Much Marcle is just off the A449 about 5 miles south-west of Ledbury.
(grid reference: SO 657327  -  nearby postcode: HR8 2PL) 

St Bartholomew's in Much Marcle is famous for the outstanding tomb of Blanche Mortimer (d1347), daughter of Roger Mortimer 1st Earl of March (d1330) and wife of Sir Peter Grandison 2nd Baron Grandison (d1358). In October 2013 restorers were surprised to discover Blanche's coffin inside the monument itself, rather than in the ground beneath. This caused much excitement when the news was made public in the following January. Blanche's body had been wrapped in what almost looked like a lead shroud.

Much Marcle Blanche

The church stands next to the old castle mound known as Mortimer's castle. It was the religious home of the Ballons, descendants of William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford (d1071) and the Ballon lords of Monmouth, Goodrich and Abergavenny. During 1275 Isolde Mortimer, the probable daughter of Roger Mortimer (d1282), married Walter Ballon (1225-88) and Roger acquired an interest in Much Marcle.

The earliest surviving portion of the church is now the thirteenth century nave and aisles. In the mid-fourteenth century a new chapel and chancel were built which also included a niche for a monument to Blanche Mortimer. In the fifteenth century a fine, tall tower was built between the chancel and nave, demolishing part of the chancel. It is noticeable that the chancel and nave were not properly aligned. The later tower takes the line of the nave and not the chancel.

Within the large church are several tombs, three of which may be members of the Mortimer family. The arcades leading to the two side aisles are fine early thirteenth century structures. The font would appear to be older.

In the churchyard is a yew tree thought to date back 1,500 years.

Much Marcle
Photo: ©

Notes by Paul Remfry
For more information about the church and village  - click here
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