Gloucestershire Places of Worship

St James the Great's Church, Dursley (1) (57k) St James the Great's Church, Dursley (2) (164k) St James the Great's Church, Dursley (3) (180k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie/J.H. Blunt
St James the Great's Church, Dursley
St James the Great's Church,
Silver Street / Long Street,
Dursley, Gloucestershire.


This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in the 15th century, and we understand it is still open.

St James the Great's Church is described by the British Listed Buildings website as a late medieval church, dating from the late 15th century, built as a replacement for an earlier church of 13-14th century. The tower dates from the 18th century (1707-9), by Thomas Sumsion of Colerne, and is a replacement for the medieval tower with spire, which collapsed on 7th January 1698/9. The costs of rebuilding the tower were met largely by a grant from Queen Anne. The church is Grade I Listed.

Of the early church, very little is said to remain. According to "Dursley and its neighbourhood; being historical memorials of Dursley, Beverston, Cam, and Uley" (1877), it is said to have consisted of a nave, with a lower roof than at present, a small chancel, and the tower and spire mentioned above. There is some doubt whether the present north and south aisles were additions, or replacements for smaller aisles. Both were built (or rebuilt) with chantry chapels at their eastern ends. The north aisle was called St Mary's Aisle, and its chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; that in the south aisle was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

The foundation of St Mary's Chantry is unknown, but that of the Holy Trinity is traditionally said to have been founded by Thomas Tanner, a merchant living in the middle of the 15th century. It is also recorded as such in the Churchwarden's accounts of the following century.

An article in the Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society - Notes on Tanner's Chapel in Dursley Church (1886-7) - casts doubt on this tradition, as Tanner was said to have died during the reign of Henry VI (1400-1413), and architectural evidence dates the present building from the start of the Tudor period, some 80 years later. In the following century, the official record of seizure of chantry properties (1547-8) records it as 'Trynyte Service', founded by 'dyuerse psons nott Knowen', so evidently this tells a different story to the Churchwarden's accounts!

The BGAS article does however provide more evidence of the earlier church, hinting of a building in which Thomas may have had a hand. It mentions carved corbels supporting the roof in the present building, which are of the "first pointed period, and can scarcely be later than 1325". These it likens to carved heads on the north side of the chancel arch in the church of Cogenhoe, Northamptonshire, built by Sir Nicholas de Cogenhoe (d.1280)

"In the various alterations of the church which occurred in medieval times, these corbels, which probably supported the roof of the chancel, were cast aside, perhaps when the second-pointed chancel was built, and the founders of the Chapel of the Holy Trinity utilised them in that structure".

The BGAS article also mentions a 'cadaverous effigy' inside the chapel, traditionally assigned to be of Thomas Tanner, which it likens to one at Westbury on Trym, of John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, who died in 1443. It is now headless, and "probably removed from some other part of the church". However in the apparent wish to deny Thomas Tanner any involvement with the chapel, there is no mention that this effigy too could have been transferred from the earlier church.

The incumbent of "Trynyte Service" at the time the property of the chantries was seized, was Sir John Coderyngton. He was then aged 80, and was dependent for his living on income from the service, then valued at £6-13s-4d. And "that parcel of the possessions appertaining to the abovesaid Service of the Trynity, being of yearly value of 40s. is claimed by one William Austen, alias Kerner, who brought before us a deed indented of bargain and sale, dated ... (1514) ... wherein it appeared that one William Austen, alias Kerner, father of the said William, bought the premises of one Morice Gilmyn, gent ... for the sum of £60..."

The incumbent of the Chantry of Our Lady was Richard Berye, then aged 58, "having a yearly stipend of 58s., also in the free Chapel of Tokyngton, in the parish of Olveston, of which Sir William Berkeley, Knt, was patron. The stipend here was £6-13s-4d."

To return to more recent times, St James's burial ground was closed in the late 1850s, and burials since then have taken place in the graveyard of St Mark's, in Woodmancote. [Sources: Dursley and its neighbourhood, in The Ebook and Texts Archive (from which the 2 illustrations are derived), and Notes on Tanner's Chapel in Dursley Church]


Now or formerly Church of England.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.


This Church is located at OS grid reference ST7569198114. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


  • Places recorded by the Registrar General under the provisions of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (2010) is available as a "Freedom of Information" document from the website What Do They Know.
Last updated on 10 Sep 2011 at 14:46.

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This Report was created 22 Sep 2018 - 04:20:07 BST from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 12 Aug 2018 at 11:37.

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