We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Mary, Berkeley, Gloucestershire

(51°41′23″N, 2°27′25″W)
ST 685 991
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Ron Baxter
28 August 2008

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=4519.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Berkeley is a small town in the Stroud district of Gloucestershire, midway between Bristol to the SW and Gloucester to the NE. The nearest large town is Stround, 10 miles to the NE. Berkeley is in the Vale of Berkeley, a mile E of the Severn estuary, and is best known for its castle (qv), the site of King Edward II’s murder. The castle stands on the SE edge of the town, with the church alongside it.

St Mary’s is a large church of the 12thc and later, with a chancel with flanking chapels and a Perpendicular 9-light E window (altered from a 7-light composition in 1843), an aisled nave with 7-bay arcades of the 13thc and a clerestory on the S side only, and a N porch. The W window is a 5-light stepped lancet. Late Romanesque sculture is found on the S nave doorway and the font. There is no tower on the church, but a free-standing one of 1753 some 30m N of the church, built on the site of a 15thc tower.


Berkeley was held by King Edward before the Conquest, and by King William after it. It was assessed at 5 hides. There were also 10 radknights (mounted retainers) who held a further 7 hides here. The manor was said to have been granted by King William to Roger, Lord of Dursley (see Rudge (1803), 199-200), whose family assumed the name of de Berkeley and who held the manor only until the latter part of the reign of Stephen. They were deprived of it on the grounds of their support for that king against Matilda and her son Henry of Anjou, later Henry II. He seized Berkeley Castle and its manor from Roger de Berkeley and in 1153 gave it to Robert Fitz Harding, a wealthy citizen of Bristol, nobly descended from Eadnoth the Staller, a Domesday landowner who had died fighting for his king. Robert Fitz Harding had financed some of Henry’s early campaigns, and Berkeley was his reward. The problem with the Berkeleys was resolved by a double marriage: Robert’s eldest son Maurice married Roger de Berkeley’s daughter Alice (taking the name Maurice de Berkeley), and Roger’s eldest son married one of Robert’s daughters. The manor remained with the descendants of Maurice de Berkeley throughout the medieval period.


Exterior Features





The trumpet scallop and trefoil capitals of S doorway point to a date in the 1170s or 1180s for this work; certainly earlier than the arcades, and the doorway is presumably reset from a time before the aisles were added. The font may be contemporary with the doorway, although Verey (1980) dates it to the mid-12thc.


J. H. Cooke, A Sketch of the History of Berkeley, Its Castle, Church, and the Berkeley Family, 1880.

Historic England Listed Building 132204

T, Rudge, The History of the County of Gloucester; Compressed and brought down to the year 1803, 2 vols, Gloucester 1803, II, 198-207

D. Verey, The Buildings of England - Gloucestershire: The Vale and Forest of Dean, Harmondsworth 1980, 98-101.