Yarpole’s St Leonard Church is sited on a place used for worship for many centuries. The present church dates from the 14th century but in the 19th there was an extension and some restoration.
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The most unusual feature of the church is the detached tower. It may pre-ate the church. The base is square and has a single rectangular light in three of the four walls. The doorway is wide with a simple chamfer. The door itself, as well as its hinges, are medieval. There are three bells in the bell chamber; they date from 1450, 1605 and 1652. Pierced oak quatrefoils decorate the top of each side of the bell chamber. Inside the tower are four corner posts two feet square with cross bracing.
The chancel of the church was rebuilt in 1864 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The 13th century piscina was retained. The east window glass and tracery date from the restoration. The chancel roof was built as it would have been originally with cusped, quatrefoiled wind braces.
The north aisle of the church was an addition during the rebuilding. It is thought the west and east windows were those of the original north wall of the church.
The nave is the least altered part of the church and was built shortly after 1300. The south windows, with two lights, are set in 19th century tracery that copies the original geometrical decorated style. Both have trefoils with a quatrefoil in the head of the window. In the nave is a 17th century panelled oak parish chest with three locks. One lock was the priest’s, the other two for church wardens.
The most noticeable attraction of the nave is its 14/15th century rare crown-post roof. An octagonal crown-post is on each of the five tie-beams. Four curved struts, two going to the rafter and to the collar-purline running the length of the nave, come from the posts. The exterior main roof of the church has stone tiles.
The church font with octagonal bowl is probably 13th century. It was restored in 1983 when stone was added to repair damage. The porch, added in the 14th century after the original build, was also restored in 1864. The original windows were kept.
Yarpole dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086. It was called Iapol (from the Anglo Saxon Gerarpul, a weir on a fish-pool). An old mill north of the church and its fish pool reflect this early name.
The village has three early 17th century timber framed houses: church house, vicarage farm, and Tudor house. Across the stream in the village is a small medieval building thought to have served as a gatehouse for the manor house. It was used as a gaol, a Quaker meeting place, and a bakery.
Yarpole is located on the B4362, north of Leominster and the A44 and west of the A49.
Photos of bell tower and font © by Barbara Ballard.
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Exterior of church and church porch by Andy Dolman; bakehouse by Debbie Windfield