Holy Innocents, Highnam
Gloucestershire’s churches span the centuries with every style of architecture, decoration and Christian worship represented. Here are some particularly impressive examples.
The county’s largest parish church sits in the heart of the town’s Market Place. Its recently conserved three-storey south porch was described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as “the most splendid of all English parish church porches”. Inside, highlights include the richly carved screens, rare pre-Reformation wineglass pulpit and many historic monuments.
Postcode: GL7 2AG
St Mary’s church is one of the finest and most complete buildings in England to survive from before the Norman Conquest. Parts of the church date as far back as the 700s. Highlights include the spiral carved Saxon font, wall-mounted carved beasts’ heads and curious windows high up on the West wall.
Postcode: GL19 4BX
One of the finest and latest of the Cotswold ‘wool’ churches, dating from c.1480 to 1500, with very fine examples of stonework and wood carving. Most famous are the windows – this is the only complete set of mediaeval glass of its kind in the country. The depictions of Biblical scenes include a particularly harrowing vision of hell.
Postcode: GL7 4AF
Finished in 1851, the church was founded by Thomas Gambier Parry in memory of his wife and the children they lost in infancy. Henry Woodyer was the architect, while the beautiful and brilliantly coloured frescoes around the walls are Parry’s own work. Other notable decorative features include woodcarvings, metalwork, colourful windows and Minton floor tiles.
Postcode: GL2 8DF
Possibly the finest of the 15th century Cotswold ‘wool’ churches, Northleach reflects the wealth of the wool merchants, who funded the work and who are depicted on brasses. The clerestory window fills the nave with light while the impressive two-storey porch (with the original priest’s accommodation upstairs) retains many of its original statues.
Postcode: GL54 3EE
This fine example of a Georgian Gothic church opened in 1781, retaining the mediaeval tower and spire of the previous building. These were rebuilt in 1891, and at 186ft make an impressive local landmark. Inside, the nave is supported by incredibly slender oak columns encased in plaster. In 1993 work took place to undo much of the extensive Victorian remodelling.
Postcode: GL8 8JG
Dating back to the 1100s, the Abbey has what Pevsner described as ‘probably the largest and finest Romanesque tower in England’. Inside, the magnificent nave is topped by 14th century vaulting. Intimate chantry chapels, an ancient organ, elaborate tombs and superb stained glass windows make the Abbey a treasury of history and architecture.
Postcode: GL20 5RZ
The New Room, as John Wesley called it, is the world’s oldest Methodist chapel. It was built in 1739, following months of Wesley’s open-air preaching around Bristol. It was extended to its current form in 1748, and was used as a schoolroom and dispensary for the poor. Above the chapel are rooms in which Wesley and other visiting preachers would stay.
Postcode: BS1 3JE
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