St Michael's Church, churchyard and standing cross immediately east of Dulas Court
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 03:04:51.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 37111 29556
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. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.
St Michael's Church, churchyard and cross immediately east of Dulas Court have survived for a period of at least 800 years and remained undisturbed since the 19th century, when a new church was built 150m to the south west. The church was demolished to ground level and will survive as a buried feature. The remains of earlier phases of church buildings predating its documented history may also survive beneath the later church and churchyard. These buried building remains will provide evidence about building techniques and materials as well as information about ritual practices and decorative schemes over time. The churchyard will preserve the skeletal remains of the inhabitants of the region, from at least the 12th century until the mid 19th century, and may include earlier remains which will illuminate the earlier history of the area. In addition, the churchyard will contain an extensive sample of the rural population from the times prior to the development of the large scale social and geographic mobility of the modern period. This population will provide information about the dietary conditions, age and health of the rural population, and will allow statistical analysis of the changes in the population of the area. In addition the survival of burial goods and artefacts such as coffin fittings will provide information about funerary practices throughout the medieval and post-medieval period. The medieval churchyard cross originally stood close to the entrance to the church and survived its demolition. Used for a variety of religious and secular activities, the cross also acted as a landmark and focus throughout the Middle Ages. Its survival demonstrates that it continued to act as a public landmark into the modern period.
The monument includes the known surviving extent of the buried and masonry
remains of St Michael's Church, including its medieval standing cross,
memorial stones and churchyard, located on gently rising ground on the south
side of the valley of the Dulas Brook close to the Welsh border.
St Michael's Church was frequently flooded and by the 19th century it had
fallen into disrepair and was demolished, to be replaced by another church
sited 150m to the south west on higher ground. Although little is known of
the origins of St Michael's Church, the earliest stonework linked to it
dates from the early 12th century. Rescued fragments relocated in the
replacement church included the altar slab and Norman font as well as an
early 13th century bell and a set of 17th century chairs. Together these
artefacts suggest that the church had its origins prior to the early 12th
century and continued in regular use until its demolition. Antiquarian sources
suggest that the church may have been linked to a small Norman priory founded
at Ewyas Harold Castle which lies just over 1.6km to the west, although this
has not been confirmed.
When the Church of St Michael was razed to ground level following its
demolition, its site was incorporated into the gardens of Dulas Court. There
are however, three surviving monuments from the church, two grave slabs of the
mid-19th century, one a ledger slab and the other a cruciform slab, and a
standing cross, believed to be of 14th century date.
The standing cross is Listed Grade II and of soft red sandstone, stepped form
and principally medieval in date. It stands immediately to the south of the
buried remains of the church and includes the foundations, base, socket stone
and the surviving fragment of shaft. The base is square in plan and
constructed of rough rubble with three steps on the north side. The socket
stone changes from square to octagonal by means of half pyramid stops at the
angles, and measures 0.75m square by at least 0.6m high. The shaft rises
through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section and the full height
of the cross is over 1.5m.
The survival of the medieval cross and the later burial slabs in situ suggest
that the creation of the lawns for Dulas Court did not disturb the burials
within the churchyard.
The circuit of the churchyard, which appears to have been roughly circular, is
preserved in the plan of a series of dwarf walls to the north and east.
These are believed to be the foundations of the churchyard wall which are
retained as garden features. The extent of the churchyard is confirmed by
recent documents indicating the area of land which remained in ecclesiastical
ownership until the 1990s.
A small early 12th century arch was removed from the church and rebuilt 100m
to the north as the entrance to the walled gardens. The arch is semi-circular
with a span of 1.6m. It has one moulded order, and springs from attached
shafts with weathered bases and capitols carved with scrolls and large
scallops. The left abacus has a small carved face. The arch has been removed
from its original context and is not included in the scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
various SMR Officers, St Michaels Dulas, unpublished noted in SMR
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