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
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.
THE SOUTH AISLE
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.'
THE NORTH CHAPEL
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 EXTERIOR and THE CHURCHYARD
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
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.
VICARS OF WIGMORE
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
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.
(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
CHURCHWARDENS OF WIGMORE
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 &
1876 Major-General C.T. Franklin &
1877 Major-General C.T. Franklin &
1878 Major-General C.T. Franklin &
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