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Churches in Clifford and Hardwicke

Service times

History of St Mary's church, Clifford
Wooden effigy

History of Holy Trinity church, Hardwicke
Thomas Webb
The Link - parish magazine

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St Mary's church in Clifford and Holy Trinity church in Hardwicke are members of the Borderlink group of churches. Other parishes included in this group are Blakemere, Bredwardine with Brobury, Cusop, Dorstone, Moccas and Preston-on-Wye.  Revd. Roger James is the Rector for all of the parishes.  He can be contacted on 01497 820 634. 

Service times
St Mary's, Clifford
1st Sunday of the month - Holy Communion BCP - 8-00 a.m.
2nd Sunday of the month - Mattins BCP - 9-30 a.m.
3rd Sunday of the month - Holy Communion CW - 11-00 a.m.
4th Sunday of the month - Mattins BCP - 9-30 a.m.

Holy Trinity, Hardwicke
1st Sunday of the month - Holy Communion CW - 11-00 a.m.
2nd Sunday of the month Mattins - BCP - 11-00 a.m.
3rd Sunday of the month - Holy Communion BCP - 9-30 a.m.
4th Sunday of the month - Evensong BCP - 6-00 a.m.

BCP - Book of Common Prayer 
CW - Common Worship

History of St Mary's Church

This is an ancient church, probably built by the monks of Clifford Priory  for the village in the 13th century.  It was significantly changed by two 19th century alterations.

The north porch is Victorian.  During the first restoration of 1839 the church was enlarged.  The north wall was taken down and a baptistery and vestry built on either side of a central porch.  Ina second restoration of 1888 these were pulled down and the present north aisle, porch, vestry and organ chamber erected.

The nave stonework dates mainly from the 13th century, though the window above the blocked-up south porch doorway is part of the 1839 restoration.  The pews, lectern, pulpit and rood screen are of the 1888 restoration, whose guiding light was the Squire, Benjamin Haigh Allen (1821-1902).  The fontbowl is possibly 14th century work. 

The west tower is entered through a door in the oak screen given in memory of Thomas William Walwyn Trumper (Vicar, 1874-1924).  The Walwyns and their successors, the Trumpers, have held the advowson of the Clifford since 1536. 

On the roof of the belfry are the shields of four local families, the Penoyres, Cliffords, de Whitneys and Walwyns.  The Penoyres lived at The Moor, now demolished, between Clifford and Hay on Wye. 

The belfry (not normally open to visitors) houses a peal of eight bell.  Four are the originals cast by William Evans of Chepstow in 1736.  The fifth bell of this peal was recast in 1897 and the same year three more bells were given to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

The chancel windows in the north and east walls are from the 1839 restoration, the reredos and choir stalls from the 188 one.  On the south wall are four memorials to the Penoyre family, two of elegant classical design.


Wooden effigy
The effigy in the recess on the north side of the chancel of St Mary's church is one of the earliest in the country, and may date from the late 1200s.  It is of a priest in Eucharistic vestments, and may be of a vicar in the parish, or (more likely) one of the Cluniac monks from Clifford Priory.

There are only about a hundred of these medieval wooden monuments in the country, and only one other in Herefordshire, at Much Marcle.

There is a legend that it represents the founder of the Priory and was brought to the church for preservation at the Dissolution: another states that it was carried in procession round the chuch on the founder's day, and a third that it was always carried into the church before funeral processions.  These legends have alos been told of the Much Marcle effigy.  

It was mounted in its present position in 1992 after restoration.  The whole monument measures 6ft. 4ins. in length; it is 19ins. wide at the shoulders and 18 ins. at the feet.  It must have been carved from a fine oak tree and well-seasoned.  The effigy is still in a good state of preservation, only one side of the cushion and part of the slab being missing.  At some time it was exposed to damp, probably from lying on a wet floor.  

When the effigy was constructed, the Priory was often raided by the Welsh in times of famine.  The priest may well have lost his life  defending it.  


History of Holy Trinity Church
Hardwicke is an agricultural parish of 4,000 acres, surrounded by Merbach, Little Mountain and Cusop Hill.  The 230-strong population is served by the church of the Holy Trinity.

The parish was formed in 1853, having formerly been part of Clifford, with the impetus coming from the recent construction of the church.
The foundation stone had been laid on June 12th 1849 by Rev. John Webb of Tretire, Monmouth, and the church was consecrated on 3rd September 1853 by the bishop of Hereford.

holy trinity sketch

The oak roof in the nave, and the pews, are reputed to have been built with oak from The Moor Estate, home of the Penoyre family.  The colourful stained glass windows depict: the cardinal virtues of faith, hope and charity; the twelve apostles; the angel announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds; a ship (possibly an offering of thanks for the safe return of the Penoyre family members from...); the baptism of the Lord; his crucifiction and the last supper.

The Rev. W. T. Napleton Stallard Penoyre became the first vicar of Hardwicke.  On his death in 1856, the renowned Thomas William Webb took the ministry of the parish.

The gravestone inscriptions and church records contain a great deal of local history, and families researching their history can e-mail Julie Jones for further information.  


Thomas William Webb (1807 - 1885)

webbThe Reverend Thomas William Webb, born in 1806, was only son of Revd John Webb.  Educated by his father before going to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, he was ordained in Hereford Cathedral in 1830. Thomas married Henrietta Montague Wyatt of Mitcheltroy, Monmouth in 1843. They had no children.

Thomas served in a number of parishes in the south of Herefordshire, sometimes as curate to his father, as well as at Gloucester Cathedral.
In 1856 he became vicar of Hardwicke. He remained there until his death in 1885.

Thomas Webb is most remembered for his interest in astronomy and the meticulous observations that he made from a small observatory in the garden of Hardwicke Vicarage. He took a great interest in encouraging the younger generation to take up astronomy and published many articles in popular scientific magazines as well as writing books.  Most notable of these was Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, which became a standard resource for astronomers across the world until well into the 20th century.

(Thanks to Mark and Janet Robinson for their contribution to this entry)

Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography
Mark and Janet Robinson, The Stargazer of Hardwicke: a biography of his life and works (Gracewing Publishing, 2006)
T.W. Webb, Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, 1917, Longmans, Green and Co., London


The Link magazine
For over twenty years The Link has provided parishioners with news and events from across Borderlink group.  It is produced monthly and available from any church within the eight parishes.  

Deadline for copy should go to the editor Julie Jones by the 15th of each month, the magazine is on sale by the 30th of each month (current price is 35p).  Companies or individuals wishing to advertise in The Link should e-mail Linda Rees.


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