Pembridge Church of St Mary Belfry

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NamePembridge Church of St Mary Belfry
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHerefordshire
Modern AuthorityHerefordshire
1974 AuthorityHereford and Worcester
Civil ParishPembridge

It has been suggested by several writers that the detached belfry at Pembridge Church is built on a lowered motte and that the corner posts of the bell tower are the remains of a timber motte tower. However, there is no firm evidence to substantiate this theory. (Shoesmith)

The Belfry (Plate 154) stands detached to the N. of the chancel and is a timber-framed structure of 14th-century date. It is of octagonal plan and of three diminishing stages with hipped and pyramidal roofs covered with stone slates and shingles. The lowest stage has stone outer walls of varying thickness, and in the S.W. wall is the doorway with moulded jambs and a wooden lintel. In the E. wall are two rough openings, in the N. and N.W. sides a loop-light, and in the S.W. wall a square-headed window originally of two lights. The second stage is supported on four main oak posts with cross-framing which does not appear to be original, as the posts have cuttings for raking struts now removed; this stage is square, as is the small top stage, which has diagonal framing in the sides. (RCHME)

Gatehouse Comments

Dendrochronological dating and structural analysis indicate that the bell tower was built as a single structure between 1207-1216. It seems likely that the entire surviving structure was completely rebuilt shortly after 1668/9. The tower is made almost entirely of oak. The belfry is well described in Higham and Barker, 2005, Timber Castles as an example of the form timber towers on mottes may have taken, but not as a suggestion this was actual such a tower.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO391580
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  • Shoesmith, Ron, 2009 (Rev edn.), Castles and Moated Sites of Herefordshire (Logaston Press) p. 233
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 254-5
  • Longton, N., 1966, The story of Pembridge and its church
  • Pevsner, N., 1963, Buildings of England: Herefordshire (Harmondsworth) p. 267
  • RCHME, 1934, An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire Vol. 3: north-west p. 161 no. 1 online transcription


  • (Stirling-Brown, R.), 1995, Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 63 p. 14
  • 1994, Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 62 p. 20-21 (plan)
  • Marshall, G., 1943, 'The detached church towers of Herefordshire' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 31 p. 132-140
  • Whitehead, F., 1901, 'Pembridge church and belfry' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 137-140


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Tyers, I. 01/1999, Tree-ring analysis of the bell tower of the church of St Mary, Pembridge, Herefordshire.. English Heritage Ancient Monuments Laboratory. 1/99
  • Morriss, R.K., 05/1998, St Mary's Bell Tower, Pembridge, Herefordshire. An Archaeological Survey (Archaeological Investigations Ltd. 364. Rep No. 36)