St Mary the Virgin Parish Church sits where a medieval church once stood before it was demolished in 1777, excepting the tower and spire. In 1781 the current church was completed and opened for worship. It was designed by Francis Hiorn of Warwick and is in the Georgian gothic style.
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Soon after the rebuilding of the church the gallery was enlarged to run along the south and north walls. In the west gallery is an organ by Binns of Leeds. The nave columns are made of wood and support the plaster ceiling. The brass chandeliers are original, and candles can be used with them. There are several burial vaults in the church. Effigies are found in the ambulatories.
In 1891 the tower was rebuilt due to slippage from the perpendicular. Original material was used as much as possible. The tower is the 4th highest in England. Further restoration has taken place over the years, mostly in 1901 and again in 1993. 1993 saw the undoing of the Victorian restoration and return to as much of the original Georgian design as possible.
However, the stained glass windows added by the Victorians are still in place. Surviving the restoration are the box pews with their gothic fronts. Footings of the medieval church are located in front of the pews in the south-east corner, as is a 13th century monument. In 1953 the sanctuary was lowered and a reredos was erected to cover the lower section of the window.
The church has a number of memorials. One of these is to the Paul family who built Highgrove, home of the Prince of Wales. There is a ring of eight bells, dating from 1722. They were cast by Rudhall of Gloucester. A carillon plays at regular times during the day.
St Mary the Virgin Church
On the A433, south-west of Cirencester
Shop; heritage center
Note: Tetbury is a charming town with many amenities for visitors.
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard