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St Nicholas of Myra, Ozleworth, Gloucestershire

(51°38′17″N, 2°17′56″W)
ST 794 933
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
  • Rita Wood
  • Rita Wood
06 Aug 2019

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=12439.

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Ozleworth is a small settlement, hardly more than the Hall, in the convoluted W edge of the Cotswold escarpment, draining SW to Alderley. The church is reached through the grounds of the Hall. The building consists of a chancel, a central tower and a nave with a S porch. The central tower is on an irregular hexagonal plan which is widest on the E and W; the upper part of the tower with the ‘belfry’ windows is thought to be a little later than the lower part. The original E arch, to the chancel, survives, as do part of the chancel walls on N and S, but the chancel was extended in the 14thc. The nave arch, the rectangular nave with S doorway and S porch, the blocked N doorway and also the font, date perhaps to c. 1220.

There was a ‘drastic’ restoration in 1873, by the Rev. William H. Lowder. The building passed to the Redundant Churches Fund (now the Churches Conservation Trust) in 1975.

The tower with its six windows and one interior arch are relevant to the CRSBI. Other features (the nave arch, blocked N doorway and font) are briefly included in the report as showing the survival of some 12th-c forms into the next century.

There is a phased plan signed by Thomas Overbury (Wilkinson, Overbury and St Clair Baddeley, 1926, opp. 368).


Before the Norman Conquest, the whole area was part of the royal manor of Berkeley. The land was granted to Roger de Berkeley I by William the Conqueror.

Roger of Berkeley II, who died in 1131, founded on his manor of Stanley a house of canons dedicated to St Leonard. The endowment of the priory consisted of the churches of Ozleworth, Coaley, Arlingham, Slimbridge and Uley. Nothing is known of the foundation except that it was a college of secular canons, possibly Augustinian canons, and was always small.

In 1146, with the consent of the prior and canons, Roger of Berkeley III gave the church of Stanley St Leonard to the Benedictine abbey of St Peter at Gloucester, and it became a cell to that house (VCH Gloucestershire II, (1907) 72-73).


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Nave arches




At least the lower parts of the tower must date from the time of Roger of Berkeley, probably around 1110-20. It may have been used as the nave, with an apse to the E, and perhaps a short narthex to the W (Wilkinson 1926, 357; Overbury 1926, 360), but there seems to be no physical evidence of those parts. On the basis of the style of capitals and other carved elements it has been suggested that the upper stage was probably added around 1150-60 (Verey 2002a, 358-9).

Another church with hexagonal tower is at Swindon, a NW suburb of Cheltenham. A doorway and a more complex interior arch survive, but otherwise the oldest parts of the church were ‘treated shamefully’ in a restoration in 1844-6 (Verey 2002b, 704-5).

Verey mentions the round churches of the Knights Templar and Hospitaller as possible inspiration; these, presumably, were in turn modelled on the church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem.

  1. F. E. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, III, London 1899.

Victoria County History: vol II, 72-3.

  1. D. Verey, Gloucestershire 2: the Vale and the Forest of Dean., London 2002 (b), 704-5.
  1. D. Verey and A. Brooks, Gloucestershire 1: the Cotswolds, 3rd edition, London 2002 (a), 538-9.

L. Wilkinson, T. Overbury and W. St Clair Baddeley, "The church of St Nicholas of Myra, Ozleworth, Gloucestershire", Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 48 (1926), 355-78.