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St Mary the Virgin, Kempsford, Gloucestershire

(51°40′1″N, 1°46′6″W)
SU 161 965
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
  • Jean and Garry Gardiner
  • John Wand
12, 14 June 1998 8 June 2016

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Feature Sets

The church consists of a 13thc/14thc chancel; a Norman nave with 15thc clerestory; a 13thc S porch; a 15thc/16thc N porch, and a central tower mainly of the 15thc. It was restored by G. E. Street c.1858, when a S chapel was added to the chancel.

The 12thc work comprises an aisleless nave built in fine ashlar masonry, S and N doorways both in situ, and fragments reset into the 13thc chancel exterior wall. A Romanesque chevron string course runs around the exterior of the nave over the clasping pilaster buttresses.


Before the Conquest the manor was held by Osgod from Earl Harold; in 1086 it was held by Ernulf de Hesdin. By 1096 Ernulf had been succeeded by his son-in-law, Patrick de Chaworth. No church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but it was in existence before 1096 as Ernulf granted the church, together with the tithes and the land held by the priest, to Gloucester Abbey. The grant of tithes was confirmed by Patrick de Chaworth and his wife, Maud (VCH, vol. 7).


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

The detail of the carving on the S nave doorway is exceptional, with evidence of nailhead and sawtooth decoration hidden in the plinths and bases, well-preserved capitals, mouldings, and a head at the apex of the arch. The nave is built of finely jointed large ashlar blocks, with clasping buttresses and a zigzag stringcourse around the Romanesque building,which may reflect the illustrious patronage. The church guide cites the piscina in the nave as Romanesque; however, the cusped and pointed form appears to be a Gothic addition.


Anon. St Mary the Virgin, Kempsford, church guide, n. d.

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, London, 1899, III, 166.

British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol7/pp96-105 [accessed 27 January 2017].

Historic England Building listing 1089451: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1089451 [accessed 4 July 2020]

A.B. Mynors, 'Kempsford', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society, 57 (1935), 192-233.

M. Salter, The Old Parish Churches of Gloucestershire, Malvern, 2008, 88-89.

  1. G. E. Street, Lambeth Palace Library ICBS 5021 1856.
  1. D. Verey and A. Brooks, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire I: the Cotswolds (3rd edition),London, 1999, 424-426.

Victoria County History, A History of the County of Gloucester, Vol. 7, ed. N. M. Herbert, Oxford, 1981, 96-105.

  1. V. Weissman, St Mary the Virgin, a Visitors' Guide, Private Press, 2006.
  1. A. Williams and G.H. Martin (eds.) Domesday Book. A Complete Translation, London, 2003, 467.