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St Leonard, Stowell, Gloucestershire

(51°48′59″N, 1°52′25″W)
SP 088 131
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
  • John Wand
18 August 2016

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Stowell, one of the smallest parishes in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, lies near Northleach, and is about 10 miles SE of Cheltenham. The church, which lies on sloping ground opposite Stowell House, is cruciform in plan and comprises of a chancel and central tower with N and S transepts, with an aisleless nave. It is built mainly of coursed limestone rubble with a slate roof; 19thc restoration work is mostly in ashlar. The nave and chancel date to the 12thc, as does the crossing and S transept. Only the plain W window is original. The S and blocked N doorways. There is a chancel piscina, which is surmounted by a 13thc credence. There is a second 13thc piscina in the S transept. There are several 12thc wall paintings which are described in Edwards (1984).


In 1086 Stowell was part of Gloucester Abbey’s Northleach estate, held at that date by the Archbishop of York. There is no further record of the manor until 1236 when it was held from William of Hastings. The church was originally a chapel of Northleach, but was described as a parish church in 1340.


Exterior Features



Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Tower/Transept arches
Nave arches

Loose Sculpture


The church shows signs of instability, due to which the upper part of the central tower collapsed and was replaced by a gabled roof. In addition the piers of the crossing are all tilted out of the perpendicular. To counteract this instability there is buttressing at the SE angle of the chancel and S transept, and at the W end of the nave, whilst the N transept has been rebuilt. There are plans of the church in Salter (2008) and Knowles (1928).


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, London 1899, Vol. 3, 269.

J. Edwards. 'The Martyrdom Wall-Paintings at St Leonard's Church, Stowell' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeology Society 102 (1984), 133-140.

W. H. Knowles 'The Development of Architecture in Gloucestershire in the course of the twelfth century' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeology Society 50 (1928), 57-96.

M. Salter, The Old Parish Churches of Gloucestershire, Malvern 2008, 130-131.

A History of the County of Gloucester, Vol 9, Victoria County History, London 2001 208-217.

D. Verey and A. Brooks, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire I: the Cotswolds, 3rd ed, London 1999, 635-637.

A. Williams and G.H. Martin (ed.), Domesday Book. A Complete Translation, London 2003 452.