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Churches of Herefordshire


Leominster
St. Peter & St. Paul's Priory Church


Leominster Church is a remarkable building made enormously wide by its two naves! Benedictine monks from Reading Abbey refounded a deserted Saxon Priory here in 1123. They erected a huge Norman church, the nave of which still stands today running eastwards from the early 14th century tower. In 1239, a second Early English nave was added on its southern edge for use as a parish church. A further southern aisle (also sometimes called a nave) was later added in decorated gothic style.

When the Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII's commissioners in 1539, though the choir and rounded chancel were demolished, the naves and aisles survived in parochial use. The effect today is quite extraordinary, yet appealing. You can step from complete Norman austerity to flourishing gothicism in a matter of seconds. Note the rood stairs, the Lady Chapel's sedilia and one of the few ducking stools remaining in the country. Also the superbly carved Norman capitals over the West Door (including a Green Man). These continue externally.

Here the whole building gives the impression of a complete decorated gothic church with huge soaring windows and ball-flower adornment in abundance, no doubt influenced by Hereford Cathedral. Other monastic remains are few. There is a small associated chapel in Church Lane and the so-called 'Old Priory' which may have been part of the reredorter.

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