Touching place

St Mary and St Saviour, Tetbury

At the centre of fashionable hunting country, the distant view of the town is dominated by the tower and spire of St Mary's. By the late 18th c. the mediaeval church was in a bad way; it was replaced in 1781 by an elegant Georgian Gothic church, except for the tower and spire, themselves rebuilt in 1891. The Warwick architect, Francis Hiorne, achieved a real coup with the lofty nave and its slender Gothic tracery, introducing an unusual covered ambulatory on three sides, accessing the box pews from outside the nave rather than from a central aisle. The three-decker and reading desk have gone, and the east end doesn't quite 'fit', but stand at the east of the nave seating and turn west to admire the ensemble with three galleries, and the magnificent brass chandeliers.  

Now leave St Mary's, past the typical Cotswold tombchests in the churchyard,crosstheroad,and head west. In 1848 a young Tractarian curate inspired the building of a new church with all seats free, so that poor Tetbury people could attend. A local architect named S.W. Daukes called in

Pugin and Hardman to help build little towerless St Saviour's in the favourite Middle-pointed style of the Ecclesiologists.

Today it is a redundant gem, scarcely altered from the days of Fr Lowder, retaining just one altar (as Tractarians wished); its Minton tiles round the font and in the sanctuary; and Hardman's splendid gasolier. Look for the reredos and chancel roof by Pugin and Hardman; don't miss the symbolic dove counterweight to the font cover. As you go, spot the alms box built into the jamb of S door, also the engraving of Fr Lowder.

Remember Fr Lowder who moved to St Peter's London Docks to spend his life in the service of Christ's poor. Pray that we may recapture more of the spirit of the early Tractarians. OS ref: ST889930

Simon Cotton

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