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Statue About 80 Metres West-South-West of the West Front of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels

A Grade II Listed Building in Clehonger, County of Herefordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0389 / 52°2'20"N

Longitude: -2.7577 / 2°45'27"W

OS Eastings: 348122

OS Northings: 238109

OS Grid: SO481381

Mapcode National: GBR FJ.FNL8

Mapcode Global: VH85V.40YS

Entry Name: Statue About 80 Metres West-South-West of the West Front of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels

Listing Date: 22 October 1986

Last Amended: 18 December 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1099700

English Heritage Legacy ID: 155340

Location: Clehonger, County of Herefordshire, HR2

County: County of Herefordshire

Civil Parish: Clehonger

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Clehonger

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

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Summary

A late-C19 carved stone statue set on a plinth of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings.

Description

Artist - unknown.

A late-C19 carved stone statue set on a plinth of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings. The plinth is square on plan with a moulded base and cap of ashlar. The figure of St Michael is dressed in armour with a cloak and a helmet with a star-shaped finial. His left foot is placed on the body of the dying dragon. His left arm bears a shield and his right hand holds aloft a bronze sword with a sinuous blade.


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 20/12/2012


(Formerly listed as Statue about 95 yards west-south-west of the west front of The Abbey Church of St Michael and all Angels)

History

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 statue of St Michael killing the dragon dates from 1879.

Reasons for Listing

The Statue of St Michael, about 80 metres west-south-west of the west front of the Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Aesthetic quality: despite the fact that the sculpture has suffered some effects of weathering, the composition is well considered and it is a good, representative, religious work of its period;
* Rarity: this type of free-standing sculpture is relatively rare in England;
* Historic associations: the sculpture of St Michael forms part of a group of related buildings which date from the latter half of the C19 and 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, the sculpture of St Michael and Belmont House with its chapel, is one of the most complete surviving groups which resulted from the benefaction of a wealthy landowner in the mid-C19.

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