° N, 2.809180° W

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Description of Kilpeck Church

The small church has a simple plan of nave, chancel and round apse. All features date from the original construction in c.1140 except the window and south door at the east end (added 14th century) and the belfry (added 1840s).

The west window and south door are beautifully carved with figurative and abstract designs and the roofline is populated with cartoonish corbels. The carvings draw their themes from the pilgrim routes in France and Spain and incorporate the artistic traditions of the Vikings, Saxons, Celts, Franks and Spaniards. Some reflect everyday medieval life, some depict mythical beasts and symbolic creatures, while others are abstract decorations. Very few have explicit Christian themes.

The exterior carvings are all of red sandstone, which was probably quarried at nearby Ross-on-Wye. Sandstone is not normally known for its durability, but this Herefordshire form of it seems impervious to weather. The sandstone at Kilpeck has developed a very hard patina and will now only be damaged if water penetrates beneath the skin. In addition, the shafts of the south door are almost one piece with a vertical grain, which further discourages water penetration.

Like the exterior, the interior has remained virtually unchanged since 1140, although it has been whitewashed in post-Reformation style. It is simple and austere, with no Victorian monuments to spoil the overwhelming impression of antiquity.

Holly Hayes
October 12, 2011

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