Kentchurch (formerly called Llanithog, a name now confined to one farm) derives its name from St Keyna. The church was originally dedicated to her, but this was superseded, probably in Henry VIII’s reign, by its present dedication to the BVM. Keyna (or Ceneu) was probably granddaughter of Brychan or Braghan, Prince of Wales, and nephew of St Cadoc. She lived at the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth century. She is said to have lived at Keynsham as well as Kentchurch. St Keyne’s Well still exists near St Neot’s, and is immortalised in Southey’s ballad. Until the last fifty years the name was always written Keynchurch, which unmistakeably connects it with the virgin saint. The postal service is credited with the omission of the ‘y’, in order that there might be no confusion with Kenchester.
In the Diocesan Register of Bishop Swinfield (1302) the church is spoken of as St Keyna’s, and is credited with a chapel, cum capella de Candoris ad eandem spectante.There are no remains of such a chapel at present. May not it be at Kenderchurch? In the Parliamentary Survey, 1643, the benefice is styled ‘a parsonage propriate, worth £60. Lord Protector is Patron. Richard Hawes incumbent.’ The church possesses 5 bells, of which the founders in 1730 were Messrs Rudhall.
The old Church, having become ruinous in 1859, was unfortunately razed to the ground and a new one erected, covering exactly the same site as the old one. The Scudamore monuments in the old church occupied a position exactly behind the communion table, inserted in a projection which shewed externally. They are now placed in the north chancel. In the old church the upper part of the tower was formed of timber, and this capped with a towered low spire. The new church was entirely rebuilt in the decorated style in 1859, at a cost of £1400.
In the King’s Book the church is valued at £10 12s 21/2d
In the thirteenth century the patronage of the benefice of Kentchurch belonged to the abbot and monastery of St Peter, Gloucester. They presented, and a mandamus seems to have been issued to the Rural Dean of ‘Irchinfield’, ordering him to induct. In 1886 the right of presentation belonged to the Lord Chancellor, but on Llangua being joined to Kentchurch in August, 1886, by Order in Council (its patronage previously having belonged to the Scudamore family), it was mutually agreed that every third turn of patronage to the two rectories should be ceded to that family.
The parish records are at present contained in eight separate volumes. They begin in the year 1686, but have not been perfectly kept, and at least one volume has been lost.
Near the river Monnow in this parish (which divides Herefordshire from Monmouthshire) is a ‘Bloomery’, known as ‘the Old Forge’. Several such buildings are scattered throughout this county. Their name imports that in old days iron ore was brought out of Wales to be smelted. It was a question whether to take the ore to the wood or to bring the wood to the ore were the cheaper process. The latter was chosen in this case.
The Manor House, a castellated mansion in Nash’s usual style, was erected in 1824, occupying the place of a much quainter building. Among the heirlooms is a portrait on panel of John of Kent. Before the alterations of Nash one long hall occupied most of the front. There is still an old circular tower with a garderobe, which may date from the end of the fourteenth century. It is known as Glendwr’s Tower. The front of the house now contains several fine rooms looking out on the park.
The deer park is chiefly composed of woodlands formerly belonging to the Hospitallers of the Commandery of Dinmore. It was granted in 1547 to Robert Thornhill, of Walkeringham, Notts, and Hugh, his brother, of whom they were purchased by John Scudamore, then of Nuneham Courtney. In round numbers it comprises 250 acres. It is tenanted by 130 fallow deer. Pontrilas, ‘the bridge of the three streams, is in this parish.