Brockhampton the ruined Chapel
The now-ruined Chapel is one of the longest standing features of the Brockhampton Estate. During excavations carried out on the estate in 2015 a piece of Malvernian pottery was discovered, dating from around 1166. Linked to Bernard of Brockhampton’s era, the structure we see today is probably quite different from the one he first had built here.
The original chapel was made mostly from timber and daub (a mixture of mud and dung which becomes hard when set). The only surviving parts of this first construction are the surviving shallow foundations.
A family's wealth
The stone building we see today is likely to be the work of John Dumbleton. Archaeological investigations indicated the chapel and manor house would have been built in one go. Like the moat this would have been an impressive status symbol which would have shown off the family’s wealth and importance.
The chapel is constructed out of local stone and the 2015 excavations tell us it once had stone roof tiles with ceramic green glazed ridge tops and walls plastered with lime whitewash. Fragments of the tiles were also found in the moat which could also suggest the manor house roof may have once mirrored the chapel's.
How was it used?
The earliest record of services and clergy here is 1308; these continued until 1402. During that time its patron was always the estate owner who was responsible for providing financial support and ensuring the buildings upkeep. A break in the attendance of clergy from 1402 until 1757 suggests the building became a ‘chapel-of-ease’; a privately owned chapel which hosted services for those who could not reach churches in Bromyard. Marriages and baptisms would have taken place here under a special license granted from the Bishop. No burials have been recorded here.
A beautiful ruin
It is thought the chapel stopped being used when the new church was built. The new church coincided with the building of the new mansion on the estate. However, the chapel didn’t fall into disrepair until much later. John Habington Lutley apparently remembered it being in a usable state in around 1845, but by 1870 it had become ‘encumbered with rank weeds and parasitic plants’ as stated by Buckler.