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Aston Eyre Chapel, Aston Eyre, Shropshire

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Aston Eyre is a hamlet in the southern part of Shropshire, consisting of a few houses, the church and Hall Farm scattered along a stretch of the B4368, a minor road linking Bridgnorth with the Corve Dale and Wenlock Edge. The nearest towns are Bridgnorth, 4 miles to the E, and Much Wenlock, a similar distance to the NW. The church stands on the N side of the road and is built of local red and grey sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings. It consists of a chancel with a taller and wider nave, having a S porch and a W bellcote. Under the porch is a rebuilt doorway of 2 periods in the 12thc, containing a clebrated Romanesque tympanum.  The nave is 12thc, with lateral plain lancets and a 12thc chancel arch, and the chancel was rebuilt in the 13thc.

To the N of the church stand the remains of the Hall, a 14thc manor house now converted for use as a farm (Hall Farm House).

History

Aston Eyre was held by Ealhhere from Reginald the Sheriff in 1086, and by Saxi, a free man, in 1066. It was assessed at 2 hides. Sometime around 1086, Ealhere conferred the manor on the Abbey of Shrewsbury, and in 1132-33 his son, Robert FitzAer founded the church as a chapel of ease of St Gregory's, Morville, which it remains. It has no dedication.

Robert was succeeded by his son of the same name, first mentioned in the account of a dispute with Abbot Adam of Shrewsbury over burial rights in 1167. He had died by 1198 to be succeeded by his son of the same name, and that family continued to hold rights in the manor until well into the 14thc. Meanwhile at some time between 1222 and 1234, William FitzAer, then Lord of Aston, quitted all claim to the chapel to the Abbey of Shrewsbury.

The church was founded in 1132 as a chapel-of-ease to St Gregory's, Morville. It has no dedication.

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

S nave doorway

The doorway, under a porch, is round headed and of 2 orders with a figural tympanum.

Dimensions
Opening
Height of opening 2.05 m
Width of opening 1.24 m
Tympanum
Height of tympanum (radius) 0.86 m
Thickness of tympanum 0.24 m
Width of Tympanum (diameter) 1.73 m
1st order

Plain, square jambs carrying quirked chamfered imposts which support the monolithic tympanum.

This is carved in relief with a scene of the Entry into Jerusalem, as described in Matt. 21, 1-11, Mark 11, 1-11 and Luke 19, 28-44. Christ is centrally placed, riding his ass - a large beast shown in profile, walking to the R. He sits astride the ass with his upper body shown frontally and long legs with feet on the ground. He wears a plain under garment, ankle-length with a round neck, and over it a cope with a raised border. His arms are raised; the dexter in blessing and the sinister holding a palm frond. His face is eroded, but shown frontal and bearded, and he has a cross halo with traces of red paint at the top.

The ass on which he rides is very large, occupying more than half of the width of the tympanum and ⅔ of its height. To the L of the tympanum, behind the ass is a male figure shown in the act of spreading his cloak under the ass's hooves, and in front of this figure is a smaller ass, presumably the colt, or foal of the ass mentioned in the Gospel accounts. At the extreme R of the field is a seated man with a long beard, shown strewing branches on the ground, again according to the Gospel accounts.

2nd order

En-delit nook-shafts in sections stand on rool/ hollow bases and carry replacement volute capitals with replacement hollow chamfered imposts. The arch is plain and round-headed with a slight chamfer and the label is plain chamfered.

Interior Features

Arches

Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The chancel arch is pointed with single order jambs carrying a 2 -order arch.

1st order (shared)

Plain square-section jambs carrying quirked hollow-chamfered imposts. The arch is plain but for a thing angle roll on the W angle.

2nd order E face

The arch is plain and unmoulded.

2nd order W face

The arch is carried on the broad imposts of the single order responds. It has a W angle roll overlapped by hyphenated sawtooth, carved point-to-point on face and soffit.

Comments/Opinions

The Romanesque features described here all postdate the 1132 foundation. The tympanum showing the Entry into Jerusalem was dated to the late-12thc by Zarnecki. His attribution to the mid-12thc Herefordhshire School, given in Pevsner (1958), was based on a misunderstanding and is corrected in Newman (2006). The chancel arch could well be contemporary. The church was rebuilt not long before 1855, and the restored features noted in the description of the S doorway may date from that restoration. The subject of the Entry into Jerusalem also appears on a capital in Southwell Minster (Notts) and on the font at West Haddon (Northants).

Bibliography

  • D. C. Cox (ed.), Sir Stephen Glynne's Church Notes for Shropshire, 1997, 8.

  • R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire, 12 vols, London 1854-60, 1, 199-210.

  • Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID 254311.

  • C. E. Keyser, A list of Norman tympana and lintels : with figure or symbolical sculpture still or till recently existing in the churches of Great Britain, London 1904, li-lii, 2, fig. 90.

  • J. Newman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire New Haven and London 2006, 122.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire, Harmondsworth 1958, 64.

Exterior from SE
Interior to E

Location

Site Location
Aston Eyre Chapel, Aston Eyre
National Grid Reference
SO 653 941 
Boundaries
now: Shropshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Shropshire
Diocese
medieval: Hereford
now: Hereford
Dedication
medieval:
now:
Type of building/monument
Parish church, formerly chapel of ease  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
16 May 2019