St Mary the Virgin, Much Cowarne

St Mary the Virgin, Much Cowarne


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  • Road reference: Church Lane
  • OS Grid Ref: SO 622 472
  • Hours of access: Daylight hours
  • Parking available
  • Toilets on site
  • Restaurants and public houses in Bishops Frome, Little Cowarne and Stoke Lacy
  • Website

After Domesday (1086) Much Cowarne is recorded as one of Herefordshire’s medieval “towns” with Market Charters granted in 1255 and 1281. This status is reflected in the re-building of the church during the 13th – 15th centuries. The effigy of a Crusader knight and well-known legend date from this period.

Much Cowarne’s influence waned as nearby towns grew in importance and the church was later reduced in size.

Bells are first recorded in 1553 whilst the parish struggled with maintenance. Two fine raised tombs within the church date from the 17th century but much was destroyed in the fire following a devastating lightning storm in January 1840 which gutted much of the building. Restoration took place over forty years helped financially following the purchase of the Cowarne Court Estate by the Bourne family in 1876. The final three bells were restored in 1878 but the condition of the tower caused continuing concern only finally rectified by a grant from English Heritage in 2000. A major restoration of the bells took place in 2008/2009 with assistance of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The much praised colour illustrated guide and history panels were also produced at this time to encourage community use.