Building » Cricklade – St Mary

Cricklade – St Mary

High Street, Cricklade, Wiltshire, GL7

A medieval parish church declared redundant in 1981 and returned to Catholic use in 1984 on a ninety-nine year lease. It is an architecturally significant building on Cricklade’s High Street and includes work of various periods from the twelfth century onwards. The return of a medieval parish church to Catholic use is relatively rare and adds to the building’s significance. Churchyard monuments include an important medieval lantern cross.

Before the Second World War a Mass centre was located in Gas Lane in a building which had been used as a cinema. From 1946 the new Prior Park Preparatory School had its own chapel which was opened for public use but many local Catholics still preferred to use rented accommodation. In 1949 this was a Nissen hut in Waylands, in the early 1950s the Town Hall, then in 1955 the Baptist chapel in Calcutt Street was purchased to provide permanent premises as the church of St Augustine of Canterbury. By 1982 this was in poor condition and moves were put in hand to take over the medieval Anglican parish church of St Mary, which had been declared redundant in 1981. This duly took place with a 99-year lease being granted and the first Mass was celebrated here on 1 January 1984.In 1998 the Friends of St Mary’s Cricklade was established. The church is served from Fairford.


The building is described in the list entry, below. The building has undergone two major restorations, the first in 1862-3 by John Galpin of Oxford, including re-pewing. This seating scheme is of some significance since it is among the very latest Anglican schemes in which the seats have doors (in the earlier box-pew tradition). Galpin took out the dormer windows on the south roof slope of the nave, but these were reinstated in a second phase of restoration, under C. E. Ponting in 1908.

Furnishings which post-date the acquisition of the church for Catholic use include:

  • The tabernacle, 1990, with brass canopy added by Lesley Webb of Fairford in 2000
  • The altar beneath came from Prior Park Chapel and the previous church
  • The hanging sanctuary lamp of beaten brass came from the church of St Teresa of Lisieux, Taunton (1959)
  • The altar table has an oak mensa and incorporates a marble altar stone from the convent at Lechlade
  • An oak reading desk of 2007 by Ian Westlake of Fairford is designed to complement the seventeenth-century altar table 
  • The oak Rood above the chancel arch was carved by Patrick Conoley of Hartpury in 1960 when he was working for R.L. Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham. It was commissioned for the Chapel of the Annunciation at Lechlade where it hung behind the altar until the closure of the chapel in 1998
  • A small wooden crucifix in the sanctuary was carved in Oberammergau
  • A nineteenth-century statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, probably French in origin, was given by the Sisters of St Clotilde who ran a school at Lechlade Manor from 1939 to 1998. The pedestal comes from the former Benedictine Convent at Fernham, which closed in 2002
  • The north chapel, described in the list entry as an organ chamber, is now the Chapel of St Augustine of Canterbury (the 1893 organ mentioned in the list entry was removed in 2001), and has recently been enclosed and adapted as a sacristy/meeting room/children’s liturgy space
  • The Stations of the Cross were sponsored by various families in the parish, 1986.

List Description


Former Anglican parish church of Cricklade St. Mary, now Roman Catholic parish church. C12, C13, C14 and C19. Limestone rubble. Stone slate roof. It comprises a nave, north and south aisles, chancel and west tower, with north chapel to chancel. Aisles have wide C19 three-light cinquefoil windows with labels. Chancel 2-light plate tracery, also C19. No clerestorey but two 3- light gabled dormers on south chapel is C13 with mid C14 three- light cinquefoil window and angle buttress. Open south porch. Clock of 1863 on east gable of nave and sundial dated 1822 replaces earlier on south chancel wall.

Interior: Nave of 3 bays, C12 with chevroned and cable moulded chancel arch, on scalloped caps, and C13-C14 three-bay arcades of 4-centred arches on octagonal columns. Simple chamfered tower arch to C13 tower, the chamfers with small trefoiled gable stops. Open C19 timber roof. Chancel C14 rework of Romanesque chancel extending it to east. Nave moulded arch on north to chapel, now organ chamber. Squints to aisles. C19 roof. East window 1862-3 by Galpin of Oxford.

Fittings: Font: C13 inverted column base on possible Roman capital as base, reset in C19. Pulpit: Mid C17 half-octagon oak with arcaded panelling. Altar table 1627 with stretchers between turned legs and carved fasciae. Organ by A.E. Pease of London. Other fittings C19. Furnishings, C18 brass candelabra and oak document chest. Church was further restored in 1908 and 1963-4 before redundancy in 1981. Parish amalgamated with St. Sampson’s 1952. Excavations of 1964 suggest that the north chapel walls are founded on Anglo-Saxon work associated with the town wall. (Thomson & Taylor in W.A.M 60 (1965), 75 and 61 (1966) 38.f.)

Listing NGR: SU1012893865

Gate piers


Piers, C19. Square limestone ashlar. Blind cusped gablets and cast iron lamp overthrow. Linked by limestone rubble wall to east end and continued beyond to No.60 (formerly Rectory) with another pier. Railings removed.

Listing NGR: SU1013693849

Churchyard cross


Churchyard Cross. C14. Limestone. Stepped stone plinth. Octagonal base with chamfered top. Octagonal shaft with head of niches to four sides, each with cusped ogee top containing figures on corbelled base, representing the Crucifixion, St. Mary, a Bishop with unidentified figure, and 2 figures. (Ancient Monument: Wiltshire No.680).

Listing NGR: SU1013793854



Pair of chest tombs. C17 and early C18. To north, cyma table and base. Scrolled end brackets. Incised panels on sides with scrolls around. Inscription not legible. To south, chest tomb with moulded table and base. Recessed corner balusters. To JOHN HINTON, died 1792.

Listing NGR: SU1011593863

Heritage Details

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1300

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed