Magdalene House, Willersley, Herefordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Willersley is a village in the W of Herefordshire, 13 miles W of Hereford and 4 miles from the Welsh border. The village is on the N side of the Wye valley, and consists of a few houses built along the main A438 road that links Hereford and Brecon. Magdalene House, formerly the church of St Mary Magdalene, consisted originally of a nave and chancel in one constructed of sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings, with a timber S porch, and a W bell turret. The church was built in the later 12thc, modified in the 14thc, restored in 1877 and converted into a dwelling in 1981, when the W turret was removed. A description of the house as a church in 1934 is to be found in RCHME. The S doorway is the only Romanesque feature.


Willersley and Winforton were held by Earl Harold in 1066 and by Ralph de Tosny in 1086. They were together assessed at 4 hides, but was waste in 1066.  Another holding in the same place belonged to Alweard in 1066 and to a Welshman from Ralph de Tosny in 1086. This was valued at 1 hide.


Exterior Features


S doorway

Single order with lintel. The doorway is protected by a low porch that effectively conceals its head. The jambs have quirked angle rolls without bases. The lintel is a rectangular block, chamfered on its upper edge and with the lower edge decorated with a row of chipcarved rosettes, partly obscured by a crossbeam of the porch. The face is carved with a series of chip-carved motives. Reading from L to R: a block of chip-carved sexfoils; then a set of four concentric squares; next a vertical herringbone design, 2½ rows wide; then a large octofoil rosette, and finally a block of chip-carved saltires. The lower edge of the face is obscured by a cross-beam of the porch. Above the lintel is an area of coursed sandstone rubble.

Height of opening 2.05m
Width of opening 1.10m


RCHME dates the doorway to the mid-12thc. The decoration of the lintel is compared with Letton by Brooks and Pevsner (2012). Pevsner (1963) wonders what can have moved the carver to decorate the underside of the lintel - an odd question, oddly repeated in the 2012 edition.


  • A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 677.

  • Historic England Listed BuildingĀ 150672.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 322.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 3: North-west, 1934, 211 (as St Mary Magdalene).

Exterior from S


Site Location
Magdalene House, Willersley
National Grid Reference
SO 312 474 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Herefordshire
now: Herefordshire
now: Hereford
medieval: Hereford
medieval: St Mary Magdalene
Type of building/monument
Private house, formerly parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
05 September 2012