Not far from us is a little village called Shobdon and it is known locally for its ‘International Airport’. By ‘International Airport’ I don’t mean anything like London Heathrow. Oh no. It is a small local airport from which one can charter a light aircraft to fly one to Europe. There is not a lot of traffic and very little noise.
People, including us, generally dismiss it with ‘Oh the international airport’ and nothing more. However, just recently, we discovered ‘Shobdon Arches’ and had a surprise – well two surprises actually.
Shobdon church was rebuilt around 1750, replacing the original 14th century church, and it looks a nice little church although fairly ordinary; that is until one goes inside.
The interior is a surprise and anything but ordinary.
It has been described as “a complete masterpiece of English Rococo” and “the finest 18th century church in Herefordshire”. The style is known as ‘Gothic Revival’ and is clearly influenced by Wallace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, London. The amazingly intact interior and matching furniture are the sole example of this Walpolean Gothick style of Georgian church architecture and furnishing.
Having been thoroughly amazed and enchanted by this church’s interior we left to look for the ‘Shobdon Arches’ and started along this rather nice avenue of trees.
Nearing the top of the hill we could see the arches at the top.
Arriving at the top of the hill we find our second surprise; these amazing arches. When the original 14th century church was demolished the chancel arches we removed to this location as a ‘folly’.
In the last picture it can be seen that these carvings have weathered disasterously which isn’t surprising as they were originally from the interior.
These carvings are the work of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque sculpture which was a group of master masons working in Herefordshire and Worcestershire during the 12th century. They were heavily influenced by carving seen in churches and monasteries in south western France. Their distinctive ‘Romanesque’ sandstone and limestone carvings are to be found in several parish churches in the area, notably Kilpeck, but also Eardisley, Leominster and Castle Frome.
Well worth the short trip.