The soaring spire of the church of St Mary the Virgin, Ross on Wye
So many present day reasons to visit one of the quieter, gentler shires of England - but I fell in love with Herefordshire many years ago, when I attended a term of evening classes on brass rubbing run by Arthur Peplow, a passionate enthusiast of Herefordshire Churches, their architecture and the art contained within them. That man ingrained the same passion in me, which has been burning ever since. Each parish church in this country has at least one notable work of art - whether it is created in wood or stone carving, painted glass, wall paintings or memorial monuments.
The accurate depiction of Tudor costume on the effigies of William (died 1530) and Anne Rudhall in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ross on Wye
They are the People's Galleries - repositories of so many expressions of what gave communities their identities - their beliefs, their customs, their day to day lives, their rites of passage - and in Herefordshire, there are numerous examples of some of the most evocative and accomplished of these works of art still in existence. I am endlessly grateful that they are accessible at all and not locked away in national museums - though in some cases, accessibility is an issue, with security requirements needing to be finely balanced with the right of entry to a place of worship.
Here are just a few examples of some of the treasures I was able to enjoy back in October. (Friends - I've just found this post languishing on my desk-top, when I thought I had posted it weeks ago! My apologies - I hope you are not too confused !!)
More fine detail on the recumbent figures of John (decd. 1636) and Mary Rudhall - their hands clasped together in matrimonial affection for all eternity.
A deceased daughter of John and Mary Rudhall
Another deceased babe - this time shown as a chrysom - wrapped in baptismal robes as its shroud, having died within a month of birth
The fine costume detail of one of the female 'weepers' - a still-living daughter mourning the parents memorialised above (much historical dress research has depended on monuments such as this)
The Annunciation - a beautifully carved scene on the marble Tudor tomb of William and Anne Rudhall (shown above)
A fine example of a parish hearse or coffin cart
Fragments of glass gathered and re-leaded, sadly in jumbled order, but gladly that they were gathered together at all
In the crypt - a strikingly colourful painting by Edward Kelly
More works by Edward Kelly - here the consecration of St Dubricius as Bishop and below, more scenes from his life
The East window of fine 13th century glass in the church of Eaton Bishop
An utterly charming depiction of Mary and the Christ Child
St Michael weighing a tiny little Soul
The external Volka Chantry Chapel at Kingsland
Tobias and the Angel at Kingsland