Building materials
The church is constructed of limestone with a stone slate-covered roof.
Plan form and principal construction phases
The Church of St Mary consists of an aisled nave, with north and south transepts
and a central tower and crossing. North vestry and gabled south porch. While the
nave has three bays externally, there are five arcade bays internally.
Decorated-style tracery was used by Middleton in his restoration work of the late
C19, but the chancel is mostly in Perpendicular style.

  • Phase 1 – 1190 – church dedicated by William, Bishop of Hereford as a chapel of ease to the parish church of St Mary. No standing remains of this church apparently survive, although there may be C12 fabric in the foundations.
  • Phase 2 – Late C13 – South transept converted into a chantry chapel and a priest’s chamber created above it.
  • Phase 3 – C14 – tower and South aisle built.
  • Phase 4 – Early C15 – tower and South aisle remodelled.
  • Phase 5 – c.1700 – South porch built.
  • Phase 6 – c.1800 – South gallery constructed.
  • Phase 7 – 1822-4 – North aisle and vestry added.
  • Phase 8 – 1877-8 – chancel re-built and nave extended.
  • Phase 9 – 1898-9 – clergy vestry enlarged and new choir vestry built.
  • Phase 10 – 1911 – South transept adapted to become a chapel.
  • Phase 11 – Early C20 – choir vestry enlarged ( 1917); South transept refurnished and given new roof (1938).
  • Phase 12 – 1988 – Vestries enlarged.

Principal Fittings and Furnishings

1. Octagonal tub font with curvilinear traceried decoration, having two lights with quatrefoils and trefoils above enclosed ogee mouldings and sitting on a base formed from eight scallops. The moulded circular plinth rests on a modern octagonal step. The bowl probably dates from the C12, re-cut in the C14.

2. C14 ogee-headed piscina, rediscovered in the church by Middleton, who built it into the sedilia below the chancel’s southwest window.

3. An ancient alms chest (possibly a C12 survival) at the east end of the north transept.

4. The Royal Arms on the north wall of the north aisle (1660, restored 1744).

5. Carved stone arms above the chancel arch, c.1826.

6. The pews, pulpit and ornate brass lectern were all added by John Middleton as part of his extensive alterations to the church in 1877-8, the pulpit being given by the Misses Curry and the lectern donated by Mrs Daubeny.

7. Reredos of marble and alabaster by local sculptor, W.H. Fry (1901).

8. Oak screens between aisles and transepts, also by W.H. Fry (1092-3).

9. Oak choir stalls, donated to the church in 1901.

10. Numerous wall memorials, mostly late C18 and early C19.

11. Rose window at west end inserted in 1822-24 by John Humphris, a copy of the rose window at St Mary’s Cheltenham. It was reset by Middleton when he extended the west end of the nave in the late C19 and the present stained glass is probably by Wailes, c.1878.

12. Wrought-iron chancel gates were designed by Lady Dixon-Hartland (1908-9), who also gave the life-sized marble Angel of the Resurrection by G.E. Wade (in the chancel).

13. Rood beam and oak screen between the tower and south transept, by J. Coates Carter (1924).

14. Reredos in the south transept, by A.G.W. Hailing (1938).

15. Stained glass: aisle west windows, by Clayton & Bell; three windows in the north aisle (described as ‘striking’ in the list description and ‘awful’ by Verey and Brooks (2002:216)), by T.F. Curtis, Ward & Hughes (1896-1914); south aisle south windows include east window by Clayton & Bell and west by Lavers & Westlake (all 1896); vivid south window in the south transept, probably by J. Eadie Reid (1904); east window in north vestry by William Morns & Co. (Westminster) Ltd., (1917); aisle west windows of 1880, east of 1883, and chancel north, 1894 by Hardman; chancel south-east by Joseph Bell & Son (1881) and south-west by James Powell & Sons (1908).

According to Verey and Brooks (2002:216), the north aisle was designed by John Humphris in 1822. Humphris was a local architect who became Borough Surveyor in 1862. His best work is the Cheltenham General Hospital (1847-9). A plan and section drawing of 1822 (available on Church Plans Online) attributes the gallery in the north aisle to Paul Rowland, the surveyor (d.1850).

The church was extensively remodelled in 1877-8 by John Middleton (1820-1885) who was a pupil of James Pritchett (he later married his daughter) in York and later set up his own practice in Darlington in the 1840s (other pupils of Pritchett were Samuel Whitfield Daukes and James Medland). Middleton later ‘retired’ to Cheltenham, where he designed five Anglican Churches for the town’s growing population, the splendid All Saints, Pittville, being his best. Middleton worked throughout Gloucestershire, in neighbouring counties and in Mid Wales, where he designed a wide variety of buildings from hospitals and schools to mansions and private residences. As well as designing new buildings Middleton was also responsible for the restoration of many churches.

The north vestry was enlarged by Herbert T. Rainger (1884-1958) in 1917. Rainger also designed Emmanuel Church in Cheltenham (1936-7) and, in partnership with Rogers, completed drawings for the Greenwood Theatre at Dean Close School in Cheltenham in the early C20, intended for the open-air performance of Shakespeare’s plays.