Lych gate and coffin rest at the Church of St Michael and All Angels


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Brampton Abbotts, Herefordshire


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Statutory Address:
Brampton Abbotts, Herefordshire

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
Brampton Abbotts
National Grid Reference:


Lych gate and coffin rest of 1931 by WD Caroe.

Reasons for Designation

The lych gate at the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Brampton Abbotts, of 1931 by WD Caroe, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a carefully composed design in the Arts and Crafts tradition with its emphases on vernacular building traditions, materials and craftsmanship; * it forms a picturesque entrance to the churchyard, paying careful respect to the medieval church; * it survives well, and its craftsmanship is of good quality.

Historic interest:

* it has strong historic interest for its design by the nationally-renowned architect WD Caroe.

Group value

* the lych gate has strong group value with the Grade II* listed church, and the group of Grade II listed chest tombs.


Lych gates are the ornamental and often picturesque gateways which lead to churchyards, and which possess a symbolic importance as the thresholds between the secular and sacred zones of a parish. Medieval lych gates were used as a meeting point and shelter for burial parties bringing bodies for interment. The group would convene beneath the lych gate, to be met by the priest prior to entering the consecrated churchyard and beginning funerary rituals. Some lych gates had a slab or rest to hold the coffin, and they often had benches inside. Their name derives from the Anglo-Saxon or German word for corpse: lich, or leiche. Lych gates continued to be built throughout the C19 and C20, and later examples, particularly after the First World War, were often erected as memorial structures.

The Church of St Michael (Grade II*) at Brampton Abbotts has Norman origins and, like most medieval churches, continued to evolve over the subsequent centuries. The architect WD Caroe is known to have carried out some refurbishment work at the church around 1907-1908, and he also designed this lych gate which was erected in 1931. The lych gate was erected in memory of Henry Herbert Child of Rudhall by his wife. Rudhall is a large house on the edge of the parish.

Caroe is a well-known architect who was born in Liverpool in 1857, and started his architectural training there in the late 1870s. He later worked on Truro Cathedral and became Senior Architect to the ecclesiastical commissioners in 1895. He produced a considerable amount of ecclesiastical work and was one of the leading church architects of his time, although he also worked on secular projects.


Lych gate and coffin rest of 1931 by W.D. Caroe.

MATERIALS: the lych gate is built of stone and timber under a stone slate roof. The coffin rest is of stone.

PLAN: the lych gate stands at the eastern entrance of the churchyard, approximately 30m east of the church. The coffin rest now stands at the southern end of the churchyard, approximately 30m south of the church.

DESCRIPTION: the lych gate is a gabled structure with gates on its eastern side which mark the entrance to the churchyard. the gates are hung between the stone walls which form the side of the lych gate and which support the structure above which is of thick timber members with carved detailing including an ogee arch above the entrance way and cusped points to the ends and apex of the gable. The joints of the timbers are pegged in the traditional manner. Above the arch is an inscription which reads, "I AM THE WAY".

Internally, there are benches down each side which are closed off at their western ends with stone panels surmounted by scrolled tops. The benches on each side have inscriptions above them. To the east it reads, "AN HIGH WAY SHALL BE THERE AND IT SHALL BE CALLED THE WAY OF HOLINESS". The west side reads, "THE REDEEMED SHALL WALK THERE AND THE RANSOMED OF THE LORD SHALL RETURN". The west gable of the lych gate is in the same style as the east.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the coffin rest, which now stands at the southern side of the churchyard, is of stone and has a raised back section with carved detailing and the date of 1931 carved into the base.


Books and journals
Brooks, A, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire, (2012), 118-119
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for WD Caroe, accessed 18.4.2019 from
Ross Gazette, 8.10.1931


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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