Pembridge, St Mary the Virgin
The medieval, Grade I listed church of St Mary the Virgin is perched on a gentle rise above the charming “black and white” village of Pembridge in Herefordshire.
The church and its associated bell tower form important features in the Pembridge Conservation Area.
The church is rich in furnishings and fittings, including two fine C15th chest tombs with pairs of effigies, thought to be members of the Gour family, and a good collection of C17th and C18th monuments.
Other furnishings of note include a large C13th font and several interesting examples of Jacobean woodwork, notably the pulpit.
The church houses the Pembridge Tapestries, which tell the history of the village in 12 panels, from the Norman conquest through to the present day.
For many years, St Mary’s has sheltered a maternity colony of Natterer’s bats. These bats have been found roosting in the apex of the roofs of the south transept, south aisle and nave. Significant accumulations of droppings and urine spotting occurs below roof trusses at the east end of the nave, in the south transept and at the west end of the south aisle, with lighter scatterings at the west end of the nave.
Common and soprano pipistrelles, and brown long-eared bats, have also been recorded roosting in the church.
Surveys carried out for the Bats in Churches Project in 2019 by a registered ecologist revealed a reduction in the numbers of Natterer’s bats compared to previous years, although the cleaning burden throughout the breeding season remained substantial.
Further surveying of the bat population took place over the summer of 2020. The first stage of the mitigation work is scheduled for March 2021.
Existing roosts within the western end of the nave and south transept are to be enclosed with wooden boarding to prevent droppings falling inside the church. A wildlife camera will be installed in one of these enclosures to allow remote viewing of bats roosting inside the church.
The ecologist and the church hosted a bat night in August 2019 for local people to learn about the church’s bats and the work being undertaken by the project. Further bat walks and events are planned for the future in conjunction with the Herefordshire Mammal Group.
The Bats in Churches team visited Pembridge CE Primary School in February 2020 to deliver a specially designed Bats in Churches workshop to the Y4, 5 and 6 children, which was enthusiastically received.