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St Peter, Newnham-on-Severn, Gloucestershire

(51°48′4″N, 2°26′58″W)
SO 691 115
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Hereford
now Gloucester
medieval St Peter
now St Peter
  • Ron Baxter
18 June 2009

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Newnham-on-Severn is a village on the W bank of the Severn estuary, 10 miles SW of Gloucester and on the eastern edge of the Forest of Dean. The A48 Gloucester to Newport road runs through the village. St Peter’s church stands alongside the river, and was built by Waller and Son in 1875, incorporating some 14thc fabric in the tower. This new church was almost immediately burnt down and rebuilt by the same architect in 1881. It consists of a shallow chancel with a S vestry; a nave with a 4-bay S aisle, a deep N porch and a transeptal N chapel. The W tower has a battlemented parapet and a short pyramidal spire. Romanesque features are preserved in the church: a chevron-ornamented window reset above the N doorway inside; the font and a group of loose carved stones under the tower.


A holding in Newnham is mentioned in the Domesday Survey as held by William FitzBaderon in 1086, when it was assessed at 1 hide. Following VCH, however, the manor and borough of Newnham belonged to the crown in the 11thc, and in 1086 was included in the large royal estate of Westbury. Royal demesne in Newnham was mentioned in 1130, and it remained in the crown’s possession until 1327.

A church was mentioned at Newnham in 1016, and its dedication to St Peter is known in 1310. This church originally stood on a different site, and was rebuilt c.1380 on the present site, given by Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford (Woods (1912), 57-59, VCH.


Exterior Features




Loose Sculpture


Rudge (1803) wrote of the medieval church that the arch leading to the chancel ‘shows considerable antiquity, being in the early Norman style, pointed and ornamented with zig-zag mouldings’. Gethyn Jones ((1979), 38) compared the decoration of the three capitals and the tympanum with work at Dymock and Kempley, suggesting that they were also by the Dymock School but later than the work at Kempley. He dated all of this work c.1125-45. The font belongs to a small local group, normally called late Norman, that includes the fonts at Mitcheldean, Rendcombe and Newnham in Gloucestershire, and the font at Hereford Cathedral, as well as a the shaft of the font at Burghill. The figures represent eleven apostles and a woman who is likely to be the Virgin, but St Mary Magdalene cannot be ruled out on the evidence of what may be long hair down to her feet. St Peter is clearly figure 2, while James the Great, Matthew and Paul were executed with the sword, so two of them could be figures 7 and 12.


E. Gethyn-Jones, The Dymock School of Sculpture,London and Chichester 1979, 37-40.

Historic England listed building 353977

T. Rudge, The History of the County of Gloucester, Gloucester 1803, 2, 73.

Victoria County History: Gloucestershire 10, 1972, 29-49.

D. Verey, The Buildings of England. Gloucestershire: the Vale and the Forest of Dean, London 1970 (2nd ed. 1976), 310-11.