Aymestrey Church

Aymestrey was another vill that fell into Mortimer hands in 1075 and remained with them for the rest of their time as barons of Wigmore. The church was certainly standing by 1140 around which date Oliver Merlymond, Hugh Mortimer's steward, granted it to Shobdon priory which he had recently founded. Hugh also made Oliver's son, Eudes Merlymond, parson of Aymestrey. Merlymond and Mortimer fell out soon afterwards and Hugh Mortimer resumed control of Aymestrey around 1145 and may have destroyed this church as well as Lye church around 1148. The church was soon rebuilt for between 1174 and 1179 Hugh Mortimer granted Aymestrey church to his new foundation of Wigmore abbey. By 1292 the Mortimers had sub-infeudated Aymestrey to the Lingens and it is likely that they were responsible for the later tower and aisles of the church.

The oldest part of the church is undoubtedly the western two-thirds of the chancel. This still retains two original, narrow semi-circular headed lights, which could be Saxon. The southern one of these has been blocked. The nave would seem to have been built next and probably during the early years of Mortimer patronage. Next the base of the west tower was probably added and the chancel extended eastwards with a better quality stone than the original build. Finally the aisles were added with what looks like very plain thirteenth or fourteenth century arcade piers. Above them the windows in the clerestorey look late thirteenth century and are likely to have been reset in the sixteenth century. The impressive west door appears to be made from reused materials. Despite some suggestions that these come from Wigmore abbey this seems very unlikely as excavation shows that the Wigmore abbey nave was aisleless. The upper stories of the tower would appear to date from a fifteenth century rebuilding.

There is a fine alabaster slab to John Lingen (d.1506), a descendant of one of the major Mortimer of Wigmore tenants, within the church.

Copyright©2013 Paul Martin Remfry

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