In the twelfth century there was a tiny church where the south aisle of the current church of St. Mary Magdalene is today. The church has wonderful links with the Baskervilles, who were Lords of the Manor of Eardisley for 500 years, and also a link perhaps with Charles Dickens which can be seen in one of the memorials
The font in this church is argueably the most impressive in England let alone Herefordshire. It is 12th century and is intricately carved showing the skill of stonemasons at this time – the carvings tell the story of a sinner being saved from the power of evil. Evil is shown as a lion, and the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove. There are two men shown fighting each other, and it is believed that these men are Ralph de Baskerville, Lord of the Manor of Eardisley, and his father in law Lord Drogo of Clifford. Ralph actually killed his father in law in a quarrel over land ownership, and was so filled with remorse that he became a changed man and ended his days in Gloucester as a monk.
William Barnsley of Eardisley Park
This is one of two memorials relating to the Barnsley family, who were Lords of the Manor after the Baskervilles died out in 1666. This one is for William Barnsley of Eardisley Park, who died 23rd January 1760 aged 57, and also Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Walter Price, who died 8th April 1773 aged 63. “From the death of his father, they were involved in tedious law suits for 35 years, to the great prejudice of their health and estates” This legal battle of family pride and wealth, which was incredibly lengthy and went on for some 34 years, is said to have given Charles Dickens the idea for “Bleak House”.
The heading on the memorial to William Barnsley reads “Bubbles broken, but Death’s the Gate to Life – ( maybe a reference to the disgrace of fraud and forgery which brought down the family. Their reputation and pride was restored some time later by the out of favour daughter in law, Elizabeth …..but the legal battle was incredibly lengthy and went on for some 34 years! Charles Dickens is believed to have used their story as a basis for Bleak House)