Held at:

Hereford Public Library


Local Collection


Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club, 1959


Guest Contribution: Lost Chapel of St Leonard

Place name:

St Margarets, Turnastone, Golden Valley






by A. S. Wood


The late George Marshall, FSA., in his account of the church of Turnastone[1] describes an incident in connection with the church, and of an imbroglio which occurred in the reign of Edward I as to the incumbencies of the chapel of Turnastone, and the chapel of St. Leonard, and the respective rectories attached thereto, which caused bishop Swinfield to appeal to the king for his intervention in settling the dispute.

The account which is too lengthy to repeat concludes by saying: that it would be of interest to know where the chapel of St. Leonard was situated, and states it is last mentioned in 1301, when Adam de Orleton was appointed to the living, after which no trace of it occurs. Marshall adds that search in ancient rolls might disclose further record, but had not been attempted.

A long interval elapsed until recently amongst the Whitehouse archives, an abstract, dated 1806, with later additions, was found reciting particulars of many legal deeds relating chiefly to a property described as Combe Slough in the parish of St. Margarets, in the county of Hereford. The small-holding of Combe Slough (Cwm Slough, 1679, and of late years Slough Forge) of only 16 acres, is situated in the parish of St. Margarets, just across the Turnastone-St. Margarets parish boundary, on the bank of the Slough brook, which divides the two parishes for a length of a mile or more, and it is besides the Vowchurch-Turnastone-Michaelchurch Escley main road, at a distance of 1¼ miles from Turnastone village.

Quoting from the abstract the terms of the earliest deed, an indenture of lease, dated 1737, it reads : " ... made by Edward Harley of Eyewood in the county of Hereford, father of the earl of Oxford and earl Mortimer, of the one part and the said Thomas Price, deed, of the other part, the said Edward Harley in consideration of £60 to him paid as a fine by the said Thomas Price did demise grant set and to farm let unto the said Thomas Price his heirs and assigns all that messuage or tenement situate near St. Leonard's chapel in the parish of St. Margarets in the said county of Hereford together with the orchard backsides and garden lands arable meadow and pasture and woodlands unto the said messuage belonging or in any way appertaining. All of which were commonly called and known by the name of Combe Slough and reciting that the said premises were of such common recovery had been suffered were subject to an annual rent charge of £1,500 by way of jointure to the said Dowager Countess of Oxford for her life”.

Divers other properties on which the jointure was secured are referred to but none are specified as to location or extent.

Then follows details of several indentures in which a remarkable galaxy of nobles, notabilities, and gentlemen of lesser rank are mentioned as trustees, mortgagors, assigns, or having some interest in the humble holding of Combe Slough, most of whom could never have seen it, and probably never heard of it.

Included are: The Right Hon. Edward Harley, Auditor of the Imprest of His Majesty's Exchequer, and his son and heir of the same name. Sir Francis Charlton, Sir John Dashwood, The Hon. Thomas Morgan, Thomas, earl of Leicester, The Right Hon. Thomas Hay, Lord Viscount Dublin, Sir John Cust, Bt., The Right Hon. William Fitzwilliam, Earl Fitzwilliam, Viscount Milton, Lord Foley, William Duke of Portland, Lord Holland, Lord Digby, The Right Hon. Charles James Fox, The Right Hon. Thomas Harley of Berrington, and the Hon. and Rev. John Harley, dean of Windsor. In some instances the names of wives and dowagers are bracketed with them.

The second reference to Combe Slough is dated 1827, and not quite identical with the first, thus : " ... all that messuage and tenement with the malthouse outbuildings yard garden and orchard with the several closes adjoining near St. Leonard's chapel in the parish of St. Margarets in the county of Hereford" .

Although it might be assumed that St. Leonard's chapel was sited in St. Margarets, .the possibility cannot be ruled out that it may have been just over the parish boundary in Turnastone.

If it existed 150 years ago, its complete disappearance is strange, as no trace of a ruin or even of a possible site, is now visible. Therefore the position of the chapel of St. Leonard's is still unsolved.

[1] . Click here for an extract from the Woolhope N.F. Club, Transactions, 1916, pp. 96-98



Arthur Steward Wood (1880-1968) was the last of the Wood family to live at Whitehouse, St Margarets.


A Chapel was a building, or part of a house, that was used by a Chaplain for his offices in the performance of his duties. A domestic Chaplain was a private retainer of a Lord or landowner who helped to fulfil the religious needs of his master, his master’s family and his household. The most likely site of St Leonard’s Chapel would be, to be attached to, or within the house of Whitehouse. Arthur Wood was apparently unaware of any surviving tradition of a Chapel being at Whitehouse


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