Gloucestershire Places of Worship

We have 2 Images Abbey of St Mary & St Kenelm (Demolished), Winchcombe (1) (67k) Abbey of St Mary & St Kenelm (Demolished), Winchcombe (2) (57k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Google Digitization
Abbey of St Mary & St Kenelm (Demolished), Winchcombe
Abbey of St Mary & St Kenelm (Demolished),
Abbey Terrace,
Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.


This Church 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 797, but we understand it was closed before 1539.

Winchcombe's former Benedictine Abbey was founded in 797 by Kenulf, King of Mercia, on the site of a nunnery built by his father King Offa, in 787. It was dedicated to St Mary and to his son St Kenelm, martyr. It was refounded by Oswald, Archbishop of York, in 985; and in 1398, under Abbot William Bradley, it became a mitred abbey - a papal honour, which allowed him and his successors to adopt papal regalia (mitre, ring and staff), "and to give the solemn benediction provided a bishop was not present" [quoting Norton Priory (Cheshire) on Wikipedia, which in turn quotes Dugdale's Monasticon, ii, 300]

At its dissolution there were 26 monks and 90 servants and officers, with revenue estimated at £750.

Evidently, in its early days, there was some contention between the Abbey in Winchcombe, and St Peter's Abbey in Gloucester. Revd. Thomas Fosbrooke, citing others in his An Original History of the City of Gloucester (1819), records that "it is said that, when Kenulphe founded the abbey of Winchcombe, that town was the best of the countre", and later, in discussion of a refounding of Gloucester Abbey by King Bernulf in 821:

"Bernulph ...introduced Secular Canons, who were preachers and clerks, many of them married men. Of these Canons very little is recorded, except a contention between them and the religious of Worcester, concerning the remains of the Saxon saint, Kenelm, son of Cenwulf, King of Mercia, who died in 812: Kenelm had been basely murdered by his sister Quendred, and according to the ancient custom alluded to by St Paul, miracles were pretended to have been wrought about his body. The acquisition of this corpse was therefore a profitable speculation in those days; and the dispute, says the Golden Legend, was settled in this extraordinary manner:- "Whan the body was above the erthe, there fylle a stryfe bytwene theym of Worcettershyre and Glocetreshyre, who sholde have this body. And thenne a full good man was there amonge them gave conseylle yt all the peple sholde lye downe, and slepe and reste theym. For the weder was thenne ryght bote. And wyche of the two shyres that God wolde shold fyrst awake, they to take this body and goo theyr waye. And all the peple aggreed thereto, and layd them downe to slepe. And it happed yt the Abbot of Wynchecombe and all his men awoke fyrst. And they toke up the holy body, and bare it forthe towarde Wynchecombe."
NB: sources vary as to when Kenulf (Coenwulf) died. He was succeeded by Ceolwulf, his brother, who in turn was succeeded by Benulph (Beornwulf). Some say this was in 821, others in 823.

Fosbrooke further records that Richard Mounslow, King's Chaplain, and last Abbot of Winchcombe was installed in 1546, was buried in St Peter's Abbey in Gloucester (now Gloucester Cathedral) in 1558.

Today, nothing of the Abbey in Winchcombe remains, but one of its abbots is remembered in the spandrels of the doorway of the George Inn by his initials - Richard Kyderminster, Abbot between 1488 and 1531.

The illustrations of the Abbey are taken from the book Annals of Winchcombe and Sudeley, by Emma Dent (1877), digitized by Google and available from The eBook and Texts Archive. [Other Sources: Kelly's Directory (1923), Revd. Thomas Dudley Fosbrooke, An Original History of the City of Gloucester (1819), and A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 2: Religious Houses (1988), pp.66-72 (The Abbey of Winchcombe)]


Now or formerly Benedictine.

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 was located at OS grid reference SP0237828248. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


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 Winchcombe, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.

The above links were selected and reviewed at the time I prepared the information, but please be aware their content may vary, or disappear entirely. These factors are outside my control.

Information last updated on 3 Dec 2018 at 16:31.

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This Report was created 22 May 2022 - 17:36:43 BST from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 13 Oct 2021 at 14:13.

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