History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford – thanks to Eddie Smith
J H Matthews: Hundred of Wormelow (Hereford, 1912)
The parish is named Llangein in Welsh, after the sixth century Saint Cein or Ceinwen, virgin, daughter of Caw ap Geraint parishes in Somerset, Keynsham, and Cornwall, Kenwyn, are also named after her. Her feast day is 8 October.
The old church was demolished after a fire in 1859 and the present one erected on its foundations. Near it is a square moated site originally believed to be the site of an original fortified mansion (but more recent speculation suggest that it is the site of a Tudor “pleasaunce)”.
The Scudamore monuments stood, in the old building, behind the communion table (Seaton, History of the Deanery of Archenfield, p49), “inserted in a projection which shewed externally”. The former tower was of the old type peculiar to West Herefordshire and East Monmouthshire, having the upper part of timber, capped with a low, tiled spire.
There are six bells, the treble and tenor were cast in 1973 by ????, the others are 1730 by Rudhall.
The following are the monumental inscriptions
John Scudamore Esq, son of John Scudamore of Kentchurch Court, MP for the City of Hereford. born 11 June 1757. Married 3 May 1797 Lucy, only daughter of James Walwyn Esq of Longworth. Died 12 April 1805.
Lucy, wife of John Scudamore, ob. 24 February 1798.
John Lucy Scudamore of Kentchurch, born 20 February 1798, ob 1 July 1875. (1)
Sarah Laura, wife of Lieutenant Colonel Scudamore of Kentchurch Court, daughter the Rt Hon Sir H J Jones Brydges Bart. of Boultbrooke, Radnorshire, Born 19 January 1797, died 27 May 1863.
John Scudamore Esq of Kentchurch, who married Amy daughter of John Starkie Esq of Darell, Cheshire, with issue 9 children, eight sons and one daughter, vide licet John, Philip, Richard, Ambrose, Humphry, James, Jonathan, Edward, and Marie, leaving her with child of the tenth. he died 30 March 1616, aged 37.
His mournful wikdowe to his worth still debtor
Built him this tombe but in her heart a better.
Arms: Baron: quarterly. I &IV gules, three stirrups leathered and buckled (Scudamore).
II lozengy argent and sable, a bend gules. III barry nebuly or and gules, a canton ermine.
Femme: quarterly. I & IV argent, a stork sable. A crescent for difference (Starkie). II counter-quarterly argent and gules, a lion rampant or. III argent, a chevron between three birds gules.
A tablet to John Scudamore “that setled bothe Religion & Peace amongst us.”
God’s cause had not a nobler undertaker
Nor the King’s Peace a worthier peacemaker.
Below is the recumbent effigy of a gentleman in Elizabethan armour and ruff, holding a book. He lies reclining on his left arm, his sword strapped with a red belt.
Under is the corresponding figure of a lady of the same period, in ruff and a blue dress and hood, also holding a book, lying in a similar posture.
Small effigies of nine children (seven? of whom are kneeling), two had their heads missing., and a smaller infant in a cradle. The youngest but one stands holding a skull.
Ann, wife of Roger Phillips, ob. 29 December 1764, aet 46
John, their son, ob. 4 February 1777, aet 23
Thomas their son, ob 4 March 177…, aet 28
Mary, wife of John Cook and daughter of Roger and Ann Phillips, ob 3 Aug 17….., aet 22
[Roge]r Phillips of Howton, ob … dec 1785.
………. Scudamore, gent., [son of Jo]hn Scudamore, ob …. November 1682.
Captain ………. Scudamore
A worn porphyry slab with arms at the top and date 1694. No inscription legible except “also Elizabeth.”
Arms: Baron: on a chevron between three eagles’ heads erased, as many cinquefoils pierced.
Femme: a pallet between two eagles displayed.
Revd George Gilbert, BA, Rector of Llangua, Monmouthshire, ob 1 Novemebr 1807, aet 45
Richard Heath of Thistlebrook, gent. ob 28 September 174…, aet 61
Mary, his daughter by Mary his former wife, ob. 21 February 1717 aet. 12
Ann, their daughter, ob. 10 May 1721, aet 14
Edward Jackson Esq, ob. 27 October 1694, the translation of the Latin reads
Here lies the body of Edward Jackson Esq, who for his great virtues will for ever be eminent among posterity. For when he departed, his most chaste wife lost a faithful husband, his children a most loving father, the Church a defender, his neighbours a generous host, rich men an ornament, poor people a protection, his friends an example, quarrelsome people a peace-maker, the unlearned an advisor, clever people a friend, the bad a terror, all good men a patron. Of upright life and full of natural humour, despising the world, he cheerfully cast off wordly cares 27 October 1694.
[He lived at Pontrilas Court]
Mary daughter of William Scudamore Esq and Penelope his wife, also a son (name illegible)
Mr John Bevan in 1729 left £8 a year for the school and for bread to the poor at Christmas and Easter.
Mrs Frances Scudamore in 1716 left every third year’s rent of the Charity Farm to apprentice poor children, and every third fallage of a coppice on the said farm for six poor widows of Kentchurch.
The base and platform of one step of the cross remain. On them a Celtic cross has been erected in memory of whom?
The other memorials range from 1725.
Inventory of church goods, 1550
Chalice and paten parcel gilt, weighing 13 ounces
4 bells, the first of 29 inches, the second 32 inches, the third 35 inches, the fourth 38 inches broad in the mouth.
Cross of brass and two cruets of lead.
Vestment of red velvet with a cross thereon broidered with silk and branched with gold.
Another vestment, of white silk.
Cope of red single sarcenet.
Three altar cloths.
Symond Jylbart parson
Pre-Reformation Rectors of Kentchurch with the Chapelry of Kenderchurch
1250 William de Tregoz 13 … John Kent
1275 Reginald Chaplain 1390 Reginald Lane
12 … Philip of Longbridge 1417 John Hales
12 … William ap Howel 1417 John Henbery
1297 William Chamberlain 1419 Hugh Carpenter
1302 Reginald of Shipton 1459 Howel ap Philip ap Owen
13 … John Worth 1459 William ap Howel ap Adam
1323 Roger Tilde 1468 William Bitt
1334 John of Henle 1471 John Worth
13 … William Balle 1479 William Lowe
1349 William of Foy 1481 Richard ap Howel
1351 Henry of Fownhope 1516 Hugh ap Howel
1370 John Morsed 1525 William Motlow
1381 John Chandos
Post-Reformation Rectors of Kentchurch
1539 George Piers 1727 Richard Roberts
1550 Simon Gilbert 17 … John Clerk
1568 David Evans 1759 James Allen
1587 Roger Bradshaw 1770 James Roberts
1591 John Gibson 1837 Henry Wetherall
1595 Simon Grover 1858 William Edward Sellon
1614 John Bagueley 1885 Morgan George Watkins
1638 Richard Hands 1906 Richard Pateshall Dansey
1662 John Tyler
1688 Joseph Watts
The advowson of Kentchurch was, circa 1100, granted by Harold de Ewyas to Gloucester Abbey.
In the 13th century the patronage of the benefice of this church belonged to the Abbey of St Peter of Gloucester. Under Pope Nicholas the church of Saint Keyne was valued at 10l (1291).
In 1302 and 1349 the Abbot presented to the rectory of the church of St Keyna cum capella s’c’i Candoris ad eand’ spectan’ (with the chapel of Saint Cynidr to the same belonging), shewing that Kenderchurch, in the Hundred of Webtree, was a chapelry to Kentchurch
The Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535) gives the name of William Motlow, clerk, as rector of Kentchurch. He had the tithes of grain, hay, milk, butter and cheese, lambs, wool, other small tithes, and offerings, as also the glebe. There was a yearly pension to the Abbot of Gloucester.
John of Kent
The personage who bears this name in the popular mouth is a historical (or quasi-historical) figure of such importance as to demand special notice notice in an account of this parish, with which he is so intimately connected.
In the traditions of the locality, Sion Kent (pronounced ‘Shon Kent’), as he was called in Welsh, is Tom Hockathrift or Jack the Giant-killer of the South Wales Marches. From a child he was always able to outwit the cunning of his fellow man, and of Satan himself. He has got a good deal mixed up with Giant Orgo of Abergavenny and Owen Glyndwr, and probably with several ancient arch-elves and hobgoblins of the Monnow Valley.
He confined a flock of crows in a roofless barn, tricked the Devil time after time, and (with diabolical aid) built the bridge across the Monnow, between Kentchurch and Grosmont, in one night. It has been called Pont Sion Cent, ‘John Kent’s Bridge’, ever since. When he was a young boy he made a compact with the Devil that he might be able to do anything that he set his hand to. After making use of his supernatural powers during a long life, he cheated his evil patron after his death, in the manner usual in such cases, by being buried ‘neither in the church nor out of it’, but just under wall. This resting place is variously said to be in Grosmont church, Monmouthshire (in the next parish west of Kentchurch), and under the chancel east window at Kentchurch itself.
To turn from Sion Cent of folklore, to the historical personage around whom so many myths have clustered, John is believed to have been born at Cwm Tridwr in Eglwysilan, Glamorgan, about the year 1300, of humble parentage. He had an uncle, a priest, who lived as a hermit at Llwyn Dafydd Du in Pentyrch, county Glamorgan. He instructed John in Welsh, English, Latin and barddoniaeth (the science of Welsh versification). When he had reached the age of manhood, John went to Kentchurch, as a stableman to Squire Scudamore. His conduct was so exemplary, that he soon earned good wages, which he employed in the purchase of books and writing materials for the continuance of his studies in his leisure time. His master having discovered the mental calibre and attainments of the stableman, John was presently appointed tutor to the squire’s sons. in this office also he displayed so much capacity, that the squire sent him to Oxford, where he was known as John of Kentchurch. At this seat of learning the young man was early recognised as an intellectual giant of the first magnitude. after receiving priestly ordination he held a teaching chair in the University. He resigned a Canonry of Angers, to enter the order of St Francis, of which he was one of the most distinguished lights, ranking in erudition with Friar Bacon himself. He became provincial of the Franciscans, and took a doctor’s degree. Having considerable scientific knowledge he, like Bacon, was accredited with occult and magical powers. After having served a cure in South Wales, he eventually returned to Kentchurch, of which parish he became rector, and he was also chaplain at the Court. The latter position he retained for the remainder of his long life.
Besides other works in the Latin tongue, Dr John of Kentchurch wrote a commentary on Lombard’s Common Pleas (Communia Placita). Among his own countrymen, however, his fame rests chiefly on his poems, whereof more than forty are yet extant in manuscript, all on religious and moral themes and manifesting the goodness and piety of their author. He also wrote a Grammar; the Fable of Einion ap Gwalchmai and the Woman of the Green Bush; a translation of the Missal and of the Saint John’s Gospel; the Speech of the Three Brothers, Pwyll, Nwyf, and Dysg (Reason, Energy, and Learning), and other pieces in Welsh, besides various learned treatises in the English language. Many of these poems are to be found in Elizabethan manuscripts the Llanover collection.
Dr John of Kentchurch is also known as Jack o’ Kent and John of Gwent. Jacky Kent is his actual local appellation.
A panelled chamber at Kentchurch Court is called John o’ Gwent’s bedroom; and not long ago people might still behold the stables of the great magician’s horses, which flew in the air like Lapland witches.