Grid Ref: SO 446 304
Dates: 20 August 2019


Kilpeck is a hamlet about 9 miles southwest of Hereford and about five miles from the border with Wales.  On a small hill there are the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle while at the foot of the hill is a remarkable Norman Church dedicated to Saints Mary and David.

Kilpeck was in the Ergyng, a Welsh kingdom until taken over by Mercia in the 9th century.  With the coming of the Normas the area was called Archefield and became part of the so-called Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales ruled by the kingdom's "Marcher Lords".  The area became part of Herefordshire in the 16th century.  It is thought that the name Kilpeck derives from Kil Peddeg meaning "the cell of Pedic" who must have been a hermit. 

In 1086, the Domesday Book notes that William I gave the area of one William Fitz Norman de la Mare son of Norman de la Mare (Fitz means son of).  There may have been a chapel on the site from as early as the 7th century and there are signs of an enclosure of 200 yards by 300 which may indicate an Anglo-Saxon village.  The castle was build by William Fitz Norman or according to one source by his son Hugh and believed to date from about 1090.  William's grandson, Henry, took the name Henry de Kilpeck.  His grandson, Hugh de Kilpeck, is mentioned in 1248 and in the time of Edward II (1307-27) Alan de Plokenet held Kilpeck and obtained a charter for a market on Fridays and "fair on the eve and day of the Assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary."

The church is mentioned in a charter of about 850 when it was a gift with an estate to Bishop Crecielis.  The fact that the graveyard was originally rounded suggests that the chapel was on an even earlier religious site.  The current church is from the period 1134 to 1145 which was during the so-called Anarchy (1135-53) when King Stephen and his cousin the Empress Matilda battled over the crown.  Both were grandchildren of William 1.  There is some Saxon masonry evident in a corner of the nave.  The church, built by Hugh de Kilpeck is noted for its sculpture, which would have been painted.  It is believed to be the best surviving example of the Hereford School of Sculpture and was produced about the time that the church was given to the Benedictine Abbey of Gloucester in 1143.  Near the church site there was a priory belonging to this abbey.  Of particular note are the sculpures of the south doorway and chancel arch and the 85 corbells.  The latter includes a sheela-na-gig which is believed to be a fertility symbol.



Remains of Castle
Remains of Kilpeck Castle
The Church of St. Mary and St. David
Door Arch
South Door Arch
Nave and Chancel
The Nave and Chancel from the 17th Century Gallery
Apse spacer Gargoyles
Apse   Four of the many remarkable corbels.
Font   Chancel Arch
Font   Chancel Arch


Wikipedia Article on Kilpeck
Kilpeck Parish Council webpage  
Castles of Wales

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