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Church of St Swithun

A Grade II* Listed Building in Gloucester, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.8516 / 51°51'5"N

Longitude: -2.272 / 2°16'19"W

OS Eastings: 381364

OS Northings: 217034

OS Grid: SO813170

Mapcode National: GBR 0JT.VVC

Mapcode Global: VH94B.KQRF

Plus Code: 9C3VVP2H+J6

Entry Name: Church of St Swithun

Listing Date: 10 January 1955

Last Amended: 2 June 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1271743

English Heritage Legacy ID: 472459

Location: Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL2

County: Gloucestershire

District: Gloucester

Electoral Ward/Division: Westgate

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Gloucester

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Hempsted with Gloucester, Saint Mary de Lode and Saint Mary de Crypt

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Parish church, C14, partly rebuilt 1467-77 for Henry Dene, Prior of Llanthony Priory. Restored and refitted 1837-9 by G V Maddox. Further restoration, including the removal of most of Maddox's work, in 1885-6 by F S Waller.


Parish church, C14, partly rebuilt 1467-77 for Henry Dene, Prior of Llanthony Priory. Restored and refitted 1837-9 by G V Maddox. Further restoration, including the removal of most of Maddox's work, in 1885-6 by F S Waller.

MATERIALS: constructed mostly of ashlar under slate roofs with coped gables.

PLAN: originally a three-bay nave which was remodelled and reroofed in 1467-77 and extended to the west in 1885; C14 south porch and doorway; C14 central tower; C14 two-bay chancel with upper stage rebuilt or added 1467-77; and a late-C19 north vestry linked to the east end of the nave by a short cloister or passage.

EXTERIOR: the south elevation of the nave has restored three-light windows with Perpendicular tracery, and a gabled south porch with angle buttresses. The south chancel wall is of two bays, each divided with offset buttresses, within each bay is a restored two-light C14 window with a quatrefoil light in curvilinear tracery head. To the west of the central buttress is a priest's doorway with Tudor-arched head. There are diagonal corner buttresses with offsets at the east end of the chancel and a C19 three-light window with Perpendicular tracery and hoodmould. The north elevation has two two-light windows to the chancel. The nave has three-light windows with leaded lights with Perpendicular tracery. The passage to the vestry has a three-light window and doorway in its north wall, while the vestry has a two-light window to its gabled north elevation and in the west side. The west end of the nave has a further three-light window with Perpendicular tracery. The central tower has three stages, the lower stage inset within the west end of the chancel. Above the chancel roof there are clasping corner buttresses to the middle and upper stages of the tower with moulded offsets on the upper stage. Between the second stage and the upper, belfry stage is a moulded string course, while above the upper stage is a crenellated parapet enriched with panels of blind, trefoil-headed arcading on a moulded string course from which two gargoyles project on each side. There was formerly a pinnacle at each corner of the tower. To each face of the upper stage is a two-light belfry window with Perpendicular tracery and hoodmould.

INTERIOR: the walls are limewashed and the nave floor is paved with flagstones. There is a four-centred arched doorway, now blocked, in north wall of the nave and the vestry is accessed from a door to the right of the tower stairs. The roof to the nave has shallow-pitched trusses with embattled tie-beams and infills of arcading with tracery above the beams supported on curved braces with pierced foils in the spandrels, the braces are set on carved stone corbels. One of the corbels is sculpted with a mitred head, reputed to represent Prior Henry Dene. Between the trusses are ribbed ceilings with carved bosses. The tower, situated above the choir, has double-chamfered arches, and the bulging form of the east arch responds, characteristic of work associated with Llanthony Priory, project over the supporting piers as the arch is narrower than the chancel. The west end of the chancel occupies the lower stage of the inset central tower with the responds of the chancel arch projecting onto the western piers supporting the tower. The floor is laid with late-C19 encaustic tiles and above the east bay of the chancel is a C19 open timber roof.

FITTINGS: include a late-C12/early-C13 font in Transitional style with a round bowl on a pedestal cut with an arcade of six shafts with capitals on a circular chamfered plinth. The pews, stall and pulpit are late C19. STAINED GLASS: includes the aisle window on the north side of the tower, by Hardman, 1878, which contains a medieval fragment of a small mitred head said to be Prior Henry Dene; north and south chancel windows of 1874-7 by Heaton, Butler & Bayne; and east window of 1885, probably by Clayton & Ball. MONUMENTS: a brass to the children of Arthur Porter, d.1548; on the north side of the chancel; the tomb of Judge Richard Atkins of Tuffley, d.1610, of marble with painted recumbent effigy in judge's robes; marble Baroque monument to Sir Thomas Lysons, d.1713; tablets to Daniel Lysons, d.1789, by T King of Bath, and to Sarah Lysons, d.1808; tablet to Samuel Lysons, the antiquarian, d.1819, in neo-Greek style; and other early-C19 tablets; also the funeral hatchment of Samuel Lysons, Rector of Rodmartin, d.1804, the father of Samuel Lysons the antiquarian.


A church was built at Hempsted which stands on high ground overlooking the River Severn soon after the Norman Conquest and following a period as a chapel of St Owen's, Gloucester it passed to Llanthony Priory, Abergavenny in 1137. It was probably shortly after this time that the 'Old Chapel of Hempsted' (of which the fine Norman font is most probably a relic) was superseded by the present church. The church was partly rebuilt in 1467-77 for Henry Dene, Prior of Llanthony, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. The upper stages of the tower, and the windows and roof of the nave all date from this period, the tower displaying the characteristic workmanship of the priory's builders. Llanthony Priory was dissolved in 1539 and the following year its estate was granted by the crown to Arthur Porter of Quedgeley, of Holme Lacy, Herefordshire. In 1721 the Manor of Hempsted passed to the Lysons family in 1721, important benefactors of the church.

The church was restored and refitted in 1837-9 by George Vaughn Maddox of Monmouth; the cost met by subscriptions. He added a vestry room on the north side of the nave and a west gallery with an external entrance. The church was re-pewed and the nave re-roofed. Further restoration, also funded by subscriptions, was undertaken in 1885-6 by Frederick Sandham Waller (1822-1905) of Gloucester who removed most of Maddox's work. The vestry was replaced, connected to the east end of the nave by a cloister or passage, the gallery was removed and a new east window was added. In addition the nave was extended to the west, its roof was altered and the interior refitted.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St Swithun which dates from the C14, was partly rebuilt in 1467-77, and underwent to phases of restoration in the C19 is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: there is a good survival of medieval fabric and this is complemented by the late-C19 restoration;
* Historic interest: the responds to the east arch of the C14 tower are characteristic of work by masons employed by Llanthony Priory;
* Fittings: for its large collection of historic memorials, mostly C19 stained glass, and a late C12/early C13 font.

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