Bisley - St Mary of the Angles

Far Wells Road, Bisley, Gloucestershire, GL6

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A small, simple Arts and Crafts design of 1930 by a well-known Catholic architect, designed to sit comfortably in its picturesque Cotswold setting.

In 1916 permission was granted to Edward Raymond Barker for Mass to be said in his private oratory. More permanent arrangements came in 1930 when Charles Meek, another Bisley resident and relative of Archbishop Ullathorne, gave funds for building a church at Bisley in thanksgiving for his conversion. It was built on land belonging to the Raymond Barker Estate, from designs by the well-known and prolific Catholic architect Wilfrid Mangan. The foundation stone was laid by Fr Dunstan Sargent OP, parish priest at Stroud, on Rosary Sunday, October 1930. Mangan’s design was illustrated in The Tablet, which wrote:

In designing this little chapel, the architect has been at pains to avoid anything out of harmony with the surroundings. The walls are faced in rough white cement, heavily quoined and buttressed with local stone in random sizes and courses. The mullioned windows, of local stone, are filled with leaded glass in diamond panes, and the roof is covered with hand-made grey Cotswold tiles. Sixty worshippers will find accommodation in the little building, but provision has been made for later extension. 

On 21 March 1931, The Tabletreported that the completed church would be opened on St George’s day by Mgr Lee, Vicar Capitular of the Diocese, when Fr Bede Jarrett OP would preach. Although allowance was made for later extension, the church remains very much in its original form, and continues to be served from Stroud.

The church is small, with an unaisled nave and sanctuary under a prominent tiled roof (originally covered with grey Cotswold tiles), gabled south porch and lean-to north sacristy. The walls are rendered but with exposed dressings of local stone. The windows are mullioned, with stone hoodmoulds and leaded panes; the three-light east window is set high up. A stream gurgles in a channel under the west end. The interior, under a high-pitched collar purlin roof, is simple but pleasing. The walls are plastered, the floor timber boarded. There are no fittings and furnishings requiring particular mention.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: W. C. Mangan

Original Date: 1931

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed