CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

St Mary's Church, Sudeley Castle, Winchombe

PUBLISHED: 16:15 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:34 20 February 2013

St. Mary's

St. Mary's

Ravaged by Oliver's armies and abandoned to ruin, the church of St Mary's now hosts more hospitable affairs

The stained glass windows and stones of St. Mary's, the beautiful little 15th century church in the Sudeley Castle gardens have been witness to over 600 years of Christian ritual for the people who have lived and worked at Sudeley and in the parish. It has also been ravaged by Oliver Cromwell's armies, abandoned to picturesque ruin and lovingly restored by its 19th century owners, the Dent family. Now gracefully retired to a chapel at ease, it still opens its doors for family services, evensong and occasional special celebrations of some of Sudeley's illustrious past inhabitants.

These events are imaginatively created and directed by the present Vicar of Winchcombe, John Partington and are very enjoyable to attend. Recently there was a service to celebrate the life of Queen Katherine Parr on the anniversary of her death 460 years ago, and her remains, after being dug up and re-buried many times, now rest below her most exquisite effigy near the church altar. I had been much looking forward to attending this event until I was unexpectedly delayed with other duties, in the form of my three over-excited grandsons, taking priority. Their parents, who had been in France on a short sun-seeking break, were held up by heavy rain and blocked roads from Bristol and I was still required on 'grandma shift'.

Fortunately the heavens had relented briefly the week before for a very happy family occasion - the christening of my youngest grandchild Jake, an 18-month-old cherub- resembling bundle of energy. Parents and grandparents, godparents and a few friends, plus a handful of children gathered in the church where we took part in a charming, heart warming and child friendly service devised and lead by the resourceful Rev. Partington. The children hopped, sang and clapped to favourite hymns and songs and the parents behaved like demented paparazzi taking photographs. Jake, the guest of honour, stomped and sang along and let out a loud chuckle when lifted at the font for the Baptism. I don't know what this means for his character but we will hope for the best.

The relationship between Emma Dent, the Victorian chatelaine of Sudeley and her spiritual leader, the Reverend Noble Jackson, was not so convivial according to Emma in her diaries. Jean Bray's delightful book The Lady of Sudeley tells us of dark days in the parish.

This was an era of passionate religious controversy where differences of style could lead to fierce antagonism. Mr. Jackson, formally a friend and the curate of St. Mary's, when promoted to Vicar of Winchcombe appointed a 'ritualist' to take his place as the new curate of Sudeley. John Dent, Emma's husband was incensed, complained to the Bishop about this 'Romanism' on his doorstop and asked for his removal.

Emma exacerbated the situation by directing that Catechism should be dispensed with at the local King's School. On hearing of this the Rev.Jackson lost his head and became very abusive. More insults and outrages ensued, culminating in the vicar refusing to say the burial service correctly over people he disliked or disapproved of (including John Dent) and the feud between the former friends was to run for the rest of their lives. Even The Cheltenham Examiner reported on the unfolding story.

Emma bitterly quotes 'How incredible it seems that a man of 50 should retain such uncharitable and cruel views. Poor Rev'd Noble Jackson - I am sorry to say he is another example of the uncertainly of men having been admirable in one position being unable to bear a promotion to power.' Records do not reveal what the Rev. may have said about Emma!

Fortunately, today the parish of Winchcombe and Sudeley seems at peace with itself. Our kind and versatile vicar of both churches and several more in the vicinity is able to devise ceremonies to suit all tastes, sizes and leanings, and The Gloucestershire Echo doesn't seem to be the least bit concerned. How lucky we are.

The Lady of Sudeley is on sale at Sudeley Castle and all bookshops and I can highly recommend it to anyone who would enjoy an intimate insight into the life and secret thoughts of an extraordinary Victorian woman,.........


More from Out & about

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search