ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury

taken 2 years ago, near to Tetbury, Gloucestershire, Great Britain

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury
Carved shield in the north ambulatory with arms of the Gastrell family and dated 1586, thought to be contemporary with the two effigies LinkExternal link LinkExternal link.
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury
A remarkable church which springs a surprise on those who do not know of it. At first glance it gives the impression of a medieval Gothic church, but with a difference. Sometimes described as Gothic Revival, it is not truly that either, being a distinctive form of Gothic within the form of a typical 18th Century church.

It was opened in 1781, designed by Francis Hiorn of Warwick as a replacement for the dilapidated medieval church demolished, all but the tower and spire, in 1777. The tower and spire were demolished in 1891 when subsidence was detected and rebuilt as an exact copy, using much original material.

It takes the form of the standard rectangular box of the period, of 7 equal bays, roofed with a single hipped roof, and having a short narrow extension at the east end housing the sanctuary. Inside the box there is a remarkable vaulted ceiling in Gothic style supported on two rows of clustered columns creating aisle-like divisions which are not truly aisles. The vault and columns are entirely of timber (pine) and are completely independent of the roof structure. The overall impression, with its large windows, is light and airy, although the lightness is somewhat muted by Victorian stained glass in some of the windows.

The tracery of the windows is derived from Perpendicular and intersecting forms but is distinctly of its own period.

The seating plan of the church is most unusual. The nave is provided with box pews, typical of the period, but only a portion of these are accessible from the central walkway along the nave. Along both north and south sides of the nave are low lean-to ambulatories which provide the only access via a series of doorways to the box pews nearer the outside wall of the nave.

Typical of the Georgian layout is also the gallery which extends across the west end of the nave and then along both sides for about two thirds of the length of the nave.

The organ, by Binns of Leeds is sited on the gallery. This is its original position to which it was returned in 1993.

The internal arrangements were substantially changed in 1901 when it was 'Victorianised' with the creation of a false chancel and choir in the eastern portion of the nave, the organ being moved to the south east corner of the nave. A screen was inserted across the full width of the church. The original Georgian preaching pulpit was removed at this time.

The work in 1993 was aimed as far as possible at restoring the church to its Georgian condition. The sanctuary reverted to the area within the eastern extension, using some of the original communion rail, and the area in front now provides a flexible space for seating or for events, particularly concerts. A new pulpit/lectern in modern style, of iron plates, was commissioned at this time.

Other significant internal fittings are:
- the marble font, located under the western gallery. This probably dates from the building of the church. It is fitted with a stainless steel bowl which can be detached for baptisms to be held in the main body of the church.
- a fine pair of chandeliers each with 32 branches also dating from the time of building. These have never been electrified and are still lit for special occasions.
- a Royal coat of arms on the west gallery, initialled GIIIR and dated 1818.
- a 17th century copy of a painting by Raphael of the Holy Family, at one time part of the reredos but now hung on the east wall of the south 'aisle'.

There are a number of late 18th century marble wall monuments, of which several are clustered on the east wall of the north 'aisle' There are others within the sanctuary, on the west wall at gallery level and in the entry hall under the tower.

A number of older monuments from the old church have been gathered in the ambulatories, particularly on the north side.

The church is Listed Grade I.

The churchyard contains over 50 grave monuments of Listed status, mainly Grade II, but including three categorised as Grade II*. They are mainly of the chest tomb or pedestal tomb types, very typical of the Cotswolds.
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ST8992, 202 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 27 June, 2017   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 4 July, 2017
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Religious sites  City, Town centre 
Period (from Tags)
Late 16th Century 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 8905 9296 [10m precision]
WGS84: 51:38.1203N 2:9.5768W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 8905 9296
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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Other Tags
Stone Carvings  Coat of Arms 

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Image Type (about): inside  close look 
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