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The Lych Gate, Curved Walls and Piers to the North of the Graveyard of St Michael and All Angels Abb, Herefordshire

Description: The Lych Gate, Curved Walls and Piers to the North of the Graveyard of St Michael and All Angels Abb

Grade: II
Date Listed: 18 December 2012
Building ID: 1411804

OS Grid Reference: SO4818538202
OS Grid Coordinates: 348185, 238202
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0398, -2.7568

Locality: Herefordshire
County: Herefordshire
Postcode: HR2 9RZ

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Listing Text


A lych gate, of timber, with tiled roof. At either side are curved walls constructed of rubble sandstone with limestone dressings.

Reason for Listing

The lych gate, gate piers and walling to the graveyard of the abbey church of St Michael and All Saints are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the design of the gates, gate piers and crescent walling is accomplished and well matched to the other Gothic revival buildings designed by the Pugin brothers on this site, which are also designated;

* Historic associations: the lych gate, piers and walling form part of a group of related buildings which were commissioned or inspired by Francis Wegg-Prosser, an important and generous benefactor of the Roman Catholic cause in the mid-C19;

* Group value: the group of Roman Catholic buildings at Belmont, which includes the abbey church of St Michael and All Angels, the Monastery, the Almshouses, the School and teacher’s house and Belmont House with its chapel and the lych gate is one of the most complete surviving groups which resulted from the benefaction of a wealthy landowner in the mid-C19.


In 1852 Francis Wegg-Prosser converted to Roman Catholicism. He was a landowner, who had inherited the Belmont estate to the south-west of Hereford, and had acted as MP for Herefordshire from 1847 until his conversion. He had already commissioned work from Anglican architects, including the restoration of the church at Clehonger by William Butterfield. Following his conversion he decided to build a school with attached chapel and schoolmaster’s house to the south-east of his own house. The architect chosen was Edward Welby Pugin, and Wegg-Prosser would have known of the Pugin family through the designs of AWN Pugin at Eastnor Castle, undertaken by the decorator, Crace.

Within two years of this first commission Wegg-Prosser had started to build the abbey church at Belmont and again employed EW Pugin as his architect. The foundation stone for the abbey church was laid in 15 February 1854, and work continued, with numerous changes of plan, firstly under Edward Pugin and then, following his death in 1875, under his brother Peter Paul until 1889.
The monastery buildings were started in 1857 and, again, a succession of additions and alterations, including the attached school buildings, meant that work continued under Edward and then Peter Paul Pugin and latterly RA Ford of Bettington and Sons into the 1930s.

Soon after the establishment of the abbey, the intention became that it should be the Central Novitiate for the English Congregation of the Benedictine Order, a function which it fulfilled from 1859 to 1917. The importance of this dual function is reflected in some measure by the lavish architectural treatment of the church and monastery buildings, and a bird’s eye view of the church and monastery, dated 1878, by the Pugin practice, shows the intention to create a group of buildings which would fully reflect the importance of the Benedictine order by a considerably more elaborate treatment, including a longer nave with western towers, three spires and more extensive monastery buildings, including a cloister and a guest wing. Between 1859 and 1916 the abbey church was also the cathedral for the diocese of Newport and Menevia. However, following the death of Bishop Hedley in 1915, the cathedral was moved to Cardiff and in 1920 the abbey became an independent Benedictine community.

The patron for the abbey church was Francis Wegg-Prosser of Belmont House, and in making his gift of the church to the Benedictine Order and of further land from his estate for the building of the monastery and for the graveyard, he made it plain that the church should also serve as a parish church and that the cemetery should be for parishioners as well as monks. This lych gate, which emphatically faces the public road and provides a generous, curved recess to shelter coffins and mourners entering from outside the monastery for the first part of the service, would appear to be one consequence of Wegg-Prosser’s insistence on his church having a parochial function.

The gateway first appears on the Ordnance Survey map for Herefordshire published in 1888, and stylistically the piers appear to date from the later-C19.


A lych gate, of timber, with tiled roof. At either side are curved walls constructed of rubble sandstone with limestone dressings. The piers and gate appear to be the work of EW Pugin or PP Pugin. Square piers with domed caps are arranged as pairs and terminate the walling to either side of the gate, where they are set diagonally, and at the end of the curved walling, where they mark the juncture with the enclosure walls of the graveyard (which are not part of this assessment). The wooden structure of the gateway has angled braces with chamfered edges and the tiled roof has alternating rows of plain and fish-scale tiles. The pair of gates has chamfered uprights and a middle rail with a cross to their upper bodies. They are similar in their details to the Gates and Gate Piers about 30 yards east of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.