We know that mediaeval British churches often had famous local shrines but none survive today like the ones you meet in France, such as Orcival (ND May 2011) or Pibrac (ND July 2012). We know there was one here at Madley because in 1318 the parishioners informed the Dean and Chapter of Hereford Cathedral that offerings made before the statue of the Virgin Mary were meant for the fabric of the new [sic] chancel. 

Herefordshire does not really ‘do’ Perp like East Anglia, but the county contains a group of very distinguished churches in the Decorated style, and Madley takes some beating. The biggest surprise is the apsidal chancel, as these were pretty much abandoned in England after the Romanesque period. It’s not all Decorated of course. Part of the earlier building survives – notably the 12th c. north transept which is now the north porch. Then they built an aisled nave – the 14th c. architects reused the arcade piers – and the present tower. Early in the 14th c. the chancel and the crypt below were constructed, and a decade or so after that, the Chilston chapel – essentially another full-length aisle – was added on the S side, with characteristic reticulated tracery of the 1330s. 

The interior is spacious and unencumbered, with little seating. What furnishings there are repay attention, like the former screen converted into the Lulham family pew at the end of the N. aisle. There is fine carving to be found in the stalls and particularly in the caryatid angels supporting the bookrest on the 17th c. pulpit. The E window has a mixture of 13th and 14th c. glass, the former with NT scenes, the latter with OT kings and prophets.

Truly, Madley is a deeply interesting church. 


Map Reference: SO 420387

Simon Cotton