The last church that we visited on 4th September 2017 was that of St John the Bapist and St Alkmund, at Aymestry. Like Wigmore and Brampton Bryan that we also visited that day, it is in the North-west of Herefordshire. Aymestry is a small village that is part of the Mortimer Trail, and the church is to be found just off the A4110, the main road running through the village.
Church of St John the Bapist and St Alkmund
Part of the reason I wanted to visit this church were the exciting survivals, according to Pevsner, at least.¹ Unlike the disappointment of Brampton Bryan, there was plenty to admire here and we had a splendid time exploring the church. My one disappointment was that there is apparently, a plaque in part of the church dated 1735, recording Queen Anne’s Bounty, giving revenues to poor clergy. While 1735 is outside my specific period, it’s unlikely that the economic fortunes of the parish would have changed in 35 years and this would have been useful for my research.
Looking up the central aisle to the chancel, with the splendid early 16th century rood screen. This is only a screen, however, not a gallery. Restored in 1884-6.
This stoup is just inside the main doorway – it is evident that the lip of the original bowl has been removed, perhaps to prevent it being used as a stoup?
The church also has surviving parclose screens of the same date as the rood screen to the left and right of the chancel arch. The Jacobean pulpit can also be seen in this image. Like at Wigmore, but not Clydock, there is no sounding board which would have been important for a church with a strong tradition of preaching.
The view from the pulpit
This is the altar. The reredos behind it is – according to Pevsner – made up of seventeenth century and later carvings which is very exciting for my research.
A Norman era corbel, hands grasping a snout. Anyone who has visited Kilpeck in South Herefordshire will associate this style with that church, the Herefordshire School of Romanesque Scuplture. Pevsner is not illuminating on this – it simply says that it was ‘reset’ in the chancel, with no hint of its origins or even if it WAS from that school. Somewhat frustrating! The guide ‘paddle’ notes it as ‘Herefordshire School Carving’.
The bottom side of the corbel, a Christ-like head.
piscina in the chancel
Communion rails, early eighteenth century
This hole in the roof of the porch seems to be something of a curiosity. the paddles inside the church that had a rough guide on, notes that the hole was ‘formerly used to ring a bell to guide people home at dusk’ but there is nothing in Pevsner about this.
fifteenth-century churchyard cross. The finial at the top is seventeenth century. According to Pevsner, it’s in pieces – so must have been restored since 2012.