Eastnor 010

This is possibly the earliest font on show in the country - the base was carved early in the 14th century, showing that even then the bowl was thought to be important enough to warrant new support.  The depth of the bowl is such that it is clear that it was intended for total immersion of babies.  The square opening at the side may have been for holding a pot of baptismal oil.

This is possibly the earliest font on show in the country - the base was carved early in the 14th century, showing that even then the bowl was thought to be important enought to warrant new support. The depth of the bowl is such that it is clear that it was intended for total immersion of babies, and the square opening at the side may have been for holding a pot of baptismal oil. There is a hinged cover fitted with a lock, but the staples for locking the font were removed at the time of the Reformation.

more modern font, and the one that is in current use

more modern font, and the one that is in current use

Charles Somers Cocks - 3rd Earl Somers;  2nd Viscount of Eastnor; 4th Baron Somers; 4th Baronet Evesham.  Born 14th July 1819 and died 26th September 1883.  This tomb is housed in a large family vault where there are very many plaques and memorials to the Somers Cocks family

Charles Somers Cocks - 3rd Earl Somers; 2nd Viscount of Eastnor; 4th Baron Somers; 4th Baronet Evesham. Born 14th July 1819 and died 26th September 1883. This tomb is housed in a large family vault where there are very many plaques and memorials to the Somers Cocks family

Staff Capt. Reginald Somers Cocks, killed by a shell at Ouderdom on 24th April 1918 aged 23.  This cross was retrieved from France by the family.

Staff Capt. Reginald Somers Cocks, killed by a shell at Ouderdom on 24th April 1918 aged 23. This cross was retrieved from France by the family.

Francis Wentworth Bell, born Chapel Allerton Nr. Leeds.  Warden of this church from 1889 to 1918.  Died 20th January 1929 aged 71 after 5 years of suffering.

Francis Wentworth Bell, born Chapel Allerton Nr. Leeds. Warden of this church from 1889 to 1918. Died 20th January 1929 aged 71 after 5 years of suffering.

A lovely stone angel, monument to Bertha Mary Gray who died 17th November 1900 aged 5.  Also Oliver John Gray who was killed in East Africa 9th May 1914 aged 24, and their parents William Valentine Gray who died 3rd March 1926 in Surrey aged 63 and Emmeline Ruth Gray who died 10th May 1939 aged 75

A lovely stone angel, monument to Bertha Mary Gray who died 17th November 1900 aged 5. Also Oliver John Gray who was killed in East Africa 9th May 1914 aged 24, and their parents William Valentine Gray who died 3rd March 1926 in Surrey aged 63 and Emmeline Ruth Gray who died 10th May 1939 aged 75

Eastnor is a tiny village just a mile or so from Ledbury, and is dominated by Eastnor Castle, work on which was started in 1810, and completed in 1820.
When one of the wealthy landowning Cocks’ family moved to Eastnor at the end of the 16th century they.
married into the Worcestershire Somers’ family and the sum of their estates – including the inheritance left by the Lord Chancellor Somers in the early 18th century and the banking wealth of the Cocks Biddulph Bank (now incorporated into Barclays Bank) – gave the 1st Earl Somers the funds to start building Eastnor Castle. He married the daughter of the wealthy Worcestershire historian, Dr Treadway Nash. Robert Smirke was appointed as architect of the building, and people’s opinions on the Norman Revival style vary considerably, but actually I think that it is beautiful, and it stands in the most glorious grounds.
In the 1870s, the agricultural downturn caused a massive drop in the wealth of the Somers Cocks family, and the Earldom died out in 1883. The last Lord Somers inherited the Castle in around 1920, but it was a sadly depleted estate and in 1926 Lord Summers moved to Australia with his family when he was made Governor of Victoria. The castle was left empty until 1931 when the family returned and some improvements were made to the interior, but when war broke out it was left empty once again. Lord Summers widow did live there again for a few short years after the war but her finances were crippled by hefty death duties. In 1949 the Hon. Elizabeth Somers Cocks and Benjamin Hervey-Bathurst moved into the castle and set about restoration and repair work. Their son is the present owner.

During the building period of the castle, there would have been many local people employed as labourers or craftsmen, and once completed there would have been many household staff……..so if your ancestors came from the Eastnor area around this time then they may well have been employed by the castle.

The story of the old font deserves embellishment. It was found beneath the floor of the Nave when this was being rebuilt in 1851, and the much more modern base was carved early in the 14th century. It was clearly designed for total immersion of babies, and there is a hinged cover with a lock which meant that not only the holy water could be kept safe, but also other valuables. All fonts from the middle of the 13th century up until the Reformation were locked by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1236, as a safeguard against sorcery, and possibly also to prevent “hedge priests” from secretly baptising babies at a fee lower than that of the Parish Priest. The staples for locking the font were removed during the Reformation.