Buildings., Places.

Our visit to Kilpeck Church and Dore Abbey.

Kilpeck Church
Kilpeck Church

This was a double visit to Kilpeck Church and, after lunch at the Kilpeck Inn, onward to Dore Abbey on October 26th.

There were 11 of us plus our guide Penny Platts. It was a lovely way to a day. First, we looked in detail at the church in Kilpeck (about 1hr 30 mins) and many things you would miss if you went without a knowledgeable guide. This was followed by a pleasant lunch where we had our little side area away from other diners so we could talk easily with everyone, not just the person next to us. An hour and a bit later we were on the way to Abbey Dore for our final guided visit. We had a great day.

WAG members visit Kilpeck Church and Castle.
WAG members visit Kilpeck Church and Castle.

The Church of Saint Mary and Saint David, Kilpeck.

It is generally considered to have been a church at Kilpeck, or Cilpedec as it was likely called in medieval times, for almost 900 years. It is thought to have been one of 17 churches consecrated Ergyng by bishop Herewald in the early 11th century in the Welsh borders. At about the same time, Cilpedepec also justified the construction of a motte and bailey castle which is next door to the church but not much remains today except the earthworks. The present church probably dates back to around 1130. However, there was even mention of a church here as far back 640 AD when this was part of Wales.

Kilpeck village
Kilpeck village

Kilpeck church is constructed in the Romanesque style of architecture and is nationally famous for its preserved masonry and stone carvings which have survived the ravages of time in such a remarkable way. Many of the corbels outside the church probably had connections with pagan symbols and they are thought to act as reminders of appropriate behavioural practices and were a method to connect with the illiterate populace of the time. They are fascinating, and yet, as for their original meaning, for the majority of them, we can only conjecture.

Inside the church, the architecture is less graphic but no less interesting.

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Dore Abbey.

In the afternoon we went on to Dore Abbey and arrived with black clouds on the horizon. Our look around the outside of the abbey was curtailed by a sharp, heavy, cold shower. It was very cold inside and I had images of freezing monks in the old days clad in their hair clothing and sandals.

Founded in 1147, what we see at Door Abbey today is the remaining part of the once much larger medieval Cistercian abbey, unusual in that still operates as a parish church.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536 but before it was demolished or fell into total decay, as became many other monasteries, this part was purchased by a local landowner and gent, John Scudamore. The building remained in the family for several generations until his great-grandson, First Viscount, John Scudamore, who’s several children died in infancy, was seeking advice on how to overcome the problem and raise an heir and successor to his family. The advice was to make amends for his ownership and profiting from a monastic property, by restoring the building and returning it to the church. This he did in the 1630’s. It was immediately successful and his next heir survived.

The Church of Saint Mary has been a parish church ever since.

Inside the abbey much is original. The walls are covered in ancient paintings and religious texts.

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