St Mary the Virgin, Barnsley, Gloucestershire

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Feature Sets (3)


The church is 12thc in origin. It has alterations and additions from every subsequent century and was thoroughly restored by James Park Harrison in 1843-47 (Verey (1970), 96-97; Verey (1957), 173-78). The surviving 12thc work comprises the chancel arch piers, capitals, and imposts; the exterior corbel table of the chancel now partly within the organ chamber and vestry; a string course; the N doorway; and two windows plus fragments reset into the 19thc E wall of the organ chamber. One of these reset Norman windows, as well as a 13thc two-light window in the nave, was brought from Daglingworth church during the restoration of the latter in 1845 (Keyser (1918-19), 150-53).


Barnsley belonged to the bishopric of Worcester before 822. In 1086 it was held by Durand along with three hides and one yardland as part of the manor of Bibury from the Bishop of Worcester (VCH, 13). The church was built by 1151 and was originally a chapel to Bibury (Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, 26-70).


Exterior Features


N nave doorway

The doorway, in situ, is round-headed, of two orders. Numerous votive crosses are inscribed on the jambs. There are clear tool marks: vertical on shafts and diagonal on flat surfaces. There is no evidence of a change in sill level. Above is a small semi-circular opening cut deeply into the wall.

Height 2.17m
Width 1.29m
1st order

Square base and beginning of angle roll cut into stone. The arch is a continuous angle roll.

2nd order

Same as first order, but a thinner roll. Chamfered label.


Rectangular window stone containing two round-headed lights

Inscribed with a continuous line around each opening. The rectangular surround has a sawtooth design shallowly carved on the perimeter. According to Verey, the window was removed from the S wall of the chancel and reset in the 19thc E wall of the organ chamber, whilst Keyser (1918, 177) states that it is an aumbrey possibly relocated from Daglingworth. It is 0.71m  from the window's centre to the junction with the chancel S wall, 2.22m above the ground.

Height 0.79m
Height of lights 0.60m
Thickness of stone 0.10m
Width 0.49m
Width of lights 0.13m
Width of space between openings 0.11m

Round headed single light

A rectangular single-stone window head is inscribed with a round head and five radiating voussoirs. The soffit and sill are chamfered. It was moved to Barnsley during the 1845 restoration of Daglingworth and set into the 19thc E wall of the organ chamber, 1.65m S from the junction with the chancel, 2.165m from the ground.

Height 1.73m
Width 0.145m

Exterior Decoration

String courses

Reset fragment of string course 1

This fragment of string course is reset in the 19thc E wall of organ chamber. It continues from junction with S chancel wall for 2.29m along E wall of organ chamber. The upper half has sawtooth decoration; the rounded lower half has beaded cable on two horizontal and one vertical stones but is undecorated for the remainder of the string course.

Height 0.14m
Height above ground 1.98m
Total length of beaded cable string-course 0.655m
Total length string-course fragments 2.96m

Reset fragment of string course 2

Set into 19thc E wall of organ chamber, 1.5m from the SE corner, 2.11m above the ground.

Height 0.2m
Width 0.12m

Corbel tables, corbels

Corbel table

A corbel table runs at eaves level along the S and N walls of the chancel. Parts of this feature are now within the 19thc organ chamber. On the S wall there are at least 18 corbels (Keyset counts 20), and 15 on the N exterior wall. They are somewhat uneven in spacing, in size, and in condition. Corbels S12 to S18 are under a course of single roll billet. Corbels S3-S6 are hidden behind the organ and corbel N15 is obscured by the vestry chimney.

1. S wall within the organ chamber

W to E:

S1: Small and narrow oval head with forelock in a cowl, bulging oval eyes, drilled pupils, projecting nose, upturned and partly open mouth. Very well preserved.
S2: Wider corbel, with a rounded kite-shaped head, large bulging eyes, a ridge for a nose, a long, drooping moustache, and pointed chin. Less refined carving than S1.
S3: Hidden behind organ. A stylised head with bulging drilled eyes, reeded hair and beard (may have open mouth like a gargoyle)
S4: Badly mutilated.
S5: Finely carved head with fluted fringe, large drilled eyes, protruding eyebrows, open mouth deeply undercut with tongue showing. Very well preserved.
S6: Upper range: two narrow roll billets. In cavetto below: a centred larger roll billet.
S7: Head, hair helmet-like, drooping moustache, reeded beard. Same size as S1.
S8: As S6.
S9: Cat-like head, large bulging drilled oval eyes, flat nose, incised downturned mouth, ears and forehead defined by a crisp roll.
S10: As S6.

2. Exterior of S chancel wall

W to E:

S11: Bridled head, pointed ears, large drilled bulging eyes, remainder damaged.
S12: Beast's head, projecting nose and eyes, ears folded down, wide open mouth, the lower jaw and tongue curled back to form base of corbel.
S13: Lower half missing. Head wearing stiff crown-like cap, bulging ringed eyes, top of projecting nose.
S14: Ram's head with long curling, spirally-grooved horns. No features remain, except its wide open mouth facing downwards.
S15: Badly weathered and unrecognisable.
S16: Head, shallowly carved, with ringed and drilled bulging eyes. Slightly projecting nose and curved wide moustache.
S17: Beast's head,with ringed bulging eyes, pointed ears, long curving moustache over open mouth. Wide tongue and jaw curve back to form base of corbel.
S18: Head with cat's ears. Badly weathered.

3. N exterior wall

E to W:

N1: As S6.
N2: Oval female head, reeded hair wraps from R to L to meet beneath chin. Ringed drilled eyes, small nose, incised mouth.
N3: As S9, except upturned mouth, and with incised line defining ears and top of head.
N4: Human head, ringed bulging drilled eyes, projecting nose, long drooping moustache, pursed mouth. Hands clasp beard either side. 
N5: Human head, reeded cap-like hair and beard scrolled at tips. Ringed drilled bulging eyes, long drooping thin moustache, down-turned incised mouth.
N6: Beast's head with cat-like ears, bulging eyes, mutilated nose, and long drooping moustache. Badly weathered.
N7: Small and narrow human head with incised round eyes. Badly weathered.
N8: As S6.
N9: Small human head, with cap of reeded hair to shoulders, reeded fan-like beard, bulging drilled round eyes, and flat nose. Similar to S3.
N10: Head with cat-like ears, bulging oval drilled eyes, and open mouth facing downward.
N11: Heart-shaped beakhead clasping roll, cat-like ears, bulging drilled eyes.
N12: Small cat head, with large round bulging drilled eyes.
N13: Small female head as N2, but smiling and of finer carving.
N14: Beast's head, with rounded ears and almond-shaped drilled eyes. Mouth and cheek striations echo lower eye contour.               N15: AS S6, partially hidden by chimney.

Reset corbel

Reset in 19thc E wall of organ chamber, approximately 2m S of junction with chancel, and approximately 2.4m above ground. Robustly carved hybrid head supporting an impost. A wide grinning mouth with two rows of pointed teeth, a large nose with zigzag on the bridge between large bulging almond eye rings of pointed section. Above, spiral twisted cones project upwards to support the corners of the impost, and between are thick tapering reverse U's with rounded section. Centred above, a crisp narrow arrowhead supports the middle of the impost. Impost has a quirk above chamfered lower edge on front face and N face, but S face is flat.

Height of corbel and impost 0.35m
Width 0.27m


Reset string course

Reset, partially buried, string course at the base of the S chancel wall with saw tooth decoration

Reset voussoir

Centrifugally carved cogwheel chevron voussoir of two rolls flanking a step and hollow, the boss on the soffit. Reset into exterior of 19thc wall at NE corner of organ chamber at junction with chancel S wall, approximately 2.45m above ground.

Height 0.25m
Width 0.12m

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Two orders. The 12thc piers spread outwards at the top; pointed arches are 13thc. E face is unarticulated.

Height incl necking, L capital 1st order 0.185m
Height incl necking, L capital 2nd order 0.195m
Height incl necking, R capital 1st order 0.195m
Height incl necking, R capital 2nd order 0.20m
Height, L capital 1st order 0.16m
Height, L capital 2nd order 0.17m
Height of opening to top of impost 2.515m
Height, R capital 1st order 0.18m
Height, R capital 2nd order 0.175m
Width of opening at base of impost 2.46m
Width of opening at floor 2.27m
1st order, W face

L side: monolithic attic base on a plinth, restored or retooled. Engaged nook shaft, plain roll necking. Double scallop capital with incised collar on the cones.
Impost: a hollow between two quirks, the lower face hollow with semi-circular pellets each 0.06m in diameter and with a deeply drilled hole in the centre.
R side: Base, shaft and impost as L. Cushion capital with incised decoration, the scallop on the N face bordered by two lines, a spiral top L and chip carved leaves in the field. W face a scallop with two incised borders, the field two superimposed circles and radiating chip carved foliage. The lower part of the capital with a tuck central to each face.

2nd order, W face

L side: plinth with incised border to frame an attic base which has a stem that trails to corner of plinth where it forms a spur, damaged, but possibly a leaf shape. Engaged nook shaft, plain roll necking, double cushion capital. Impost continuous from first order.
R side: base as L, but without stem trail or spur. Shaft, necking and impost as L.
Capital: two layers of acanthus foliage. Lower layer of fleshy acanthus scrolls into flat volute at each corner and projects at an angle. Upper layer: double grooved stems bifurcate to scroll into a flat volute at each side, non-projecting at angle. Deeply carved and drilled.

Interior Decoration

String courses

String course

In the vestry on the original chancel exterior N wall. It has a face of shallow sawtooth decoration above a rounded section, as reset fragment 1 on the 19thc wall of organ chamber.

Height of stone 0.1 m
Length of string course 2.22 m


The simple sawtooth string course (1) reset in the 19thc E wall of the organ chamber may be that removed from the N chancel wall when the vestry was added; it is identical to the string course remaining in the vestry. The chevron voussoir also reset in the E wall of the organ chamber may be from the arch of the blocked S doorway. The undecorated face of the impost of the large corbel reset in the same wall suggests its possible use as a terminal corbel supporting posts for a timber roof.


  • F. Arnold-Forster Studies in Church Dedications London 1899 III 42

  • A. de Courcy, A short history of the Church and Village of Barnsley, 1992.

  • Historic England Listed Building 1303501

  • C. E. Keyser, 'Visit to the Churches of Barnsley, Bibury, Aldsworth, Winson, Coln Rogers, and Coln St Denys', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 41 (1918-19), 172-178.

  • Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, ed. H. E. Salter, Oxford Historical Society, 6 vols, Oxford 1929–36, Vol. VI.
  • H. Tovey. 1927. Glos Archives GDR F1/1/1927/3

  • 'Transactions in the Fairford District, August 9th to 11th, 1899', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 22 (1899), 67-68.

  • David Verey and A. Brooks. The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire I: the Cotswolds (3rd edition) London 1999. 154-155

  • David Verey, 'Extracts from the Rev. G. Ernest Howman's Account of the Restoration of Barnsley Church, January 1847', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 76 (1957), 173-78.

  • David Verey, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, Harmondsworth 1970. 96-98.

  • Victoria County History, A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 7, ed. N. M. Herbert (Oxford, 1981), 13-21.

Church from NE
Interior, view from W.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 078 051 
now: Gloucestershire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Gloucestershire
now: Gloucester
medieval: Worcester
medieval: St Mary the Virgin
now: St Mary the Virgin
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Jean and Garry Gardiner, John Wand 
Visit Date
07 Jun 1998