Gloucestershire Places of Worship

St Ethelbert's Church, Littledean (1) (60k) St Ethelbert's Church, Littledean (2) (59k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie
St Ethelbert's Church, Littledean
St Ethelbert's Church (see later for their website address)
Church Street,
Littledean, 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 12th century, and we understand it is still open.

St Ethelbert's church is a Listed Building - see the British Listed Buildings website for details. Their account covers its essential architectural features, in particular recording two "mass dials" on the south face of the building, adjacent to the porch, and the fact that a former steeple blew down in 1894. What are, presumably, the remains of the latter can be seen on our photographs, on top of the tower.

The King's England series for Gloucestershire, by Arthur Mee (publication date unknown, probably 1950s provides a rather more colourful account:

"The church is mostly 600 years old with a 15th century tower and chapel. There are two scratch dials on the porch. The chancel arch is 13th century but has massive Norman pillars whose capitals are decorated with shamrock. The old roodloft has gone, but its existence is suggested by an outside window. Above the tower arch is an opening for the bellringer to see into the nave to ring the bell warning the congregation in pre-Reformation days to kneel at the elevation of the Host. The old oak roofs have carved bosses of roses."

His account also mentions a rare possession - an altar cloth with embroidered figures of saints, "probably a vestment worn by some dignitary of Flaxley Abbey".

Mee's 'scratch dials' were, presumably the 'mass dials' referred to by the British Listed Buildings site. These were the primitive "time tellers", used from Saxon times for indicating times of liturgical services. They are believed to predate sundials, both of which were eventually succeeded by mechanical clocks, which began to make their appearance during the 14th century.

In turn, St Ethelbert's Church Clock, set in the west wall of the tower, has its own degree of notoriety. The face of the clock, inscribed with Roman Numerals, has a second "IX" (9) where the "XI"th (11) hour should be. This can be seen on a photograph of "the place where it's never 11 o'clock" on the Geograph website. An article providing more information on Mass Dials may be found on the Building Conservation Society website.


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 SO6721813573. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

(NB I know the first two don't work as intended - the Jury's still out as to what to do about it...)


I have found many websites of use whilst compiling the information for this database. Here are some which deserve mention as being of special interest for Littledean, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.
Information last updated on 24 Dec 2015 at 11:09.

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This Report was created 12 Nov 2018 - 14:50:02 GMT from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 11 Nov 2018 at 15:28.

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