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English Church Architecture -

Herefordshire (U.A.).

 

CROFT, St. Michael & All Angels (SO 451 654)     (May 2015)

(Bedrock:  Silurian Ludlow Series, Whitcliffe Formation)

 

This little church (seen above from the north), formed of a chancel, nave, and wooden belfry surmounted by an ogee leaded dome, forms an attractive architectural composition together with Croft Castle (National Trust), immediately adjacent, albeit its historical contribution is confessedly relatively modest. Clearly restored externally, one hesitates to trust the cinquefoil-cusped Y-traceried nave windows (two to the north and one to the south) that might otherwise suggest a date c.1300, but the double-flat-chamfered chancel arch within is reassuring and, besides, the church is visually striking due to its seventeenth century belfry and (to a lesser extent) contemporary N. doorway with an oval window above (illustrated left).  The chancel once had a small N. chapel (witnessed by the blocked arch in the N. wall) which may formerly have held the monument  commemorating Sir Richard Croft (d. 1509) and his wife, Dame Eleanor, now backed against the arch inside.  The W. wall supporting the canopy is decorated with two tiers of carved saints (as shown, right) and the effigies on the tomb chest are notable for Sir Richard's "impressive, emaciated face" (Pevsner), rather less so for Dame Eleanor's  courser features beneath her fashionable gable hood.

 

Other items of significance in the building are largely confined to woodwork. Both the chancel and nave roofs are of collar-beam construction, with "V"-struts above the collars and purlins at the ⅓ and stages.  The sanctuary had a "canopy of honour" above the altar, but as it has since lost all its paintwork, it is a poor apology for one now.  More interesting are the box pews (shown in the interior view, looking west, below), of which there are three to the south, facing east, and one long one to the north, facing south and divided into three sections, of which the westernmost is two-tier.  These are probably early Georgian, as may also be the gallery at the west end, now occupied by the organ.  The font is entirely plain.