Parish Church
The Church of the Holy Cross,
Sherston, Wiltshire


The Church of the Holy Cross


The Church of the Holy Cross is the Parish Church for the village of Sherston.

Parts of the church buildings are over nine hundred years old, and have stood through the ages as a meeting place for the men, women and children of the local area.

Generations of local people and visitors have worshipped God in this church and it continues in use to this day as a focal point for the community. The church is dedicated to the Holy Cross, which probably was part of a medieval preoccupation with relics. We think of the dedication to the Holy Cross as a sign of the church's commitment to the redemptive death of Christ of which the cross is, of course, the potent symbol.

The Church is part of the Gauzebrook Group of parishes which include Alderton, Easton Grey, Foxley, Hullavington, Luckington, Norton and Stanton St Quintin.
Besides the Church of the Holy Cross, Sherston also has a Methodist Church in Grove Road and a Congregational Church in Cliff Road.

We welcome visitors to our services. Our main service on Sundays, usually Holy Communion is held at 9.30 am. Families are very welcome. We also have a communion service at 8.00 am and Evensong at 6.00 pm on Sundays.

Family Service on the 3rd Sunday of the month.
Worship Together on the 2nd Sunday of the month.

Reverend Christopher Bryan

Associate Priest
Revd. Susan Harvey
Tel 01666 840696

Parish Administrator
Tel 01666 825019
email for all general enquiries, including baptisms and weddings.


The parish church is at the northern end of the broad High Street. The church can be seen from many parts of the village, and the church tower is visible from several miles away, for example from the Luckington Road, the Knockdown Road and from across the Avon valley to the south east.

The Parish was originally part of the diocese of Salisbury, but later it was transferred to the Diocese of Gloucester. It was restored to the Diocese of Bristol in 1897.

The church is constructed in four main architectural styles: Norman, Early English, Perpendicular and Georgian Gothic.

The porch

The porch is one of the architectural highlights of the church. It dates from the 15th century and is contemporary to the south transept and lady chapel.


The Porch

It is worth a closer look as it has many interesting details. The porch is built in coursed ashlar. Outside, panelled crenellations (battlements or loopholes) and ornate pinnacles edge the roof
and, in the angle between the eastern side of the porch and the body of the church, is an ancient weather-worn stone figure. Although some local legends claim this is John Rattlebone, it is more likely to be a Norman carving of a priest wearing vestments.
Stone Figure
Inside the porch, look upward to where the ceiling ribs meet. There are various bosses richly carved to depict flower patterns and heads. Look for the vault (or ceiling) springers which have two angel head corbels (inner) and two head corbels (outer).

A stoup (a basin to contain holy water) is built into the nave wall on the eastern side of the doorway. The V shaped groove cut in the stoop was a typical action taken during the time of Cromwell’s Parliament.



There is a pair of late 19th century open pierced outer doors. A new glass door provides a transparent draughtproof covering to the oak front door. Services are held in church two or three times on each Sunday, as well as on other days during the week.
The present church reflects the changing architectural styles of many English churches from Norman times until the middle of the
18th century, and bears the marks of a restoration carried out in the 1870's. This development took place in four major stages and examples of each of the main architectural stages are visible from the main aisle:
Church face
1. The Norman arcade, that is the four bays with decorated semi-circular archers over circular columns (separating the main area of the nave from the north aisle) dates from about 1170 together with the corresponding south arch to the present vestry.
The Norman arcade
2. In the early 13th century a further expansion took place when the north aisle, transept, and tower were built, all in the early English style, and a little later in the same century the new chancel was completed.

3. The south aisle with its Perpendicular windows was built in the I5th century. Beneath another late Norman arch is the entry to the clergy and choir vestry. At the eastern end there is a chapel dedicated to St. Cyr and St. Julietta. Later in the I5th century a

processional way was built between the chancel and the north transept which involved cutting through the north-east tower pier and erecting an enclosing wall with square headed window and roof.
The south aisle windows
4. The next substantial stage in the development of the church took place in 1730 when the 13th century tower and spire reached a state of collapse and was taken down to the height of the nave and rebuilt to the design of Thomas Sumsion. In the 1870's a restoration of the east end of the church took place under the direction of the architect Thomas Henry Wyatt (1807-1880).

The East Front

On the north wall to the chancel there is a large piece of stone work, set at shoulder height, which carries carvings similar to those of the Saxon period.

The North Transept

Notice the corbel table (moulded corbels and carved beast and man) on the east side. There is a blocked arch at a low level. On the north side look for the beast head (so called 'Malmesbury Type') hood stop, which may have been re-used from the Norman building. On the west side see the grotesque heads at the corbel table (below the eaves) which belong to the 13th century.

The West Front

The north aisle and the nave contain two l5th century perpendicular windows, and also typical buttresses of the same date.

The wall would have been reconstructed when the windows were inserted.

The Tower, Clock and
Church Bells

The tower contains a ring of six bells (tenor 8ct 1qr 12lb) hung by White’s of Appleton in 1979, and a smaller Sanctus bell which is not presently in use.

Church Belfry
The earliest mention of bells at Sherston is in 1553 when an Inventory of Goods in Churches was compiled. There were ‘iiii bells and a Sanctus bell’ at Sherston. For a church to have four bells in the 16th century was the exception, and this fact confirms the relative importance of the town of Sherston in former times.
None of the bells listed in 1553 still exists, although it is very likely that metal from them was used in casting their successors
Church bells

The state of the tower and steeple caused concern after the new bells were hung. The Revd Thomas Weeksey and others petitioned the Bishop of Sarum in 1730 for permission to take down the steeple and the decayed part of the tower. Perhaps they had in mind the fatal disaster of 1699 when the church tower at Dursley fell while the bells were ringing. Thomas Sumsion (1672-1744) of Colerne, was employed to design the new tower, having previously designed the new tower at Dursley, completed in 1709. (see )

The Clock

The clock was built by Smith of Derby and installed in 1897 to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Churchyard and Surrounding Church Buildings
The church has a large churchyard that dates back to mediaeval times though no stones of that period survive. There are some headstones and box tombs of the 17th and 18th centuries on either side of the path leading from the Lych Gate to the south porch. Sadly, the sandstone from which most of them were cut weathers very badly and many of the inscriptions have been lost.
Top view from the Church
View to the North

There is a gravestone to Private George Strong VC, Coldstream Guards, who was one of the earliest recipients of the Victoria Cross. Private Strong was decorated with the Victoria Cross at the age of 21 years while serving in the Crimean war. He died in Sherston in August 1888.

The old vicarage, adjacent to the Church in Church Street dates from the 17th century, with 18th and 19th century additions.) There was also a rectory on the opposite side of the road, behind the present site of the Rattlebone public house. The old rectory had access to the tithe barn, which is now the village hall.


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