Church of St Giles, Downton on the Rock
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003536
Date first listed: 09-Feb-1951
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Mar-2019 at 09:01:40.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 42804 73414
Part of the parish church of St Giles, Downton on the Rock.
Reasons for Designation
A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement.
This part of the parish church of St Giles, Downton on the Rock survives comparatively well despite its long abandonment and subsequent re-use and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, social, spiritual, ritual and economic significance and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 27 May 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The scheduling includes a partly ruined parish church dedicated to St Giles and situated within its graveyard on a sloping ridge overlooking the valley of the River Teme. The church survives as the upstanding walls and buried features associated with the roofless nave and the fully standing, restored and roofed chancel with its buried features. The north and south walls of the nave stand from 1m up to 2m high, the west and east gable walls are full height and the dividing wall with chancel arch is also full height and incorporated as the end wall of the restored chancel complete with some original steps to the chancel loft.
The church was originally built in the 12th century with some 13th and 17th century amendments or repairs including the construction of a possible bell cote which no longer survives. It was abandoned in 1861-2 following the construction of a new church and was deconsecrated in 1937. The chancel restoration has been undertaken recently with archaeological recording and a geological and fabric survey of the stone used in its construction being undertaken in 1993.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: HE 132
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 108827, Herefordshire SMR 1644
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing