By DAVID ROSS, EDITOR,
The words ‘an absolute delight’ spring to mind when I consider Holy Trinity church in Bosbury. There is honestly so much of historic interest here that it is hard to know where to begin. Bosbury was an important place in the medieval period; the powerful Bishops of Hereford maintained a ‘palace’ in the parish (really a grand manor house) and two Bishops died at Bosbury; Athelstan in 1056 and Richard de Swinfield in 1316. In the late 13th century the palace was rebuilt, on the site now occupied by Old Court Farm. The 13th century gateway to the palace still stands, incorporated in later hop kilns.
To further emphasise just how important Bosbury was, the Knights Templar had a preceptory here, at what is now Temple Court. Many of the cottages that line the lanes near the church are attractive timber-framed buildings from the late medieval or Jacobean period. That same sense of prosperity extends to Holy Trinity church, which is large and imposing. The first written record of a church at Bosbury comes from 1200, during the reign of King John, when a royal charter names a priest to be appointed, with all the powers ‘of his predecessors’, suggesting that there was a church here long before King John. Much of the current building probably dates to the time of Bishop William de Vere (1186-1200).
The Bell TowerThe most obvious feature of the church is the large detached bell tower in the churchyard. Looking more like a castle tower that has wandered away from its fortress than a bell tower, this sturdy structure dates from 1230-1240, slightly later than the body of the church, and is in Early English style. The defensive appearance is underlined by the fact that all the windows are narrow lancets, suggesting that it was intended as a refuge for parishioners in times of trouble; Herefordshire’s proximity to the Welsh border meant that there was always the threat of armed raiders in the area. Detached towers are not as unusual in Herefordshire as they are in the rest of England; there are 7 detached towers elsewhere in the county, though none as solidly built as Bosbury’s.
The Morton ChapelThe south aisle terminates in the Morton Chapel, built in 1528 by Thomas Morton, Archdeacon of Hereford and nephew of Cardinal Morton. Thomas and his brother Rowland leased the Bishop’s manor house at Bosbury after the Bishops ceased to occupy the manor themselves in 1503. The brothers built the chapel in memory of Sir Rowland’s wife so that masses could be said for her soul in perpetuity.
The Harford MemorialsThe Morton Chapel is simply superb, but it pales almost into insignificance as you pass from the chapel into the chancel, which is completely dominated - one might say overwhelmed - by two huge and ornate memorials to members of the Harford family. John Harford (d. 1559) and his son Richard (d. 1578) both served as stewards of the Bishop’s manor at Bosbury, and the importance of the post is reflected in their magnificent tombs, facing each other across the altar. John Harford’s memorial is easily the more impressive of the two, and takes up almost the entire south wall of the sanctuary. The sculpture is attributed to John Guldo (aka Gildon or Guldon) and shows Italian influences. The attribution is based on an inscription on the column heads that reads ‘JOHN GULDO of Hereford made this tombe w. his owne hande Ano. Dn. 1573.’
Note: David Ross and his wife started the website Britain Express while living in Canada in 1998.
Since settling in the Cotswolds of England a few years later the family has expanded the website to cover a comprehensive
range of historical information. His response to visiting Bosbury Church is so enthusiastic that I just had to extract
the article for the Bosbury History Resource. However I have deliberately not reproduced his excellent photographs so to
see them I strongly recommend looking up Britain Express, a great history site.
Article accessed: March 2020.