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There are 245 parishes in Herefordshire, and nearly every parish has a church. The Historic Environment Record lists 235 medieval churches. Over 200 churches in Herefordshire were established by the year 1200, however many of the churches you see today do not exist in their original form. In fact, there is not a church that has not been altered in some way. Some medieval churches are now only ruins. St. John's Church in Llanwarne (HER no. 847), for example, once the impressive parish church of an ancient parish, is now falling down, having been replaced by a church which is situated on higher ground and not so susceptible to rising damp and flooding (P.R. Davis and S. Lloyd-Fern,) Lost Churches of Wales and the Marches, Alan Sutton, 1990, pp. 5-9).

Shobdon Arches

(Herefordshire Historic Environment Record reference no. 592)

This folly was erected in 1753 when the 12th century church of St. John the Evangelist was demolished. The Shobdon Arches incorporate the Norman chancel arch and two Norman doorways of this church. The tympana were added separately.
A tympanum in the Shobdon Arches depicts Christ Pantocrator. Unfortunately the relief sculpture (thought to be of the medieval Kilpeck School) is being ruined by erosion caused by exposure to weather. 

The most important ecclesiastical site in the county is Hereford Cathedral (HER 386). 

Several monastic orders were represented in Herefordshire during the Middle Ages. However, the county's proximity to the Welsh border and the resulting frequent eruptions of violence did not make a monastic existence easy.  

To research sites relating to religion in Herefordshire, you could access the HER database, enter one of the following words under Site Type and specify Medieval from AD 1066 to AD 1539 as the period.

  • Abbey
  • Cathedral
  • Cell
  • Cemetery
  • Chapel
  • Chapter House
  • Church
  • Churchyard
  • Cloister
  • Cross
  • Hermitage
  • Hospital
  • Monastery
  • Priory
  • Religious House  

[Original author: Toria Forsyth-Moser, 2002]