St John the Baptist's Church, Preston by Ledbury

Recent Photograph of St John the Baptist's Church (Preston by Ledbury)

Preston Church is in a secluded spot, at the end of a turning from the A417 road marked "Serendipity". The Church may be tiny, but it has a long history. According to the guide leaflet, it was built about 1275, probably on the site of a former wattle and daub Saxon Church.

The porch and parts of the chancel and north wall date from the original structure - the newest part being the vestry added in 1895. The entrance doorway is Norman, above which is a tympanum with an “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God) carving, one of only 2 others in Gloucestershire. Some experts believe the carving dates back to the Saxon period, so it is possible it was saved from the old church.

Although ironically I missed seeing it on my visit, since it is hidden by the porch, I saw one of the others later the same day, in St Mary the Virgin's Church at Upleadon.

In 1585, the Manor of Preston was held by Queen Elizabeth, and Preston Court, the timber framed manor house which can be seen above the roof on the right of the photo, dates back to this time. It was leased to Fulke Greville, who was Treasurer of the Navy and secretary to the Council of the Marches of Wales. It is probable however, that a manor house existed on the site long before that, since the church and manor belonged originally to St Peter's Abbey at Gloucester from the reign of Edward I, until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, when it was granted to the Bishop of Gloucester.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie on 11th October 2007.
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