Herefordshire Places of Worship

Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (1) (56k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (2) (24k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (3) (34k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (4) (24k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (5) (19k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (6) (25k) Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas (7) (53k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie
Chapel of Our Lady, Rotherwas
Chapel of Our Lady,
Chapel Road,
Rotherwas, Herefordshire.

Cemeteries

This Church had a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1583, but we understand it was closed in 1914.

The following information about the Church has been provided to accompany the photographs on the right. A list of people who have supplied the information is included in the Acknowledgements, below.

[Image 1] Entering the Chapel through the door at the base of the tower is quite spooky! It's dark inside, and opening the door, one can hear a very loud tick, tick, which together with seeing (imaginary) cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, sounded to me like the fluttering of wings - bats in the belfry - whilst below, was a Pit... In reality the ticking proved to be the Clock Pendulum, and (presumably) the grating across the depression in the entrance had served as a cattle/animal grid originally.

So Edgar Allen Poe had nothing to do with it... The building dates from 1583, built by (Sir) Roger Bodenham, possibly replacing an earlier chapel. The Bodenham family were of Bodenham, Herefordshire originally, but had inherited the estate at Rotherwas in 1483. Sir Roger was born in 1545, and came into the the property in 1583.

The Chapel was built as a private place of worship for the family only, and was never intended for more general use. Roger was said to have been of Anglican faith originally, but his wife was reputed to be a recusant as early as 1587. Roger's conversion to Catholicism followed an apparently miraculous cure in 1606 of ‘a gross humour ...in his legs’, following a visit to St. Winifred's Well, Holywell, Flintshire. This event is symbolised in the Victorian glass window dedicated to St. Winifred in the south Chapel.

He became a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of James I, and when he died in 1623, he was succeeded by his son Thomas.[1]

[Image 2] In common with many in the area, the estate sufferred severely in the Civil War, but the family's fortunes revived later in the century and the Manor House, formerly a timber-framed structure, with a stone Elizabethan wing and a brick gatehouse near the chapel, was rebuilt of brick. It stood to the north-west of the chapel. Late 17th century outbuildings still survive in the farm to the south and there is a Tudor gateway in the garden wall to the north.

The property was inherited in 1865 by Charles Bodenham, then when he died in 1883, the chapel was refurbished at the instruction of Countess Irena Maria as a memorial to her husband. Improvements included the addition of Chancel (seen here), Side (south) Chapel and Vestry, to a design by Peter Paul Pugin, youngest son of the more famous Augustus Welby Pugin.

Charles died without an heir in 1883, Irena in 1892, then during the First World War the estate was acquired by the War Department. The house was subsequently demolished (in 1926), with the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (then Office of Works) continuing to be responsible for the maintenance of the chapel. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

Services were held for soldiers stationed nearby during WWI, and during WWII for those guarding the Rotherwas Munitions Factory.[1]

[Image 3] This is the south side chapel - part of the 19th century refurbishment to the design of Peter Paul Pugin. There is a statue to Our Lady (out of the picture) on the east wall of the Chapel (opposite the fireplace, which we see on the right). The stained glass window depicts Sir Roger Bodenham's apparently miraculous cure in 1606 of ‘a gross humour ...in his legs’, following a visit to St. Winifred's Well, Holywell, Flintshire.[1]

[Image 4] This image shows the most notable feature of this Chapel - its hammer-beam roof. There are four tie-beams, side posts, and collars with pendants, and the second tie-beam from the west end (not legible at ground level) has an inscription recording the birth of Thomas, second son of Roger Bodenham Esq. on 18th October 1589. The chapel was built (or re-built) by (Sir) Roger in 1583. The viewpoint is from the West Gallery, which is a modern (19th century?) addition.[1]

[Image 5] Looking westwards towards the entrance doorway under the Tower (an 18th century addition). The west gallery is described as a “modern” addition. The opening which can be seen high up on the north wall (right of the photo) is apparently a fireplace, and indeed looking upwards from below it, it's possible to see a grating across, on which leaves have collected, although there appears to be no chimney outside. This presumably means that there was either a first floor, or a much larger west gallery in the original chapel, otherwise why would they need the fireplace? Both the 19th century south chapel and vestry have their own fireplaces.[1]

[Image 6] This is presumably a statue niche. To its right is the doorway to the (19th century) vestry, and on the left, the doorway to the Confessional[1]

[Image 7] The Chapel is surrounded by trees on all sides, so it is difficult to find a viewpoint showing the building as a whole.[1]

Denomination

Now or formerly Roman Catholic.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.

Maps

This Church was located at OS grid reference SO5361538331. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Resources

I have found many websites of use whilst compiling the information for this database. Here are some which deserve mention as being of special interest for Rotherwas, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.

The above links were selected and reviewed at the time I prepared the information, but please be aware their content may vary, or disappear entirely. These factors are outside my control.

Acknowledgements

A special thanks to the following people who have contributed information for this web page:

1. Information provided by Rosemary Lockie.

Information last updated on 5 Oct 2010 at 00:00.

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This Report was created 22 Sep 2021 - 15:30:29 BST from information held in the Herefordshire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 7 Feb 2019 at 13:34.

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