The 12th century church of St. Mary at Fownhope is one of the longest in the county, having been extended in the 14th century.

Strange case of the disintegrating Coffin

Major restoration work was carried out in the 19th century, and during renovations it was reported that Mr. Stone, a builder who was carrying out the work, excavated a brick vault.  Inside he discovered a beautiful oak coffin which was of an enormous size – some 8ft 6in in length and 3ft 6in across the broadest part.

The coffin was opened to reveal exceptionally preserved bones – but only for an instant, because they immediately started to crumble in the air.

No date or name was seen anywhere on the coffin, which also began to break up into tiny pieces.

I have yet to confirm the truth of this report!


Fownhope - Herefordshire - St. Mary - exterior









Fownhope - Herefordshire - St. Mary - interior










There are two fonts at St. Mary’s, both of which were lost for many years but then recovered and put back in the church.
The oldest of the two is 16th century and beautifully decorated with carvings, and was rescued from nearby ruins in 1858.



Fownhope - Herefordshire - St. Mary - tudor font











The later font is 17th century, and was rescued from the vicarage garden. It is thought that it was used for baptising children in the porch of the church, in order that they could enter as a full member of the congregation.



Fownhope - Herefordshire - St. Mary - portable font