Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury :: Shared Description

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.
by Alan Murray-Rust

31 images use this description. Preview sample shown below:

ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : St Marys' Church, Tetbury by Robin Drayton
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8893 : Brewery Lane, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8993 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust
ST8992 : Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tetbury by Alan Murray-Rust

... and 6 more images.
These Shared Descriptions are common to multiple images. For example, you can create a generic description for an object shown in a photo, and reuse the description on all photos of the object. All descriptions are public and shared between contributors, i.e. you can reuse a description created by others, just as they can use yours.
Created: Tue, 4 Jul 2017, Updated: Tue, 4 Jul 2017

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2017 Alan Murray-Rust, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

You are not logged in login | register