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St Nicholas, Ashchurch, Gloucestershire

(51°59′56″N, 2°6′27″W)
SO 927 334
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
  • John Wand
  • John Wand
3 September 2019

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Ashchurch lies 2 miles east of the centre of Tewkesbury, Glucestershire. The church of St Nicholas is immediately off the A46 and close to junction 9 of the M5. It is situated on level ground and consists of a chancel, nave with N aisle, S porch and W tower. There is a plan in Knowles (1928). The nave is unusually long and has a 12thc. core; the chancel, N arcade and N aisle date to the 13thc. The S doorway and adjacent window are Romanesque and there are also sculptural fragments incorporated in the exterior of the S nave wall and interior of the N nave wall.


In 1086 the whole of what was later the parish of Ashchurch formed part of the manor of Tewkesbury, and was held by the Crown. The land subsequently descended with Tewkesbury manor, though it included land that had been granted to the abbeys of Tewkesbury and of Bolbec (Seine Maritime, Normandy) and land that was subinfeudated to lay lords. Ashchurch did not become a separate parish until after the dissolution.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Interior Features

Interior Decoration


The top of the S window seems an odd fit to the rest of the window, given that the moulding does not continue down the sides and is shaved back at the right-hand side. This suggests that the head might have been reset. Alternatively, given that the stone seems to match the rest of the surround, it might be an original window using a piece of sculpture recycled from Tewkesbury Abbey.

The two pieces of sculpture with pelleted circles are unusual. They appear to belong to a substantial feature, perhaps a large and impressive doorway. One parallel is the paterae or roundels found at Old Sarum and Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire; St Nicholas, Kenilworth, Warwickshire; Lullington, Somerset; Portchester Priory, Hampshire; Bishop Alexander of Lincoln’s castle at Newark, Nottinghamshire; Llandaff and Hereford Cathedrals and Forthampton, Gloucestershire. Stalley attributes the distribution of these roundels to the family and political connections of Bishop Roger of Salisbury. However, all of these examples have the decoration confined within the roundel. One possible example of a decoration emerging from a roundel is at Codford St Mary, which Brodie suggests might have been made by a sculptor during the diaspora of workers from Bishop Roger’s workshop after the bishop’s death. There is no known connection between Bishop Roger and the Abbey, but the Ashchurch and Forthampton roundels might be the work of a member of the diaspora from Bishop Roger’s workshop.Both Ashchurch and Forthampton lie within 2 miles of Tewkesbury Abbey. It is possible that both churches reused architectural fragments from the Abbey; given the disparate positioning of the two roundels at Ashchurch it is unlikely that they had any great significance when they were reset in the church.

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), Vol. III, 35.

C. R. Elrington, 'Parishes: Ashchurch' Victoria County History of Gloucestershire, Vol 8 (London, 1968), 172-188.

Historic England Building listing 1153103

W. H. Knowles, 'The Church of St Nicholas, Ashchurch' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 50 (1928), 97-102.

  1. R. Stalley ‘A Twelfth Century Patron of Architecture’ Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Vol XXXIV 3rd series (1971), 67 n.6.
  1. M. Salter, The Old Parish Churches of Gloucestershire (Great Malvern, 2008), 22.
  1. D. Verey and A. Brooks. The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire 2: The Vale and the Forest of Dean (London: Yale University Press, 1970/2002), 151-152.