The most amazing little church.....one is struck by the sheer fairy tale quality of the interior, although this description rather demeans the beauty

The most amazing little church.....one is struck by the sheer fairy tale quality of the interior, although this description rather demeans the beauty

Font of Romanesque origin, embellished with four lions nose to tail

Font of Romanesque origin, embellished with four lions nose to tail

View showing lid of font

View showing lid of font

Victorian Font, given to the church when the original twelfth century font was thought to be out of keeping with the church

Victorian Font, given to the church when the original twelfth century font was thought to be out of keeping with the church

Byton etc. 037

Byton etc. 038

Possibly the most important family connected with Shobdon, were the Batemans starting with Sir James Bateman (1660-1718). He bought the Shobdon Estate in 1705 from Sir Robert Chaplin for the, then, vast sum of £30.428, and was already important in London society, having been Lord Mayor; Director of the Bank of England, Deputy Governor of the South Sea Company; an MP and Sheriff of London, and Director of the East India Company. Sir James Bateman replaced the old Jacobean Shobdon Court with a Palladian style mansion, which stood close to the church until 1933 when it was demolished. Sir James died in 1718 and was buried with splendid ceremony at night in Surrey at the Church of Tooting Graveney – he bequeathed the whole Shobdon estate to his eldest son, William (1695-1744) who was 23 at the time. He married Anne Spencer in 1720, daughter of Charles Spencer the 3rd Duke of Sutherland and master of Althorp and granddaughter of John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough, and during the next twenty seven years William extended the extensive land holdings to include much of Kingsland, Wigmore, Aymestrey and Lingen. He became MP for Leominster and in 1725 George 1 gave him an Irish Peerage and he became Baron Culmore and First Viscount Bateman. In 1732 he became a Knight of the Order of the Bath. Unfortunately, his marriage did not last and they separated in 1738 – William died in Paris some six years later, and his heart is buried at Shobdon.

William’s oldest son John, born 1721, took on the management of the estate along with his uncle Richard (William’s brother), however John was rarely there being busy in London, so Richard (died 1773) ran things at Shobdon and organised the demolition of the Norman church and the building of a new one. The reasons for this are not known, but it is very sad that they destroyed one of the most beatiful Romanesque churches in the country – however, the new one is equally important. Lord John Bateman died in 1802 at the age of 80.

Sacred to the memory of John, Lord Viscount Bateman, Baron of Culmore in the Kingdom of Ireland.  One of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council and many years Lord Lieutenant of this County. His virtues did honour to human nature, he was generous and charitable without ostentation;  of elegant manners, friendly and hospitable.  He lived revered and died lamented by all who had the happiness of knowing his worth.  In grateful remembrance of the many benefits received from him, this monument was caused to be erected by his near kinsmen, and, through his munificence the present possessor of this Estate.

Sacred to the memory of John, Lord Viscount Bateman, Baron of Culmore in the Kingdom of Ireland. One of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council and many years Lord Lieutenant of this County. His virtues did honour to human nature, he was generous and charitable without ostentation; of elegant manners, friendly and hospitable. He lived revered and died lamented by all who had the happiness of knowing his worth. In grateful remembrance of the many benefits received from him, this monument was caused to be erected by his near kinsmen, and, through his munificence the present possessor of this Estate.

Neither Richard nor Lord John had heirs, and the Estate passed to William Hanbury (1780-1845) of Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire in 1802…….he was descended from Sir James Bateman on the female line. It was not until 1837 that Mr. Hanbury became a peer, so for a gap of 35 years where was no Lord Bateman at Shobdon. In order to formalise the title, William had to change his name to Bateman-Hanbury.

The Second Baron Bateman, William (1826-1901) son of the above, took the title of Lord on the death of his father in 1845 and was Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire for nearly 50 years, being involved in the life of the county as well as the Shobdon Estate. He loved hunting, and owned a racehorse, which perhaps hints at a lavish lifestyle…….certainly his finances dwindled to the point where Shobdon had to be heavily mortgaged. Even though he had to live more frugally, he still did exemplary public works in his post of Lord Lieutenant. He died in London in 1901 and his body was buried at Shobdon amongst much grieving.

The Third Baron Bateman, yet another William (1856-1931) was the eldest of eleven children and took on the title at the age of 45 when his father died in 1901 – when he died in 1931 and the Bateman dynasty ended. Slowly but surely the estate was broken up as money became tighter and tighter and these days very little of the big house remains except for the former servant’s wing.