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Church of Saint James, Wigmore.

By J W Tonkin F.S.A. B.A.

The dedication is to St. James and as the patronal festival is held in July and

there is a 1 9th Century stained glass window in the south wall of the chancel

depicting St. James the Less it is presumably he to whom the church is dedicated.

As Wigmore Abbey was dedicated to St. James it is possible that the church

dedication to the other apostle of the same name was because of this.

There was a settlement at Wigmore in pre-Norman days and a castle and

borough by the time the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086; so there was

presumably a church here in Saxon times. The near-circular churchyard on a ridge

with a wall around it quite possibly implies a stili earlier foundation in late Celtic

days or the early Dark Ages.

Ralph de Mortimer founded a small college of three canons in the church in

1100, but this seems to have been absorbed by the Abbey when it moved to

Wigmore in the third quarter of the 1 2th Century.


The 14th Century chancel is narrower than its Norman predecessor as can be

seen from the evidence of its tufa quoins in the external east wall of the nave. The

foundations of this earlier chancel were found in 1868 under the present floor and

showed that it was apsidal. The whole character of the east end was changed at

that time for the tall, narrow, typically Norman chancel arch was replaced by the

present much wider arch in the style of the 14th Century.

The windows all have tracery of the Decorated period and are in two centred

arches. The east window has three trefoiled lights whilst the two in the north wall

are each of two cinquefoiled lights and the two in the south wall of two trefoiled

lights, the north windows each having a quatrefoil above the lights. They are both

set in arches with a quarter-round moulding, common in the early 14th Century.

The south doorway of about the same date has a two-centred arch with an ogee


The chancel was restored in 1 868 at a cost of £270 and the stained glass in the

north and south windows could well date from that time. The glass in the east

window is of the Ascension the inscription at the bottom of it reading To the Glory

of God in memory of Charles Vernon who died March 24 1870 aged 15 and of

Reginald William Liet 24th Regiment who died in South Africa Feb. 20 1879 aged

19 sons of Charles and Lucy Franklin this window is erected by their parents and

sister.' At this time the Franklins held the tenancy of Wigmore Hall from the

Kevill-Davies family of Croft Castle.

Beneath the altar is the tomb of the Rev. Alexander Clogie, a real 'Vicar of

Bray' in that he was vicar under Charles I, the Commonwealth, Charles II, James

II and William and Mary with all the changes this implied from High Church to

Puritan and back to High Church. The inscription on his tombslab reads 'Here

lyeth, in hope of a glorious resurrection unto life eternal, the body of that holy,

reverend, and learned divine, Mr. Alexander Clogie, who departed this life 24 Oct.

1698, aged 84, Minister of Wigmore 51 years.' He became quite well-known in

the area and one of his sermons, 'Vox Corvi' (The Voice of the Raven) was

printed, a few copies still existing. He was married at Ludlow on 11 December,

1655, to Susanna, daughter of Mr John Nelmes, Citizen of Gloucester, who

continued to live in Wigmore after his death and was buried here in July, 1711.

In the east jamb of the south-east window is a piscina set below a 14th Century

sunk panel with a trefoiled, ogee-arched head, a typical feature of the earlier part

of that century. Adjoining it to the west beneath the window is a double sedilia

with modern stone seats and a 14th Century shaped stone arm between them.

The stained glass in the north side is of the writers of the Gospels: Mark,

Matthew, Luke and John, while opposite are three of the original apostles:

Thaddeus, Peter and James the Less with Paul in the remaining light.

The arrangement of the choir stalls is a survival of the 17th Century forming a

square around the altar, when the latter was moved away from the sanctuary under

the influence of Puritanism. They are panelled in front and have fleur-de-lys-type

poppyhead finials on the ends. The fronts of the stalls have moulded posts

between the panels and on the front at the top of each of the panels are two

quartrefoils with, between them, a trefoiled, cusped, ogee arch.

The timber ceiling dates from 1868, the chancel not having been ceiled until


Four years previously the carved rood-screen and its gallery had been moved

from the chancel entrance and placed against the east wall as a reredos from where

they have been removed at some later date. The piscina on the southern side of the

nave at screen level presumably implies that there was once an altar on the screen,

a rare feature which is also found in one or two other collegiate churches.


This was restored in 1864 by G. F. Bodley at at cost of £1180, the pews dating

also from that year. Nevertheless the north wall still shows its herring-bone

construction externally, and when it was stripped for replastering in 1978 this

work showed up on the interior. It seems that the original 11th Century building

was probably entirely of this type of construction.

As at Presteigne and Moccas tufa seems to have been used for some of the cut

stone work. This soft travertine is virtually a reconstituted limestone and can be

seen in the banks of the Sapey Brook in the east of the county and at Southstone

Rock on the River Teme. It was an easy stone to cut and then hardened up

afterwards. The quoins at the eastern angles of the nave are of this stone as is the

single-light. Norman window in the south wall just west of the later south arcade

and now inside the church. Also there are some tufa blocks in the lower courses

of the north wall of the chancel.

In the north wall is a 15th Century window of two trefoiled lights, while above

the chancel arch are two trefoiled windows of similar date each with a square

head. At the northern end of the west wall is a doorway of the same age, with a

chamfered, two-centred head, now leading into the boiler room of the church

heating system, but it must have been an external door originally. It is in an

unusual position, but there is no other west or north door. Perhaps there was an

earlier external west door at the end of the nave which has been replaced by the

tower arch.

The roof is a fine example of an early 15th Century, stub-tie-beam type of five

bays with three trenched side purlins. Each truss has curved braces to a collar

forming segmental arches and there is one tier of cusped wind-braces forming

lozenge shaped panels between the second and third purlins, two lozenges to each

bay. It had to be repaired in 1904 and for a time services were held in the south


The early 16th Century decagonal pulpit has seven linenfold-panelled sides

with posts between them, a sill beneath and a rail above. It stands on a central

octagonal post with radiating struts and a base. The posts, sill, rail, struts and base

are all moulded.

The organ in the south-east corner of the nave was given in 1907 in memory of

Queen Victoria and cost £170.

On the west wall above the tower arch are two hatchments but the arms on

them do not appear in The Heraldry of Herefordshire by Strong (1848). However,

in 1988 Mrs B. M. Philpott from Shrewsbury visited the church and identified the

left hand i.e. southern, hatchment as that of Oakley impaled with Banner. This was

probably the hatchment of Richard Oakley of Pen Park near Bristol whose tablet

is on the north wall of the sanctuary and was buried in Wigmore in 1832 aged 65,

having been baptised there in 1767. His wife was Frances Banner. The arms are

Oakley: argent on a fesse between 3 crescents gules as many fleur-de-lys or,

Banner: per pale ermine and or a fleur-de-iys counterchanged, on a canton azure

a lion passant argent.


This was added to the Norman church in the early 14th Century, an arcade of

two bays replacing part of the original walling. These two arches, each of two

chamfered orders spring from an octagonal column and responds with attached

shafts all with moulded capitals, the column having a moulded base of the

'water-holding' type often found in this period.

The east window has a central trefoiled light and two cinquefoiled lights, a

pattern followed by the two windows in the south wall. Externally all three have

moulded labels over the two-centred arch and the western on the south wall has

head-stops at the ends of the label. The west window has two cinquefoiled lights

in a two-centred head with a sex-foiled light above. Again there is a moulded

label. There are some fragments of 14th Century glass still remaining in the

eastern window of the south wall.

The trusses of the original roof of five bays of braced tie-beams with braced

collars above and one tier of foiled wind-braces are still intact although the actual

roof covering and much of the intermediate timber work were replaced in 1900 at

a cost of £200 when they had deteriorated into a dangerous state.

Against the nave wall are a row of unweathered corbels which carry the roof

timbers and were presumably inserted into the Norman wall when the aisle was


In the south wall of the sanctuary is a trefoil-headed piscina, the altar itself

being of early 17th Century construction with turned legs. On the north side is an

opening with a four-centred head, probably of the early 16th Century. At first sight

it looks like a squint, but it is not possible to see the high altar from it; what

purpose it is difficult to decide, but it could be an adaptation of a former stairs to

the rood loft.

On the wall of the aisle just east of the doorway is the Royal Coat of Arms of

William IV. It is dated 1831 and bears the names of William Palmer and William

Hill, Churchwardens 1831.

Just inside the main entrance is the octagonal font with a hollowed under edge

to the bowl on an octagonal stem now standing on a modern octagonal base. The

font and stem appear to be contemporary with the aisle as is the stoup recess just

east of the south doorway.

This, the main entrance to the church, is also of early 14th Century workmanship

with heavy quarter-round moulded jambs and a two-centred arch.

The south aisle seems to have been built as a chantry chapel to St. Mary in

accordance with the will of John Lenthall who left money for a priest to serve it.

At the time of the Dissolution of the chantries in 1546 it was worth £5 19s 1d per

annum, of which £5 18s 7d was used for the maintenance of a priest. It owned

considerable property in Wigmore itself and a little outside the village, the value

of its ornaments at that time being £2 15s 8d.

In November, 1645, Richard Symonds in his 'Diary of the Marches' wrote

about this aisle describing the east window as Very old and large' with stained

glass bearing the coat of arms of the Mortimers at various times in their history.

He goes on to say 'on a tombstone in the chapel is the figure of one in armour; in

his shield are engraved the three greyhounds which makes good the report of its

being a tomb of the Wigmores, and that family were originally possessors of some

land in that parish, which entitled them to their names, and to a chapel and burying

place in that church. The letters on the stone seem to be very ancient in character.'


This two-bay north aisle, known in earlier times as Harroldes Chapel, appears

to be a mid 14th Century addition. The sunk chamfers, the octagonal capital with

miniature battlements and the very simple base of the column are typical of work

at Ludlow and Richards Castle about the same time and almost certainly by the

same group of masons.

The north window has the normal ogee-moulded jambs of the period, but the

mullions have a stepped chamfer, again typical of the time, but the only example

in this church. The east wall is modern, having been built when the aisle was

shortened in 1865.

In 1551 John Smart, who had been the last Abbot of Wigmore, requested in his

will to be buried in this chapel. He was titular Bishop of Padua and had become

Abbot of Wigmore on 20 June, 1518, remaining there until the Dissolution in

1536. He then continued to live in Wigmore, apparently with a family called

Griffiths. If he was buried here the evidence was perhaps lost when the western

bay of the chapel was converted into the Kevill-Davies family pew in the 18th

Century. In 1797 this was described in 'A Walk through Wales in August 1797' by

the Rev. Richard Warner as follows 'It is fitted up with every accommodation of

ease, and refinement of luxury; an elegant Buzaglo stove, a handsome figured

carpet, half a dozen fashionable chairs, and a most splendid crimson velvet

curtain, adorning, with its fantastic festoons, the plain arch in front of the pew . .

. The lightsome decorations of a modern, drawing room assimilate but aukwarkly

with the solemnity of a Gothic pile.'

The wooden floor of this chapel was removed and the stone floor restored in


The roof was constructed in 1865 from oak from the south aisle and is now

ceiled. Perhaps this removal of some of the timbers is what caused the trouble in

that roof a generation later. Symons wrote in 1645 'Some grand tombes of the

Harleyes, and one high tomb of the Croft's, inhabitants of the Berry, neare that in

the church on the north side in a chappie called Harrolds chappie or chancell.

There is these coates in the windowes.' He then goes on to describe a stained glass

window with Mortimer Bohun and Montacute arms in it.


At the west end, the mid 14th Century, 61 feet high tower is entered by a

two-centred arch of three continuous chamfered orders. It is of four stages and has

a moulded plinth at the base externally.

On the ground floor the west window has two trefoiled ogee lights in a square

head. The sill is a reused medieval stone altar which still has its consecration

crosses on it. In the same room which is used as a vestry, are a 17th Century

cupboard with panelled doors and ends and the door to the turret staircase is of the

same period with strap hinges.

The second stage has a narrow loop-light on to the nave and one trefoiled light

in each of the other three walls, while the third stage has a doorway with a

shouldered head opening into the nave roof and one square-headed light in each

of the other walls. The bell chamber has a trefoiled light in each wall. There are

six bells dated 1721, one having been recast in 1889, and a small Sanctus bell also

dated 1721. The tower was restored and the bells rehung in 1881 at a cost of £300.

The clock is an old one, the face dating probably from the 18th Century though

the striker to the bell bears the date 1821. The wrought-iron weather vane with its

cockerel above is early 18th Century.


This is part of the 1864 restoration and was built in the style of the later 14th

Century with cusped decoration and quatrefoils on the barge-boards.


The registers are complete from 1572.

The church plate still includes its Elizabethan chalice and cover paten dated

1571 and also a paten on a foot by Thomas Tearle, 1726, another chalice, 1754,

and a flagon of 1795.

Preserved in the south aisle on a stone seat around the font are a stone, carved

cherub-head, a mortar and part of an octagonal stone bowl. These heads are now

in the British Museum.


Most of these are to the Davies and Kevill-Davies families of Croft Castle and

Wigmore Hall and are in the north aisle which for a time was the Kevill-Davies

family pew, the vault still remaining under the chapel. They date from 1738-1862.

Other monuments include William Bridgwater who died in 1752, John Mason of

Limebrook, 1762, John Palmer, 1796, John and Mary Child, 1803 and 1847

respectively, of the Bury, John Thomas, 1832, silversmith of London, who had

been born at the Bury in 1759, and Frank Allnutt Powell-Akroyd of the Hall, who

was killed in France in 1918.

There is a War Memorial in the south asile to the dead of the two World Wars

and an oak shelf under this commemorates William Bamford who was Vicar from

1896 to 1921.


The north wall shows the herring-bone masonry of the late 11th Century in the

local Silurian limestone. The other walls are now faced in coursed rubble of a

mixture of Downtonian sandstone and Silurian limestone, with well-cut ashlar

quoins of the former. All the dressed stonework of doorways and windows is also

Downtonian sandstone, some of it red but some almost grey in colour.

The restoration in 1864 by Bodley can be noted in the apparently well-preserved

parts of the windows. The priest's doorway in the south wall of the chancel

has 14th Century double ogee (or brakcet) moulded jambs, but the scratch dial

recorded by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in the 1920s can no

longer be seen. On the north side just west of the chancel is the red sandstone

piscina which has been exposed since the demolition of the east bay of the north

chapel over a century ago.

The steeply-pitched roofs are covered with machine-made Broseley pattern

clay tiles, the chancel having plain blue Staffordshire ridging whilst the nave and

porch have ornamental redware ridging.

The Churchyard Cross is much restored, but on the west side of the 14th

Century base is an ogee-headed niche of a type found in a number of churches

along the Marches. In pre-Reformation times it was used during Holy Week in the

same way as an Easter Sepulchre is used in most parts of the country, viz. to house

the Host which for most of the year would be kept in a tabernacle on an altar in

the church.

Just outside the east end of the chancel are two coffin-shaped tombs of stones

laid on edge.

The churchyard was closed for burials in 1901, a new cemetery having been

opened in 1899. The vicar and church council opted for it to become an official

Closed Churchyard in 1949/50. At the west end of the churchyard the iron gate

has a 'shelf about half way up. It is a most unusual feature and it has been

suggested that it may possibly have been used for the distribution of charity bread.


The present vicarage is a little distance from the church on the north side of Ford

Street, a typical 1960s Church Commissioners' brick parsonage. It replaced a

mid-Victorian house, a little to the west which is now a Home. This in turn had

replaced a much earlier building the foundations of which were found on the south

side of Castle Street just south-west of the church-yard when bungalows were

being built there in the 1970s. Following the amalgamation the vicarage became

redundant and was sold into private ownership.


The earliest reference in the Bishop's Registers to an incumbent of the parish is in

1277 when on 18 September Adam de Wigmore was ordained deacon. From that

date onward the following is a list of vicars which is complete from 1560 to the

present day but may not be for the earlier period.

On 1st January, 1997, by Order in Council, Wigmore became part of Wigmore

Abbey Parish, enlarged to nine churches, the Priest in Charge becoming Rector.

Date(s) Vicar Patron

18 September 1277 Adam de Wigmore ordained Deacon

September 1278 Adam de Wigmore sworn as Presbiter

20 June 1304 William de Oldbury, acolyte Abbot & Convent

of Wigmore

1328 Walter de Bras resigned

23 December 1328 John de Stepilton

21 December 1330 Walter de Wigmore

3 August 1346 Walter unable from age & blindness

to fulfil his duties

William Vicar of Dilwyn, co-adjutor

1415 John Mode resigned because of age

19 Feb 1415 David Gyllos (resigned 1447 because of age)

17 April 1447 William Cogh

3 April 1462 Thomas Clarke

19 February 1481 John Burton

1521 Richard Burley died

22 August 1524 Richard Fitzurse John Fitzurse, gen.

Thomas Longford

(granted to him by John

Furbour of Shrewsbury)

24 July 1528 Richard Furbour Bishop of Hereford

who continues as

patron to this day

1560 Edward Legge

1564 Richard Palfrey

Date(s) Priest Status

1569 William Cragge

1573- 1622 John Bridgwater

1622- 1647 William Stephenson, M.A.

1647- 1698 Alexander Clogie

1699- 1711 Robert Comyn M.A.,

1711- 1733 David Evans

1733- 1738 Robert Oakley, M.A

1738- 1757 Edward Davies, B. A.

1757- 1774 James Beynon

1774- 1790 Richard Palmer, B.A.

1790- 1821 John Grubb, B.A.

1821- 1821 William Evans M.A.

1821- 1830 David Williams

1830- 1831 Joseph Heath, M.A

1831- 1842 John Taylor, D.D

1842- 1871 John Joseph Trollope, B.A.

1871- 1895 Edwin Barton, LL.B.

1895- 1921 William Bamford, M.A.

1921- 1930 Edward Irving Watson, L.Div.

1930- 1935 Thomas Lawrence

1936- 1941 John Rowley Donald, M.A.

1942- 1945 C. P. Lester

1945- 1947 Albert Henry Bromfield

1947- 1952 E. Charles

1953- 1963 G. Samuel Smith

1965- 1972 Paul C. Sykes

1972- 1976 David W. Dale Priest in Church as Rector of

the Parish of Wigmore Abbey

1976- 1985 Richard H. Smith Priest in Charge as Rector of

the Parish of Wigmore Abbey

1985- 1992 Edgar J. Bryant, B.A. (Pastoral care 1986)

1992- 1995 Jonathon Robinson Priest in charge

1997- 1998 Andrew Talbot-Ponsonby Rector

1999- 2009 Sylvia J. Turner Rector

2009 Jan. 2009 Nov. ~ Interregnum

2009- - Michael Catling M.A. Rector


Although the Wigmore parish registers commence in 1572 it is not possible

to compile a complete list from that date. In the early registers it was usual

for the vicar and churchwardens, (usually two), each to sign at the bottom

of each page of the register. The churchwardens' accounts for Wigmore

exist from 1761 to 1824, the vestry minutes from 1837 and the overseers

of the poor accounts 1795 to 1826. From these sources the

following list is as complete and accurate as possible.

1572 -1599 Taylor Edward Harrington

1741 Edward Morgan Daniel Prince

1742 Samuel Davies John Norton

1743 Samuel Davies John Norton

1757 Aaron Thomas William Phillips

1758 John Oakley Stephen Maund

1759 John Oakley Stephen Maund

1760 William Monnington Edward Morgan

1761 Richard Prince William Matthews

1762 Matthias Price Thomas Prince

1763 Daniel Prince Samual Millichamp

1764 William Stones Edward Probert

1765 Robert Pennie Aaron Thomas

1766 Robert Pennie Thomas Barker

1767 Robert Pennie Stephen Maund

1768 Daniel Prince Thomas Mason

1769 Samuel Millichamp William Millichamp

1770 Thomas Barker Thomas Strainge

1771 Thomas Barker Thomas Prosser

1772 Thomas Prosser Stephen Maund

1773 Daniel Prince Thomas Mason

1774 Daniel Prince Peter Webb

1775 John Oakley Benjamin Hill

1776 William Lambeard Robert Pennie

1777 William Lambert John Palmer

1778 John Oakley Thomas Strange

1779 John Oakley James Allen

1780 James Prince Richard Morris

1781 William Monnington Richard Morris

1782 Edward Tew Richard Oliver

1783 Edward Tew John Palmer

1784 James Prince John Palmer

1785 James Prince John Oakley

1786 Walter Varnalls James Allen

1787 James Allen John Prince

1788 John Prince Samuel Joyce

1789 Samuel Joyce John Oakley

1790 John Oakley Samuel Joyce

1791 John Price William Harries

1792 John Price William Lambert

1793 William Lambert John Price

1794 John Oakley Richard Oliver

1795 Richard Oliver Richard Mason

1796 Richard Oliver John Child

1797 Richard Oliver John Child

1798 John Child John Prince

1799 John Child John Prince

1800 John Child John Prince

1801 John Price William Pierce

1802 John Price William Pearse

1803 Edward Manwaring Richard Mason

1804 Edward Manwaring Richard Mason

1805 Richard Prince Thomas Jones

1806 Thomas Jones Richard Prince

1807 John Child Richard Prince

1808 John Child Richard Prince

1809 Samuel Meredith Richard Mason

1810 Samuel Meredith William Pearse

1811 William Crump John Prince

1812 William Crump John Prince

1813 Mathew Jones William Pearse

1814 John Price Matthew Jones

1815 John Muscott John Child

1817 John Muscott John Child

1818 John Child Richard Prince

1820 Thomas Jones Richard Prince

1821 Thomas Jones Thomas Bowen

1822 Thomas Bowen Richard Harper

1823 Thomas Muscott Edmund Price

1824 Richard Harper Matthew Jones

1825 Matthew Jones Richard Prince

1826 Richard Prince Thomas Jones

1827 Thomas Muscott Edmund Price

1828 Edmund Price John Prince

1830 William Palmer William Hill

1832 John Child John Owens

1837 William Palmer Thomas Bowen

1838 William Palmer Thomas Jones

1839 William Palmer Richard Prince

1840 Thomas Muscott Richard Harper

1842 Thomas Bowen George Bowen

1843 Thomas Bowen George Bowen

1845 Thomas Bowen John Owens

1847 William Child Edmund Price

1853 Edmund Parkes -

1869 William Monnington George Evans

1870 William Monnington George Evans

1872 John Young

1873 John Young Edmund Darby

1875 Major-General C.T. Franklin &

William Vale

1876 Major-General C.T. Franklin &


1877 Major-General C.T. Franklin &

William Monningtor

1878 Major-General C.T. Franklin &

Richard Mytton

1879 Major-General C.T. Franklin &

Thomas Jones & Richard Mytton

1880 George Evans William Lewis

1881 George Evans William Lewis

1882 John Monnington Isiah Watkins

1883 William Lewis James Evans

1884 William Lewis Thomas Jones

1885 William Jones Thomas Jones

1886 William Lewis Thomas Jones

1887 Thomas Jones William Lewis

1888-90 Thomas Jones William Lewis

1891-92 John Bywater Thomas Hancocks

1893-96 William Monnington Emanual Stead

1897 John Byewater Thomas Edwards

1898 John Byewater -

1899 John Byewater Thomas Simonson

1900-13 John Byewater John W Palmer

1914-16 John Byewater George Drew

1917-19 Edmund Jones William Mason

1920-30 Richard H Griffiths William Mason

1931 A E Williams Royes S Coles

1932-33 Royes S Coles Sgt. Jones

1934-48 Royes S Coles A E Williams

1949-50 Mrs Coles Robert Bengry

1951-52 Mr Mason Mrs Coles

1953 Mr Mason Mr Middleton

1954 Ralph Sargisson Mr Middleton

1955-58 Ralph Sargisson R Jones

1959-65 Warwick Cheney Capt. J J C Allen

1966-67 Warwick Cheney T Wilson Wright

1968 Warwick Cheney Albert E Vines

1969-72 Warwick Cheney -

1973-76 Warwick Cheney Richard Massey

1977 Miss E Griffiths Richard Massey

Michael L Jones Mrs V Bengry

1978-87 John G Mills Michael L Jones

1988-90 John G Mills Peter Halliwell

1990-91 Maurice Cropper Peter Halliwell

1991 -92 Maurice Cropper Maj. Arthur Jones

1992-95 Maj. Arthur Jones -

1995-02 John G Mills -

2003 - Richard Baily John Markland

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