St Bartholomew's, Vowchurch

Vowchurch page     Wye Dore home page   Family history

This brief introduction is to highlight some points of interest for visitors to St Bartholomew's. Further details can be accessed by clicking the links in the following text. A guide booklet is on sale in the church, price £1.50. Use the "Contact Us" button to order it by post.


Click the button for a historic view of the church  Vowchurch c.1900

Vowchurch does not appear in Domesday, although several local manors, now farms, are mentioned. "Fowchirche" appears in a document of 1291, the modern spelling being adopted in the mid-19th century. The oldest parts of the building are the south and north walls either side of the doorways - note the round-headed slit window in the south wall, and the Norman font bowl. The west wall was rebuilt in the 17th century and the west window is Victorian. The main part of the church was consecrated in 1348, dedicated to 12 different saints, perhaps to encourage offerings. The other windows are original except the NW chancel which was added in the 19th century. Note the unusual 3-light windows, of a style peculiar to Herefordshire. An early two bowl piscina is in the sanctuary. The recess in the south wall of the nave is an aumbry for a subsidiary altar, and the window sill above is a re-used altar stone (note the inscribed crosses). The sills of the NW and SW chancel are a re-used monumental stone, cut in half. Inscription is still evident although now illegible.

The bell turret was built with a bequest dated 1522, although the timber supporting structure was added later in the 17th century. The external spire dates from 1871. For information on the bells, click here.

The chancel screen dates from 1613 (see wooden tablet nearby on S wall). The roof timbers of the chancel are mostly medieval. The nave roof was renewed in the 17th century, at which time the unusual internal timber posts were put in to provide added support. The altar rail is late 17th century. The pulpit is 19th century with an 18th century base. The coloured shields around the church, representing the arms of local families, were restored or replaced in the 19th century from the 17th century originals. The wooden porch includes 17th century material, but was rebuilt to the original style in 1860.

The church was heavily restored in the 19th century, when many monuments were destroyed. It was refurbished in 1950, and extensively in 2004, thanks to an English Heritage grant. The windows on the N and S walls of the chancel were re-leaded in 2015, part funded by the Church Commissioners.

Restoration 1840-71      Restoration 2004

Note the (damaged) monument in Latin to "Bourne" dated 1625, displayed in a recess in the N wall, a marble slab on the chancel wall for William Elfe dated 1749, various monuments to the Wood family of Whitehouse (on the SW side of the parish) and Sir Edward Boughton of Poston Court (in the NW of the parish). Other local families commemorated include McMichael (the local doctors) and Seabourne. The brass war memorial is on the north wall of the nave, click for the Roll of Honour.

The Lewis Carroll connection

Rev Skeffington Hume Dodgson was a younger brother of "Lewis Carroll", and was vicar here from 1895-1910. His grave is in the churchyard, and a display cabinet with documents and photographs of his time here is mounted in the NW corner of the church. For further information click the button above.


An old stone base in the churchyard, near the porch, has been variously described as the base of a medieval cross, or possibly a base for a sundial. It is grade II listed.

For family historians, a transcript of all monuments in the church and churchyard is available, as well as information from the parish registers - see the family history page.

We hope you enjoy your visit to St Bartholomew's. You are very welcome to join us for any of our services (see details on this web site, or the list on the notice board in the porch). Thank you for any donation you are able to leave to help maintain this ancient church.

Vowchurch page     Wye Dore home page