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Cotswold Churches


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Cotswold churches

Visiting churches is very much an English tradition. There is always a sense of excitement as you push open a church door as you never know what you may find. Even the most uninspiring exterior may hold unsuspected delights. We spent several weekends exploring the churches of the Cotswolds and surrounding area in 2014. I've included post code and a grid reference for each church.

The Cotswolds is renowned for its parish churches. Many have been there for a thousand years and contain some of the earliest Saxon work to survive in the country. Others are wonderful examples of Norman architecture. Some have examples of medieval wall paintings. There are splendid tombs to wealthy patrons and land owners. Others have wonderfully carved woodwork. The great ‘wool’ churches are some of the best examples of Perpendicular architecture in England

Other churches are now remote from their congregations, are rarely used, and are now left gently falling into disrepair. Some of these are now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

This trip report covers the many churches we visited. I’ve described them in alphabetical order rather than by geographical area. It also includes a few churches which are just outside the recognised boundaries of the Cotswolds which are worth visiting.


#2 Adderbury, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church
#3 Ampney St Mary, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#4 Asthall, Oxfordshire - St Nicholas Church
#5 Baunton, Gloucestershire - Church of St Mary Magdalene
#6 Beverston, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#7 Bibury, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#8 Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire - St Michael and All Angels
#9 Bloxham, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church
#10 Buckland, Gloucestershire - St Michael’s Church
#11 Burford, Oxfordshire - St John the Baptist
#12 Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire - St James Church
#13 Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church
#14 Cirencester, Gloucestershire - Church of St john the Baptist
#15 Daglingworth, Gloucestershire - Holy Rood Church
#16 Deerhurst, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Priory
#17 Deerhurst, Gloucestershire - Odda’s Chapel
#18 Down Ampney, Gloucestershire - All Saints’ Church
#19 Duntisbourne Abbots, Gloucestershire - St Peter’s Church
#20 Duntisbourne Rous, Gloucestershire - - St Michael’s Church
#21 Eastleach St Martin, Gloucestershire - St Michael and St Martin Church
#22 Eastleach Turville, Gloucestershire - St Andrew’s Church
#23 Elkstone, Gloucestershire - Church of St John the Evangelist
#24 Fairford, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#25 Fulbrook, Oxfordshire - St James the Great
#26 Hailes, Gloucestershire - Hailes Church
#27 nglesham, Wiltshire - Church of St John the Baptist
#28 Lechlade, Gloucestershire - St Lawrence’s Church
#29 Little Barrington, Gloucestershire - St Peter’s Church
#30 Little Washbourne, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#31 Lower Oddington, Gloucestershire - St Nicholas Church
#32 Malmesbury, Wiltshire - Malmesbury Abbey
#33 Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire - St Kelelm’s Cbhurch
#34 North Cerney, Gloucestershire - All Saints’ Church
#35 Oldbury on the Hill, Gloucestershire - St Arild’s Church
#36 Ozleworth, Gloucestershire - St Nicholas of Myra
#37 South Leigh, Oxfordshire - St James the Great
#38 South Newington, Oxfordshire - St Peter ad Vincula Church
#39 Stoke Orchard, Gloucestershire - St James the Great
#40 Swinbrook, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church
#41 Taynton, Oxfordshire - St John the Evangelist
#42 Temple Guitting, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church
#43 Tetbury, Gloucestershire - Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene
#44 & #45 Tewksbury, Gloucestershire - Tewkesbury Abbey
#46 Whittington, Gloucestershire - St Bartholomew's Church
#47 Winchcommbe, Gloucestershire - St Peter’s Church
#48 Windrush, Gloucestershire - St Peter’s Church
#49 Widford, Oxfordshire - St Oswald’s Church
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Adderbury, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church

A large parish church

Adderbury is an attractive village of deep honey coloured ironstone houses, with the church set on high ground at the south of the village.

It is a large and attractive church, built around 1250. The side aisles and tower are C14th. In the C15th, the church was under the control of New College in Oxford., and a magnificent new chancel was built between 1408-19, funded by William of Wykeham. His arms appear above the east window.

The tall west tower with an open carved balustrades with trefoils has corner turrets and a tall spire. The west door is no longer used and has multiple arches round the doorway with carved heads at their base. There is a very large chancel with huge perpendicular style windows. The transepts are as tall as the chancel and have a clerestory.

Entry is through the south porch. Inside it is a large church with octagonal pillars and big pointed arches. The nave is wide with plain glass clerestory windows making the church feel light.

At the back of the church is an octagonal font and the tower arch is slightly offset to the nave.

The transept arches have fluted pillars with carved capitals with figures of knights in armour and ladies in wimples.

The north transept contains the Lady Chapel and has panelling round the base and a simple altar and piscina. The south transept has a stone table altar with the remains of small consecration crosses carved on the top. Above is a wooden triptych with Christ crucified in the centre panel with the Virgin Mary and St John on the doors. Near it is a large carved chest dated 1725 with decorative iron work of lilies.

On a pillar set under a crocketted pinnacle, is a statue of St George killing the dragon with a Roll of honour from both world wars. To the left is a rather nice painted wood memorial.

The C15th rood screen was heavily restored by Gilbert Scott.

This has carved panels at the base, open tracery above and a fan vaulted roof. It still has the rood loft which is reached by stairs through a door in a pillar.

There is a very elegant chancel dominated by the stained glass east window. This has scenes of the Passion at the top and the Nativity below. On either side are pedestals with statues of the Virgin Mary and an angel holding a lily. Above are tall crocketted pinnacles set in arches under a carved top.

The stone reredos stretches the width of the east window and has fourteen figures set in ogee arches. These are the eleven apostles with St Barnabas, St Mathias, St Paul, Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary.

On the south wall is a three seater sedilia with quatrefoils carved under the seats and pinnacled arches above.

The wooden choir stalls have attractively carved fronts and misericords.

The church is open daily and there is parking on the road outside. The nerarest post code is OX17 3LT and the grid reference is SP 47135.
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Ampney St Mary, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church

A small neglected churc, but worth finding with the remains of wall paintings

St Mary's is a tiny church set back from the A471 and partially hidden by trees and a wall. It would be easy to miss it as you speed along between Cirencester and Fairford. This would be a great shame as it is a lovely little church, a real undiscovered gem.

Originally the village of Ampney St Mary would have been around the church. After the Black Death in 1350, the village moved to higher ground about a mile away to the north west, leaving the church isolated. In the C19th, the parish was amalgamated with Down Ampney and the church fell into disuse, becoming overgrown by ivy. It was 'rediscovered' in 1913 and the ivy removed. A hundred years later it is still referred to as the 'Ivy Church'. It is one of the few churches to have remained virtually unchanged since Norman times.

It is a simple building. The nave dates from the early C12th. The chancel was built in the C13th and the bell cote at the east end of the nave and the south porch were added in the C14th.

At some time the north door has been blocked but the beautifully carved lintel has a lion (symbol of good) is trampling two serpents (evil) with a winged griffon looking on.

Entry is through the south porch which still has the stone seats used during parish meetings. The original nail studded door is still there, set under a pointed arch.

There is always a sense of excitement the first time we visit a church and open the door. We were not let down here. It is a lovely church, untouched by time with a barrel roof with solid beams across with the remains of carved shields along the base. The north wall of the nave is gently collapsing, as is the south wall of the chancel.

At the back of the south wall is a small window carved from single block of stone, which is thought to be Saxon. Facing the doorway is an ancient tub font with chevron carving around the bowl.

A painted corona hangs from the ceiling for candles. Seating is plain wooden benches. The very narrow chancel arch has a low stone screen across the bottom, which is most unusual. Near it is the simple wood panelled pulpit.

The chancel is also simply furnished with a choir stall on either side. There is a simple altar rail and a small wood panelled reredos above the high altar. The east window contains C19th stained glass.

The thing which really catches the attention are the remains of C12-C14th wall paintings. Much of the nave walls are covered with 'stoning' in imitation of blocks of stone. Some have a red 'rose' pattern.

Many of the wall paintings are in poor condition and difficult to decipher, but there are several places where small areas of painting survive in beautiful detail. In a window recess is a super painting of a face.

On the north wall wall is a representation of St Christopher, although you really do need the eye of faith to see this.

On the south wall by the door, are a variety of everyday tools including a pair of pincers, a wheel and a horn.

There is a man holding a telescope like object to his eye. This, apparently, is a singing or whistling arrow which makes a humming noise when swung.

To the left of the south door is a face which is thought to be Christ, leading to the suggestion this is a mural of the Warning to Sabbath Breakers with Christ's wounds bleeding when forbidden tasks are undertaken on the Sabbath Day.

To the right of the door are the heads of several people with masonry structures.

The church is open every day. It is on the A417 between Ampney Crucis and Ampney St Peter, nearly opposite the turn to Ampney St Mary. There is a small pull off area on the grass by the road and a tiny sign about the Ivy Church. The nearest post code is GL7 5RU and the grid reference is SP 075015.
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Asthall, Oxfordshire - St Nicholas Church

Norman carvings and C19th painted walls and ceiling in the chancel

Asthall is a small sleepy village of very large stone manor houses on the River Windrush. The church, surrounded by its churchyard with roll top tombs, is set on the higher ground to the west of the settlement.

It is a typical small village church built by the Normans and enlarged in the C14th and C15th.

Inside, there is a Norman arcade with round pillars with carved capitals between the nave and north aisle.

The chancel arch has the characteristic Norman beakhead carvings round the outside.

At the back of the church is a big round Norman tub font and the remains of the clock mechanism dating from 1670.

At the end of the north aisle is a small chantry chapel with the tomb of Lady Joan Cornwall set under an elaborate ogee arch. The window contains some fragments of Medieval glass with the Cornwall arms. On the floor are old grave slabs. In the corner is a piscina and small stone altar. A low stone screen separates it from the chancel.

The chancel has a simple altar and altar rail. The walls were painted by the Victorians with images of Old Testament characters set inside circles. Between them are smaller circles with IHS or fleur de lys. Round the top of the east window are painted angels. The gold paint shines in the sunlight. The roof panels have flower motifs and big carved corbels at the ends of the beams. There is a painted frieze round the base of the ceiling. There are no choir stalls, just two chairs for the celebrants.

Above the arch into the north chantry chapel is a painting of Gabriel holding a banner “Hail, thou art highly favoured.... The top of the arch cuts through the rest of the inscription, which continues as “Lord unto thee by Mary’ with the figure of the Virgin and Child.

On the south wall is a large memorial to William Arthur Bayford Kirwan-Ward, only son of the Vicar, who died in 1915 and was buried at sea off Cape Helles.

The church is open daily and there is parking on the road by the church. The nearest post code is OX18 4HW and the grid reference is
SP 287114.
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Baunton, Gloucestershire - Church of St Mary Magdalene

Wall paintings and a C15th embroidered atar cloth

Set at the end of the road in the small hamlet of Baunton, this is a tiny Norman church which receives few visitors. It is a peaceful place, set in a big graveyard with neatly trimmed yew trees. The only sound is that of bees.

It is a simple church with flat roofed nave with a double bell cote at the west end and a small chancel with a gable roof. The church is unusual as it has no east window, which may be a survival of Celtic Christianity.

The church dates from 1150 and was built by the monks of nearby Cirencester Abbey who owned farmland round here. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it became the parish church. It retains much of its original shape and character. A major restoration by the Victorians added the vestry on the north wall and removed the plaster from the walls. This was when the C14th wall painting of St Christopher was found which has been carefully restored.

This covers most of the north wall and shows St Christopher crossing a stream and carrying the Christ Child with an orb representing the world in his hand. Unfortunately the face of Christ is masked by a later stone corbel supporting the roof. On the right bank is a church with a hermit holding up a lantern to guide travellers. On the left is a fisherman with a basket of fish. This is thought to represent Satan ’fishing’ for souls. The fish swimming round St Christopher’s feet are beautifully detailed.

The sixteen sided font is probably C16th but rests on the base of the original Norman font. The pulpit is made up of Jacobean carved wood panels.

Hidden behind a curtain on the south wall is the C15th altar cloth. This was originally made up of alternating panels of yellow and brown damask material but they have now all faded to a cream colour. It is beautifully embroidered using metal and silk thread.

In the centre is the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St James on either side of the cross. This is surrounded by double headed eagles. Below is an eagle (the symbol of St John) carrying an ass and a barrel or tun. This is thought to be a pun on the name of John Ashton, who is thought to have paid for the cloth.

A small and very simple Norman chancel arch leads into the chancel. Compared with the rest of the church, this feels dark as the only light comes through a small window in the north wall.

The remains of the rood screen now acts as a reredos on the east wall. In a corner is a small piscina.

The church is opened daily by a volunteer so don’t plan to get there too early in the morning. There is parking on the road outside. The nearest post code is GL7 7DH and the grid reference is SP 022046.
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Beverston, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church

Some Saxon and Norman work but heavily restored in the C19th with a most unusual roof

Beverston is a small settlement with a few houses around the ruins of a medieval castle and the church.

The church is Norman, although there is a small pre conquest figure of Christ on the south wall above a small Norman window.

The original church was built around 1225 when the castle was rebuilt. It had a tower, nave, chancel and south aisle. The chancel and transeptal chapel were added in 1361 when the castle was refortified.

By the C19th, the church had fallen into a poor state of repair. The initial restoration was a disaster as the rood screen was taken out, carvings hacked off the font, frescoes stripped from the walls and a very unusual roof structure with beams jutting out and hanging bosses. Later the rood screen was rescued from the Rector’s garden where it had been used as a pergola and returned to its rightful position in the church

Entry is through the south porch enclosing a wooden door with huge hinges. On either side round columns with carved capitals support a round arches with scroll like carving round the outside.

Inside it is a stark church with light streaming in through the plain glass windows and throwing the pale plaster walls and dark roof ribs and dark pews into strong contrast.

The round pillars with carved capitals support transitional pointed arches between nave and side aisle. There is little ornamentation in the church, a carved stone pulpit and a few stone memorials and brass tablets on the walls.

The C15th rood screen is very dark varnished wood with tall opening doors.The overall sombre effect is relieved by the small gold flowers along the top. The crucifix with the Virgin and St John are newer and made from much paler wood.

The stairs to the old rood loft are in the wall behind the stone pulpit.

The chancel is empty apart from a priest’s chair, reading desk, altar rail and simple altar beneath the plain glass east window. The chancel roof is much more traditional, with a few ribs across with gilded bosses.

The small chapel off the north wall has a passageway squint to the chancel. It has a painting of Mary and the Christ Child above an altar.

The church is open 9-5 every day. It is just off the A4135 to the west of Tetbury. Ignore the small wooden sign pointing down a muddy track to the church. Instead, take the made road to the castle which also takes you to the church. There is parking by the church.

The nearest post code is GL8 8TU and the grid reference is ST 862940.
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Bibury, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Church

An attractive church with Saxon and Norman work

Bibury is an attractive small Cotswold village with stone houses, rows of almshouses and a small bridge over the River Coln. There are attractive gardens in the trout farm and a small tea room. It is becoming a photo stop on day tours. The church is tucked away at the east of the village, next to the primary school.

It is an impressive building, stark almost, with battlemented tower and nave. There has been a church here since the C8th and there is a fragment of a Saxon grave slab embedded in the masonry of the north wall of the chancel. There are more carved Saxon stones inside the church.

The nave was lengthened by the Normans and north and south doors are excellent examples of Norman workmanship. Side aisles were added in the C13th and the nave was heightened and a clerestory added in the C15th.

The north door has narrow pillars with carved capitals and there is a narrow caved frieze round the top of the door. Originally it would have had a semi circular tympanum but this was later cut away to form an unusual trifoliate arch. The round arch has chevrons decorated with small balls. Outside this are billets.

Entry is through the south door, a heavy nail studded door set under a round arch.

Inside it feels a BIG church. Walls are whitewashed and the clear glass windows flood the church with light. In some ways it is almost an austere church, but this is relieved by all the detail.

Inside the door is a sturdy C13th square font set on legs and with double arches carved on the sides of the bowl.

In a niche behind it are remains of Saxon and later carved stones. One has a consecration cross.

The white stone pulpit has contrasting dark stone pillars.

The arcades are described as Norman Transitional. Solid Norman round pillars support slightly pointed arches. Some of these have fine chevron carving.

The chancel arch is very tall and narrow. It dates from the C15th and replaced an earlier Saxon arch. The Saxon jambs with their carved capitals survive.

Above are two small blocked ‘Cotswold’ windows which would have let light onto the now long gone rood screen.

The wooden beam roof dates from the C15th and the beams end in carved stone corbels. Pews are modern.

On the south wall at the back of the nave are two large framed C18th Italian embroideries. One shows St Margaret of Antioch killing the dragon that tried to swallow her. The other has what looks like a pope and a pilgrim looking up at a sunburst (however the information leaflet in the church describes them as Martha, a Franciscan monk and an Episcopal saint). A plaque next to them explains they were given in memory of Beatrice Rhoda Gibbs 1870-1945 and her brothers, but there is no other information.

The chancel is empty apart from a carved priest's chair and a high backed settle with linen fold panelling and a carving of the crucifixion with praying figures on either side.

The high altar is set under three lancet windows with C20th stained glass. Underneath are three aumbry cupboards with more on the side walls.

The church is open 8am until dusk and there is parking on the road outside the grounds. The nearest post code is GL7 5NR and the grid reference is SP 118065.
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Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire - St Michael and All Angels Church

Some good Norman carvings

Bishop’s Cleeve is a large cruciform church set in a big churchyard and was built on the site of a Saxon Monastery. It is a splendid church and still has some medieval wall paintings. The west front and nave still retain much of the original Norman work. Side aisles and chantry chapels were added in the C14th. In 1696, the tower collapsed onto the chancel which had to be rebuilt. A gallery was added in the C17th. The church was in very poor state and underwent a major restoration in 1890s. Only a small part of the medieval wall paintings could be saved as the wall was unsafe and had to be rebuilt.

It is worth walking round the outside of the church before going in as there is some splendid stonework. The tall central tower is very plain compared to the rest of the church. It has battlements, turrets at the corners and winged gargoyles.

The east window in the chancel was replaced in the C19th in the Decorated style. It has elaborate tracery and ball flower carving round the outside of the arch. On the south wall is a small Norman priest’s door with more ball flower carving and a cross on top of the archway.

The south chapel between the transept and porch was originally a chantry chapel and is battlemented. The west end is still the original Norman work, although the window is later. It has a beautiful Norman doorway with chevron carvings round the arches and serpent’s heads.

The south porch is big and has a room above it. The porch played a very important role in the church. The first part of the baptism and marriage ceremonies were performed here. Penitent sinners were given absolution from their sins before entering the church. Secular business included the signing of contracts, swearing of oaths and debt collection.

The doorway into the church is a marvellous example of Norman work with chevron carving and a crenellated arch below. Round the outside are two dragons with intertwined tails, each swallowing another creature.

The supporting arches have beautifully carved capitals, including a green man. There is a vaulted ceiling and blind arcade of interlaced arches and colonnades on the walls on either side.

Above the door are two sundials superimposed upon each other.

Inside, the church has a Norman nave with round pillars with simply carved capitals and round arches. In the 16th/17th centuries alternate pillars were removed to form very wide arches. Small carved Norman arches above wooden doors lead into the north and south transepts.

When we visited in April 2014, the chancel was closed off by scaffolding and polythene sheeting as alterations were being carried out to turn the chancel into a vestry and meeting room. The altar is now in the crossing with a painted triptych with a crucifix in the centre.

At the back of the church is a C17th wooden gallery supported on wooden pillars. This is reached by a big wood staircase and the choir sings from it. Below the open balustrade is a carved frieze. Underneath the balcony is a C16th octagonal font and a Norman chest made from a solid oak tree. This is now used for contributions to the church.

On the south side of the church is a chapel with the large de la Bere tomb in front of the altar. Surrounded by iron railings, this has effigies of Richard and his wife Margaret, resplendent in C17th dress. Behind them is a massive portico. Black pillars support a round arch decorated with garlands and family shields.

On the floor beside this is the C14th effigy of a woman wearing a wimple, possibly a member of the Huddlestone family who were Lords of the Manor.

On the south wall is the remains of a wall tomb under an arch decorated with ball flowers. This may have been the founder's tomb.

In the south transept is the tomb of an unknown knight, dating from about 1270, set under an ogee arch with ball flower decoration. He is wearing chain armour and has a shield. His legs are crossed at the knees, indicating that he fought in the crusades. On the inside of a blocked window is the remains of a wall painting with red fleur de lys.

The north transept contains the C15th staircase to the bell tower, which is still in use today. The treads are made from oak logs.

On the wall of the north aisle is the remains of a wall painting, all that is left of the paintings that originally covered all of the inside of the church. Only the base remains with paintings of fish, suggesting this may have been part of St Christopher.

The room above the porch is kept locked and you can only go up if a steward is on duty in the church. This was added after the church was built and there is a marvellous view of the Norman corbel table that ran round the outside of the church. It is a rare chance to get a close up view of the carved heads.

The room was used as a school room and the paintings are the work of a C19th schoolmaster who used the walls as a blackboard. There is a skeleton and marvellous lion and tiger. A table lists the Rules of the Academy. On Mondays and Wednesdays the pupils studied writing and arithmetic. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays they studied reading and writing.There is also information about the church and a C19th Christening gown.

The church is only open when there is a steward on duty. Failing that, it is possible to get a key from the Church Office round the back of St Michael's Hall during office hours Monday-Friday 9.30-12.30. There is on road parking outside the church. The nearest post code is GL52 8BA and the grid reference is SO 961277
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Bloxham, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church

One of the great Cotswold wool churches

St Mary’s church is big and with the trees in the graveyard, it is almost impossible to photograph it all. It has the finest spire in Oxfordshire, but you do need binoculars to appreciate all the detail.

The church was built in 12th to 13th centuries with an Early English nave and porch. The tower and spire were added in the C14th and are Decorated Gothic. The Milcombe Chapel, clerestory and priest’s room above the porch were added in the C15th. There was a major restoration in the C19th. The chancel interior, pulpit, choir stalls and marble reredos date from this time.

The tower with its tall pinnacles, gloriously carved balustrade and and tall slender spire dominates the building. The nave and side aisles have a carved balustrade.

Entry is through the south porch with a step down into it. Inside there is a vaulted ceiling and lovely carved Norman doorway with chevrons.

The church is huge inside with round pillars and pointed arches on the north arcade. The south arcade is later and has multiple round pillars with round arches and some carved capitals.

A modern rood screen separates the Milcombe chapel off the south aisle. This has a stone altar and reredos with space for fourteen carved figures. One is missing and several are without heads. On the west wall is a huge memorial to Sir John Thornycroft who died in 1725. He lies in a classical pose, propped up on one elbow contemplating the afterlife. Above him are clouds with three cherub heads and his coat of arms at the top. Around him are other Thornycroft memorials.

On the south wall between the two windows is a very detailed C15th or C16th wall painting. This is variously described as the King and his subjects or else as the journey of a sinner throughout his life. It is a series of small detailed images and does rather resemble a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

There are the scant remains of a wall painting of St Christopher in a red clock above the north door. At the

The north transept contains the War Memorial Chapel. This has fluted columns with lovely carved bases and capitals.

One is described as St George in ‘Coife de Mailles’ as worn in the time of Edward I.

The memorial window above the altar has images of St Denys, Virgin and Child and St Martin at the top. Below are Sir Galahad, St George and Joan of Arc. The reredos has a list of the dead from the Great War.

The C15th rood screen across the chancel arch, was gift from Cardinal Wolsey, replacing one destroyed in the Wars of the Roses. It lost its rood cross during the Reformation.

The carved base panels with double trifoliate arches have the remains of the original paintings of popes and evangelists.

Above is delicate open tracery with a row of small carved flower motifs along the top. The screen was restored in the C19th and upper parts have been repainted in shades of green, red and gold.

Above the chancel arch are the scant remains of a Doom painting. The figures are now just pale outlines. A yellow horned devil can just be made out as well as the bright red flames of Hell fire.

The choir stalls are heavy Victorian work. The organ on the north wall is set back under a pointed archway.

The east window is by Burne Jones depicting saints, angels and King Alfred before the Heavenly City.
The marble reredos has the crucifixion at the centre with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side. This is set in an arcade of blind trifoliate arches. The rest of the east wall is covered with octagons with carved quatrefoil insets and patterned encaustic tiles at the centre. On the south wall is a three seater sedilia and piscina.

Round the tops of the window arches is Norman carving.

The Norman tympanum above the vestry door has most unusual bird feather effect carving.

This is a huge church but I must admit it failed to enthuse me even though Simon Jenkin’s awards it four stars in “England’s Thousand Best Churches”. In 2016, there were plans to remove the nave seating and open up the church nave for use by the village for concerts, farmer’s markets, youth and community groups. This is a village keeping the church at the centre of the community.

The church is open daily and there is on road parking close to it. The nearest post code is OX15 4PY. The grid reference is SP 430357.
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Buckland, Gloucestershire - St Michael’s Church

C15th painted ceiling and panels

Most people head to the tourist honeypot of Broadway and ignore the delightful small village of Buckland a couple of miles away. It is an attractive settlement of large well tended stone houses with attractive gardens, along a stream. It is at the end of an unclassified road and has no shops to attract the tourists. It does, however, have an attractive church.

The church is set above the houses and next to a hotel. It is surrounded by a well tended graveyard with violets and primroses growing in the rougher areas.

Built of honey coloured stone, it has a square battlemented tower at the west end with formidable gargoyles at the corners. The clerestoried nave has lower side aisles and chancel.

The church escaped the worst of the Victorian restorers, apart from the scrapped walls. The C15th roof was rotting so the surface layer with the paintings of roses and devil’s faces was carefully cut away from the old, rotten timbers and bonded onto new roof timbers.

Aisles are separated by arcades with pointed arches.

The pews, panelling around the base of the chancel and the pulpit are C17th. On the north wall are the ‘Shepherds' pews’, simple wooden benches with high panelled backs. Between the windows are hat pegs. These pews were occupied by shepherds and their dogs who entered from the west door, and not through the porch. When the panelling was removed for restoration, the remains of wall paintings were found behind it.

At the back of the west end is a wooden gallery supported on wood pillars. This was erected in the C17th for the use of the Laverton Free School, but now has the organ. On either side on the wall are panels with the Lord’s Prayer, Creed and Ten Commandments.

On the floor of the south aisle are the original C15th encaustic tiles in red and black with burgundy and gold patterns. Some bear the arms of the Earls of Warwick.

The tiles in the rest of the church are C19th and specially made to match the originals.

The Arts and Crafts wooden reredos below the east window is in memory of Lt Charles Brough Scott of Buckland Manor, who was killed in the First World War. It has a carving of St Michael and ‘The Happy Warrior’. The east window contains three panels of painted glass thought to have come from Hailes Abbey. They represent three of the seven sacraments, Baptism, Matrimony and Extreme Unction.

The church contains two treasures worthy of note. At the back are three painted panels which may have come from a reredos, possibly from Hailes Abbey.

The panels show a pair of angels under trefoil arches, on each side of a central moulding. These had been kept in an outhouse in the rectory until the 1920s when they were brought into the church.

On the north wall in a glass case covered by curtains is an embroidered C15th pall. This was used to cover coffins or may have been used as an altar cloth. The central portion is blue velvet with embroidered fruits and foliage.

The red velvet strip at the top or bottom came from portions of earlier religious vestments and is embroidered with religious figures.

Guide books refer to a Maser (ceremonial goblet) on display in the church. This is no longer there. The glass case on the north wall used to display it is empty apart from an information sheet.

The church also used to have a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (first published 1563 and a history of the persecutions inflicted upon Protestants). The original 400 year old copy was stolen from the church and has been replaced by a modern copy.

The church is open during daylight hours and there is a small layby on road outside. The nearest post code is WR12 7LY and the grid reference is SP 082360.
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1000+ Posts
Burford, Oxfordshire - Church of St John the Baptist

A large and splendid wool church

This is one of the big Cotswold Wool Churches. It was probably built on the site of a Saxon church. The present church was built in the late C12th but as the wool trade grew in Burford, so did the church. Extra chantry chapels were added and at its height, Burford had nine separate altars and six incumbent priests. Now it is one of the largest churches in Oxfordshire

The church is at the bottom of the town near the river and the tall slender tower is a local landmark. The church began as a cruciform church with central tower and spire. The Lady Chapel at the south west corner was originally a separate guild chapel but became part of the church during the C15th.

The splendid C15th three storey south porch must be one of the largest in the country. It is decorated with blind arches, statues and crocketted pinnacles. Inside there is a lovely fan vaulted roof.

Inside it is a big church, a very big church. Eyes are immediately drawn to the big painting of the Crucifixion hanging above the transept crossing. The gold background reflects all the light.

Multiple pillars with pointed arches separate nave and side aisles. Above are plain glass clerestory windows. Other windows are stained glass.

At the back of the church is the huge Lady Chapel with monuments of the Sylvester family,
one of the powerful merchant families, on the walls and angels holding shields on the roof corbels. The carved stone reredos has Mary and Jesus in the centre. On the left is St John. On the right is Jesus the Good Shepherd.

At the back of the north aisle is an elaborate carved Norman tub font with a lid raised by pulleys. An inscription carved on the lead inside the font reads “Anthony Sedley 1649 Prisner” Soon after the end of the Civil War a group of Parliamentarians called the Levellers disagreed with Oliver Cromwell. About 340 were captured near Burford and imprisoned in the church. Three of them were sentenced to death by firing squad while the rest watched from the roof.

On the north wall is Huge Edward Harman memorial. He was barber to Henry VIII and a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. It is a splendid tomb with two panels with praying figures on the base. Above is an inscription with a carving of what is thought to be the earliest example in Europe depicting Amazonian Indians. Harman supposedly had trading interests in Brazil. On the portico is his coat of arms.

Against a pillar in the north arcade is a glorious Arts and Crafts altar painted in scarlet and gold.

Just beyond is St Peter’s Chapel, set in a carved wooden screen with a glorious painted roof. This was the pew of the Lords of the Manor from 1580-1875. It was rededicated to St Peter in the 1880s when part of a statue of the saint was found by workmen. At the east end is a small altar with an embroidered frontal. The painted reredos has Christ in the centre with the Crowned Virgin on the left and St Dorothy, patron saint of orchards, on the right. Above is St Peter holding the key of Heaven.

On the outside north wall are two of the old bells. The north transept contains the old clock mechanism dating from 1685.

The transept crossing arches are low Norman rounded arches. The crossing has a double Norman arcade round the top. The lower arcade arches are supported on round pillars with carved capitals. Above the arches have no pillars and chevron carvings. Some have a window.

At a later date, some of the arches were blocked off to give extra strength, as the tower was in danger of collapse.

Beyond the north transept is the north chancel chapel or St Catherine’s Chapel which is separated from the chancel by a carved parclose screen. It contains the magnificent Tanfield tomb, surrounded by metal railings.

Sir Lawrence, Chancellor of the Exchequer to James I who died in 1628, lies in state with his wife. He was reviled locally for his high-handed interference in local affairs, and had a reputation for greed and corrupt practices in office. For two centuries after his death, Burford residents gleefully burned an effigy of Lord Tanfield each year.

His wife commandeered St Catherine’s Chapel for the memorial, after being refused permission for a tomb in Westminster Abbey. Their painted praying figures lie on a massive black marble base with heads resting on tasselled cushions. Underneath is a skeleton - a reminder of mortality. At their head is the figure of their only child, Elizabeth. At their feet feet is the kneeling figure of their grandson Lucius Cary, resplendent in green and gold armour. He was later killed fighting for the Royalist cause in the Civil War. Six Corinthian columns support a splendid portico with carved figures above the columns, tall obelisks at the corners and the Tanfield coat of arms.

A squint gives a view of the high altar, which is almost plain in comparison with the rest of the church.
It has a bright scarlet frontal and scarlet drapes behind. On either side of the stained glass east window are statues of Gabriel on the left and the Virgin Mary on the right, standing on tall pedestals and set under crocketted pinnacles. An old wooden door leads into the vestry. There are aumbry cupboards on the north wall and piscina and sedilia on the south wall.

The south chancel chapel has a C16th inscription under the east window from William Tyndales’ translation of the Bible into English. It is part of St Paul’s letter to the Romans. There are copies of Bibles on display.

The south transept contains a huge table tombstone with carved angels round the base holding shields set under ogee arches. It has lost its brass inset. The south window dates from 1907 and is described as the ‘Whall window’ and depicts the revelation of St John.

Up stairs is the a Becket Chapel, which is used for private prayer. This has the remains of wall paintings on the south and east walls. It is difficult to make out any detail, they just look like areas of red paint.

The church is open daily from 9 until 4 or 5pm. There is some parking by the church although we weren’t sure of the status of this. Failing that, there is a large free car park signed off the main street. The nearest post code is OX18 4SA and the grid reference is SP 253124.
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1000+ Posts
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire - St James Church

A wool church with some splendid memorials

Chipping Campden was the centre of the wool trade in the C15th and was a very wealthy settlement with attractive pale honey stone buildings. The church was built to reflect the wealth and status of the town and its merchants. At the edge of the village, the church is next to the splendid gatehouse built by Sir Baptist Hicks as a suitable entrance to the grand house and gardens he was planning to build. Then came the Civil War and the house was burnt down to prevent it falling into the hands of the Parliamentarians. All that remains are two banqueting houses.

The present church is almost entirely C15th Perpendicular. It is reached along an avenue of pollarded lime trees which were planted in 1770. There are twelve, in honour of the twelve apostles.

The tall square tower is decorated with blind ogee arches and has tall crocketted pinnacles. There are more pinnacles along the top of the nave and side aisles. The nave has lovely clerestory windows.

Entry is through the south porch with old stone slabs on the floor and a notice asking walkers to remove muddy boots before entering the church.

The inside of the church is as impressive as the outside with the clear glass windows of the clerestory windows flood the church with light. Tall octagonal pillars with low arches lead the eyes upwards.

What most visitors come to see are the C15th altar hangings displayed under protective curtains in two glass cases beneath the tower.

They would have hung behind and in front of the altar and were probably given to the church by William Bradway, one of the prominent merchants in the town. They are unique as they are the only complete set of that age in England. They are beautiful with gold embroidery on silk damask.

Also in the tower is the old clock mechanism and part of an alabaster carving of God the Father holding the crucified body of Christ, which was found in a garden in the village.It is missing the head of God and the dove representing the Holy Spirit. It would originally have been brightly painted.

So what else is there to see?

At the back of the church is a large carved font.

There are benefice boards at the back of the church which always make interesting reading. The wooden pulpit is Jacobean and covered with carvings.

It was presented to the church by Sir Baptist Hicks as was the brass lectern.

Above the chancel arch is a ‘Cotswold’ window with the Last Judgement.

The east window dates from 1925 although the top contains some C15th stained glass. It commemorates the dead of World War One. The three seater sedilia is set under a stone lintel with flower motifs. Next to it is a piscina.

The largest brass in Gloucestershire lies in front of altar, but is covered by a carpet. It commemorates William Grevel d 1401 ‘formerly a citizen of London and flower of the wool merchants of all England’, with his wife Marion. He provided funds for rebuilding the church.

In the north west corner of the chancel is the canopied tomb of Sir Thomas Smith, Lord of the Manor of Campden until his death in 1593. He lived at the court of Henry VIII. His first wife Elizabeth Fitzherbert and his second wife Katherine Throckmorton are kneeling below his effigy with their children.

The South Chapel is virtually filled by the massive black and white marble tomb of Sir Baptist Hicks. The effigies of Sir Baptist and his wife are lying on top of a black marble base with marble pillars supporting a canopy with Sir Hicks painted coat of arms.

On the south wall is the memorial to Lady Juliana, daughter of Sir Baptist, with her husband Sir Edward Noel. He died at Oxford in 1643 while fighting for Charles I. They are shown holding hands as they rise from the tomb on the Last Judgement Day. On either side are opening 'doors'with eulogies to them both.

On the east wall is a memorial to their daughter Penelope Noel
who died of blood poisoning after she pricked her finger while embroidering. On the other side of the window is the memorial to her sister in law, Ann.

The church is open 10-5 and there is some parking along the road outside. The nearest post code is GL55 6JG and the grid reference is SP 153393.
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1000+ Posts
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire - St Mary’s Church

A wool church with an unusual hexagonal porch

Chipping Norton is an attractive market town built round the busy market place. In the Middle Ages it was a flourishing wool town and the church reflects this wealth.

The church is on the western edge of the town below the earthworks of a Norman motte and bailey castle. It is a splendid church with square battlemented tower at the west end and very tall nave with huge clerestory windows. The chancel is older and is a long low rather plain building.

The two storey south porch is hexagonal, one of only three in England. Inside there is a lovely vaulted ceiling with carved bosses - look out for the green man, and stone benches along the walls. The porch was often used as a meeting place to discuss community affairs.

Inside it is a big church. Elegant fluted pillars with their pointed arches, extend up to the roof beams, accentuating the effect of height. Clerestory windows are plain glass and flood the church with light.

There is also an extra ‘Cotswold’ window above the chancel arch. The empty niches on either side would have contained statues of the Virgin and St John.

Side aisles are lower and there are two north aisles separated by an arcade of octagonal pillars.

On the north chancel arch is an unusual floor mounted stone pulpit. Behind it are three empty niches with carved canopies. The stairs to the long gone rood loft led up through the pillar.

At the east end of the north aisle nearest the nave is the splendid Croft table tomb dating from 1500.

He is in full armour with his feet resting on a lion and his head on a helmet. She has flowing robes and a pillow under her head. There are crocketted pinnacles round the base. There are two angels holding a shield and praying figures.

The north aisle has a simple altar and is used for midweek services. Above is a rather nice window dating from 1945. At the top is Christ in Majesty with angels. Below is Christ risen from the dead with the women.

At the back of the north aisles is the huge Dawkins family memorial above the Dawkins mausoleum. The first name is 1796 and the last was added in 1914. There are still unfilled spaces. On the walls are smaller memorials to other members of the family.

The church is open daily. We parked in the Market Place and walked to the church. The nearest post code is OX7 5NT and the grid reference is SP 312273.
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1000+ Posts
Cirencester, Gloucestershire - Church of St john the Baptisty

The ‘Cathedral’ of the Cotswolds

This is the largest church in Gloucestershire and was built, using money from wool, in the C15/16th on the site of an earlier church. The church was the joint work of the town and nearby St Mary’s Abbey. There were ten wealthy wool merchants in mid C14th Cirencester and the abbey had extensive flocks of sheep. The coats of arms in the nave are mainly those of nobles and of the abbey.

It is a big church and it is almost impossible to photograph, let alone take in its size as it is screened by surrounding buildings.

It is a marvellous example of perpendicular architecture with large windows and crocketted pinnacles. The tall square west tower with its blind arcade of arches, dominates the Market Place. The Guilds paid for a spire, but this was never built as the walls of the tower were thought to be too weak.

The huge three storey south porch was built by the Abbey in 1490, who used the ground floor. The guilds used the first and second floors. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Reformation, the porch served as the town hall. It was originally separate from the church and only joined to it by a corridor with fan vaulted ceiling in the C18th. It has been recently cleaned and the stonework gleams golden against the rest of the building. Today it is used for choir practice, music groups and children's activities.

Steps lead down into the church. This is massive in size and the tall slender pillars with pointed arches separating nave and side aisles accentuate the height.

At the tops of the pillars are painted carved angels holding shields.

There are more angels on the roof beams.

By the south door is the C14th octagonal font with damaged carvings around the bowl, probably done during the Reformation when it was removed from the church. It was discovered in the abbey grounds in the C19th and returned to the church.

At the back of the south aisle near the font, is the Mannox tomb, a splendid structure with black marble pillars supporting a portico with coat of arms, helm and reclining figures. Below are the kneeling figures of George d1638 and his wife holding hands. Below are the kneeling figures of their two daughters.

The wine glass pulpit dates from 1440 and probably survived the Reformation as it has no religious imagery. It is beautiful open carved stonework, still brightly painted.

Above the pointed chancel arch is a Cotswold Window with stained glass. Below is a rood screen with open carved base panels and a canopy across the top. Above, hanging from the chancel arch is a cross.

The chancel was begun in the C12th and is the oldest part of the church. The wood roof above the sanctuary is painted. Behind the altar is a splendid reredos with Christ Crucified in the centre surrounded by angels. There is a glorious stained glass east window.

On either side of the chancel and off the side aisles are chantry chapels.

At the end of the south aisle is the Garstang Chapel, a small chapel surrounded by a C15th wooden parclose screen. This has a small altar. In a wall niche with two painted shields at the top is a carved wooden box with more shields on the front. This was the C16th marriage chest of the George family.

Beyond it was the Chapel of St John the Baptist, but this now contains the organ.

Behind glass in small recess at the end of south aisle is the silver gilt Anne Boleyn Cup. This was made for Anne and given to her daughter Elizabeth. After she became queen, she have it to her physician, Richard Master. He presented it to the church in 1561. Below it is a C15th strong chest.

On the north side of the chancel are two chantry chapels, St Nicholas and St Catherine, which have the remains of wall paintings.

Beyond it is the Lady Chapel with the splendid early C17th tomb of wealthy lawyer Humphrey Bridges and his wife, set under a massive arch with their recumbent bodies with heads resting on red tasseled pillows. There are large kneeling figures of their two sons at their head and feet and nine smaller daughters along the base. On the opposite wall is the tomb of Thomas Masters, a late C17th gentleman elegantly propped up on one arm.

On the wall between the two chapels is the Royal Coat of Arms.

The Trinity Chapel off the north aisle has and elegant base screen of open carved stone. The stone reredos has a carving of Christ in Majesty in the centre. This was founded by Richard Dixton and William Prelatte, both knights under Richard, Duke of York. A priest from the neighbouring abbey said masses for the souls of the kings and queens of England.

The church is open daily. There is no parking by the church, although there are plenty of car parks around the centre of the town. The nearest post code is GL7 2NX and the grid reference is SP 023021


1000+ Posts
Daglingworth, Gloucestershire - Holy Rood Church

Some exceptional Saxon carvings

Daglingworth is a pretty Cotswold village with stone houses along a small stream. The church is set above the village next to a very large rectory. From the outside there is little to attract the attention.

Set in a churchyard, it has a solid square tower at the west end with a simple nave with south porch and chancel.

The first indication the church may be rather special is the simple Saxon arch on the porch and another Saxon arch with its carved capitals leading into the church. Above it is a small Saxon sundial. The beautifully carved door is C15th.

Steps lead down into the church.

The inside is simple but very pleasing with whitewashed walls, wood beam ceiling and simple wood pews. It is a loved and well cared for church with a lot of flower arrangements.

An arcade of round Norman pillars with carved capitals and round arches separates nave and north aisle.

This was added in the C19th, when the chancel was rebuilt. Fortunately the Victorian builders kept the simple Saxon/Norman lines. It is full of light from the plain glass windows, making the church feel bigger than it looks from the outside.

The octagonal font is C15th and has quatrefoils round the bowl and trefoil arches on the base. Under the bowl are flower motifs, including a green man.

The Norman chancel arch was rebuilt in the C19th. Above it are the organ pipes. Behind the plain altar rail is a table altar with a painted reredos with Agnus Dei in the centre and four red shields with the symbols of the four evangelists. This is set in a black border with blue flowers with gold stems, green leaves and bunches of grapes along the bottom.

On the north wall of the chancel is a stone table, a credence table, made from an early stone altar or mensa.

What really makes the church special are the four C10th Saxon carvings which were rediscovered embedded in the chancel arch when it was rebuilt in 1850. This protected the carvings which are in remarkably good condition. They look surprisingly modern with their bold simple outlines.

To the west of the door is a Crucifixion with the bearded figure of Christ with a halo dwarfing the figures of Roman soldiers on either side. One holds a spear, the second a sponge on a reed and a jug of vinegar.

On the wall of the north aisle is Christ in Majesty. A bearded and moustached Christ is sitting on a bench with a cross in one hand and giving the blessing with the other.

Close by is St Peter holding a book and a huge key.

Above the pulpit is a smaller and more eroded Saxon carving. This was originally on the outside of the east gable end before being brought into the church to prevent further erosion. This shows the crucified Christ on the cross.

The church is open daylight hours and is signed off the main street. There is a small parking area opposite. The nearest post code is GL7 7AQ and the grid reference is SO 994050.


1000+ Posts
Deerhurst, Gloucestershire - St Mary’s Priory Church

One of the best Saxon churches in England

This timeless old church, surrounded by a few attractive stone houses, is set in the depths of the Gloucestershire countryside by the banks of the River Severn. The first sight of the tower appearing above the tree tops is typically English. Visit and you realise it is one of the best Anglo-Saxon churches in the country.

It has a long and illustrious history. There has been a church here since at least 800AD and possibly as early as 600AD. It became an important monastic settlement and the Anglo-Saxon kings Æthelric and Æthelmund were probably buried here.

In the second half of the C10th St Alphege began his ecclesiastical career here. He became Archbishop of Canterbury and was martyred by Danes in 1012. In 1016, King Cnut of Denmark and King Edmund Ironside met at Deerhurst, made peace and divided England between them. In the C11th Earl Odda, one of the most powerful of Edward the Confessor’s noblemen, lived here. From then on, there is a remarkable lack of information about the later history of the church.

Much of the building dates from the first half of the C9th. The tower and porch were rebuilt in the C10th. It is regarded as one of the finest and best buildings to have survived from before the Norman Conquest. Side aisles were added in the C12th. The belfry was added in the C14th. The apse
was demolished in 1540 when the flat east end was added. The large square windows are later. The roof has been heightened at some stage and clerestory windows added. The church was restored in the 19th and 20th centuries when the pews and pulpit were added. Plaster was stripped off the walls to reveal the stonework.

It is worth walking round the outside of the church first. The nave is tall and very narrow, typical of Saxon naves. Remains of Saxon herringbone work can be seen in the walls. At the east end are the remains of the foundations of the Saxon apse. Signs point up to the Deerhurst angel, a C9th Saxon carving high on the east wall of the church.

The C14th farmhouse attached to the church was originally part of the monastic buildings, possibly the monk’s dormitory.

Entry is through the west door with a grotesque head carved above the arch. Next to it on the south aisle is a small wooden C19th door, /which looks as if it should be a lot older and gives access to the tower.

The heavy wooden door into the church has decorative wrought iron hinges.The inner door into the church is in memory of two men from the village who died in Flanders in WW1. Above is a remarkably modern looking carving of the Madonna and Child which is in fact C7th, with simple flowing lines. Originally it would have been painted.

On the inside of the door are two rather nice carved animal heads. These are C9th and would originally have been outside the church. They were placed here in 1860 to protect them from the effects of the weather.

High on the west wall is a blocked doorway which would have led into the gallery.

Above are two small pointed Saxon windows with pillars on either side. They have been described as the "finest, most elaborate opening in any Saxon Church”. It is assumed they let light into an upper room in the tower.

A Saxon arch leads into the nave.

The nave is tall and narrow and flooded with light from the plain glass windows in side aisles and clerestory. Low cylindrical pillars with a narrow band of carving support pointed arches separating nave and side aisles. The wood beam roof was restored in the C19th and is supported on stone carved corbels. Pews are C19th and have carved side panels and fronts. The massive wooden pulpit
has carved panels with birds and plants including reed mace (bullrush to the Victorians) olives, briars, wheat, lilies, figs...

At the east end is a blind, round Saxon arch which would have led into the now demolished apse.

Inside it is a painted panel with the Ten Commandments. Above the arch is a simple wooden cross and a square window with stained glass. The choir stalls go round the back of the altar - a left over from the Puritans in the Commonwealth, when the altar was brought forward into the church. The table altar is Jacobean with a carved top and bulbous legs.

The north aisle has a small chapel at the east end.

There are aumbry cupboards in the walls and a small altar rail. Against the wall is an old tomb chest with a foliate cross on the top. There are old tomb slabs on the floor as well as the Cassey brass. Sir John was Baron of the Exchequer and died in 1400. Beside him is his wife, Dame Alice, with her pet dog Terri at her feet. This is the only known example of a named animal on a medieval brass.

At the back of the north aisle is a most unusual Saxon font with base and bowl covered with spiral carvings. This was rescued from a farmyard in the C19th and brought here.

Above is a C19th stained glass window with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. Round the walls are benches with carved panel backs.

The west window in the south aisle contains C13th stained glass.

On the left is St Katherine holding the wheel that broke her, set under a small ogee arch. On her right, is St Alphege with a halo and giving a blessing. Above and below each are small panels with praying figures. At the centre top is a coat of arms of the de Clares.

The church is open every day. There is some on road parking by the lych gate. Alternatively, continue to the end of the road where there is a small privately owned parking area, near the tiny Odda’s Chapel. The nearest post code is GL19 4BX and the grid reference is SO 870299


1000+ Posts
Deerhurst, Gloucestershire - Odda’s Chapel

A forgotten Saxon Church

This has been described as one of the most complete surviving Saxon churches in England. Everyone who visits Deerhurst heads for St Mary’s Priory Church. Few give Odda’s Chapel a second look.

Odda's Chapel is a lovely setting at the end of the road surrounded by fields and trees. It is a small stone building with stone slab roof supported on huge stone corbels. Behind is a later timber frame farmhouse.

The church was founded in 1056 by Earl Odda in memory of his brother Ælfric. It was in use until C13th when it was left derelict and incorporated into the medieval timber frame farmhouse. The nave was used as a kitchen with a fireplace inserted in the west wall and a window. The chancel had a bedroom added above. The church was only ‘discovered’ in 1865 and is now in the care of English Heritage.

It is a typical Saxon building, tall and narrow.

Entry is through a simple Saxon door into what was the nave. This is empty apart from a few old benches. A round Saxon arch leads into the chancel with the remains of the later floor above.

On the east wall is a translation of the inscription on the foundation stone, which is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. “Earl Odda ordered this Royal chapel to be built and dedicated in honour of the Holy Trinity for the good of the soul of his brother Aelfric who died in this place. Bishop Ealdred dedicated it on April 12 in the 14th year of the reign of Edward, King of the English”.

The church is open 10-6 in the summer and there is parking opposite. This is a private park and there is an honesty box with a charge of 50p for up to two hours when we visited in 2014. The River Severn is just across the fields with the Severn Way footpath.

The nearest post code is GL19 4BX and the grid reference is S0 869299.


1000+ Posts
Down Ampney, Gloucestershire - All Saints’ Church

Knights Templar and Vaughan Williams connection

All Saints’ Church is on the tourist map as Vaughan Williams was the son of the vicar and was born in the old vicarage in 1872. There is an exhibition about him under the tower. Many people just call in to see this and ignore the rest of the church. This is a shame as it is quite an interesting church, meriting a visit in its own right.

The church was built by the Knights Templar in 1265 and is a fine example of Early English architecture. It is a cruciform church with a solid square battlemented tower at the west end, topped by a tall spire. Entry is through the south porch which has a square doorway with blank shields above. Empty niches would have contained statues.

Inside the side aisles are very narrow. The north arcade has round Norman pillars with carved capitals. One has horse shoes.

The pointed arches have small red flowers painted under them, a reminder of the symptoms of the Black Death. The south arcade has a mixture of pillar styles. One has a red painted cross.

Walls are whitewashed and the wooden beam ceiling is supported on stone corbels with painted shields. Across the chancel is a beautiful C19th rood screen with panelled base with delicate tracery above. A fan vaulted ceiling supports the rood loft with crucifix with the figures of the Virgin and St John on either side.

The pulpit is also C19th and has similar carving to the panels of the rood screen. Above is a sounding board with an open fretwork fringe.

The Hungerford Chapel in the north transept is enclosed by a beautifully carved parclose screen with a painted coat of arms on the base.

There is Jacobean panelling round the base of the walls with carved arches. On the east wall is the splendid memorial to Sir James Hungerford and his son Anthony. They are facing each other across prayer desk. Dark pillars support a half portico with carved figures and a coat of arms.

The Lady Chapel at the end of the south aisle is enclosed by a parclose screen and contains the tombs of Nicholas de Valers, a Knight Templar who assisted in the building of the church and his wife Margaret Bassett. She looked after the villagers while he was away on crusade. His is dark stone and he is lying in full armour with a shield and crossed legs. Hers is a paler stone and set under an ogee arch.

Above the altar is a painting of the Virgin and Child and there is a squint to the high altar.

The church is set well away from the present village, which moved north of the church after the Black Death. Next to the church is the splendid Down Ampney House.

The church is open daily and there is plenty of parking by the lych gate. The nearest post code is GL7 5BD and the grid reference is SU 098965.


1000+ Posts
Duntisbourne Abbots, Gloucestershire - St Peter’s Church

A Norman church heavily restored by the Victorians

Duntisbourne Abbots is an attractive small village of stone houses beside the River Dunt. The land originally belonged to the Abbots of Gloucester. The church is set on a rise above the village and is surrounded by a big graveyard. Neatly trimmed yews line the path from the lych gate.

The church was built on the site of a wooden Saxon church. The base of the solid square tower is early Norman and the oldest part of the church. The top of the tower with its saddleback roof was added later.

The nave and north aisle is early C12th.

There was a major restoration at the end of the C19th when the low chancel arch was replaced, gallery removed, plaster stripped from the walls, south aisle and organ chamber added and the south porch rebuilt. The pews and stained glass date from then. The chancel was replastered in 1960.

An old nail studded wood door leads into the church.

The church is unusual as the chancel arch has three arches, part of the Victorian restoration. It looks and feel wrong.

The large central arch is supported by pillars with heavily carved capitals. On either side are smaller arches with trifoliate tops.

The stone pulpit is part of the Victorian restoration. The chancel is bare apart from small altar with altar rail and chairs for the priest.

Massive round pillars with carved capitals and transitional pointed arches separate nave and north aisle. This theme was copied when the south aisle was added in 1872.

At the back of the church is an early Norman font with trilobed ornamentation.

The church is open daily. Roads around the church are narrow. We parked on the grass triangle by the road junction. The nearest post code is GL7 7JN iand the grid reference is grid reference is SO 971079.


1000+ Posts
Duntisbourne Rous, Gloucestershire - St Michael’s Church

A crypt and wall paintings

This is a tiny church built on a terrace overlooking the River Dunt in the Cotswolds. Off the road and screened by trees, it is a lovely setting.

The nave is C11th Saxon and there is a lot of herringbone masonry in the walls.

The South door has a typical Saxon triangular top. The church is built on a slope, and the chancel was added in the C12th above the crypt. A tiny tower was added in the C15th with the saddleback top being C16th. The porch was added in the C18th and has a sundial above the door.

Entry to the crypt is through a door on the south wall. Steep steps lead down into a small barrel vault with the only light coming from a tiny Norman window at the east end set under a plain round arch.

There is the remains of a painted figure on either side of the window.

There is a small piscina and aumbry cupboard. The original, now blocked stairs leading into the church can be seen at the back of the crypt.

Inside, it is an attractive church with white washed walls and wood beam ceiling. The panelling round the base of the walls of the nave was found in a timber yard and was fitted in the church in the 1930s.

The C13th font is at the back of the church and a small door leads into the tower. The pews are C18th and the beautifully carved pulpit is Jacobean.

The only memorial in the church is in the nave, to Nathanial Haines d1784 and his wife Ann d1874 and their three daughters, Susana, Mary and Jane.

A simple round Norman arch leads into the chancel. This has small Norman windows which makes it feel dark compared with the rest of the church. The stained glass is modern with the Crucifixion in the east window with the Virgin Mary and St John. The south window is St Michael. The old choir stalls on the south wall have misericords. The priest’s chair is on the north wall.

The north wall of the chancel is covered with C13th wall paintings. The blocks outlined in red contain small deep purple flowers. Beneath is a border with scrolls and below that are arches with small figures painted in the corners.

The church is open daylight hours. It is set back off the road, down a grassed track between hedges
and is easy to miss. It is just south of Middle Duntiscombe and there is a tiny wooden sign on the road “To the Church”, by the first house on the left. There is a small parking area on the side of the road by the gate.

The nearest post code is GL7 7AP and the grid reference is SO 985060.


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