Gloucestershire Places of Worship

We have 4 Images St Mary the Virgin's Church, Fretherne (1) (116k) St Mary the Virgin's Church, Fretherne (2) (84k) St Mary the Virgin's Church, Fretherne (3) (89k) St Mary the Virgin's Church, Fretherne (4) (73k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Alf Beard/John Williams
St Mary the Virgin's Church, Fretherne
St Mary the Virgin's Church,
GL2 7JF,
Fretherne, 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 13th century, and we understand it is still open.

Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire of 1923 describes Fretherne as a small village, on the river Severn and near the Gloucester and Berkeley canal, 5 miles north-west from Frocester station on the Bristol and Birmingham section of the Midland railway and 11 south-west from Gloucester. The church of St Mary the Virgin, consecrated in 1847, is "a building of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, aisles, north porch and a tower, with crocketed pinnacles and spire, supported by flying buttresses and containing a clock and 2 bells". There is a chapel in the south aisle, erected in memory of Sir Edward Tierney bart. in 1857, and also another side chapel. The east window is stained, and there is a memorial window to Sir Harry Francis Colville Darell bart. who died in 1853. Above the altar table is a fine pyrographic picture executed by the Rev. W. Calvert, sometime minor canon of St Paul's, and representing the Saviour revealing himself to the disciples at Emmaus. The major portion of the cost, of about £2,500, was contributed by the late Rev. Sir William Lionel Darell bart. M.A. rector of the parish from 1844 to 1878, who died in June 1883.

The parish records date from 1631. In 1923, the living was a rectory, in the gift of Major Sir Lionel Edward Hamilton M. Darell bart. D.S.O., D.L., J.P. and had been held since 1918 by the Rev. Alfred Creswick Oliver M.A. of Exeter College, Oxford.

In more recent times, an article in the Gloucester Citizen Weekend section (13 Nov 2014) recorded how villagers have rescued the Church from a threatened closure in 2006, beginning a 'Friends of Fretherne Church' group to foster the upkeep of the building. One of their projects involves offering snacks to visitors on the first Saturday of the month, with the option of providing refreshments at other times to pre-arranged groups; and a regular Sunday community roast lunch, served in the Church.

The building, known locally as 'Cathedral in the Vale', is the third to stand on a site that has been in use since the 13th century. It was designed by Francis Niblett, a local architect from Haresfield. He was a great admirer of Pugin's decorative style, and "did not stint on lavish window tracery, buttresses, parapets, gables and a distinctive 'crocketed' spire". Angels can be seen throughout the interior, and "the colours of the floor tiles are matched by the painted casement of the organ, the lilies decorating the ceiling of the chancel and the vibrant stained glass windows".

The inscription, shown on our third photograph, of the wall plaque of the angel bearing a shield, reads:

This South Aisle was erected
and the whole Church
adorned and beautified by
The Revd. Sir W. Lionel Darell, Bart. M.A.
Rector of the Parish and
Dame Harriet Mary his Wife
A.D. 1857

To find out more about St Mary's, and about Fretherne itself (its "Parish Profile"), you may wish to visit its webpage on the website of the Severnside Benefice.

See also "Fretherne with Saul, Church of St Mary" on the British Listed Buildings 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 SO7337409156. 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 Fretherne, 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 27 Jan 2019 at 14:29.

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Further Information

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This Report was created 8 Aug 2022 - 02:27:30 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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