Gloucestershire Places of Worship

We have 1 Image St Mary Magdalene's Church (formerly St Christopher), Baunton Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Alf Beard
St Mary Magdalene's Church (formerly St Christopher), Baunton
St Mary Magdalene's Church (formerly St Christopher),
Downs Way,
Baunton, 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.

Various online sources state that the Church of Baunton was founded by the Augustine canons of Cirencester Abbey about 1150 as a chapel of ease. There is no mention of this in the account of the Abbey in the Victoria County History series: A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 2: Houses of Augustinian Canons: The Abbey of Cirencester (1902), pp.79-84; but it does not seem unreasonable.

Certainly by the time of compilation of Samuel Rudder's A New History of Gloucestershire (1779) it is stated to have been an impropriation in the deanery of Cirencester, worth £10 a year to the curate, and formerly belonging to the abbey. Rudder also reports that the "burying" ground was first consecrated in 1625 by the then Bishop of Gloucester, Dr. Godfrey Goodman - "before which time the inhabitants buried at Cirencester".

At the beginning of Rudder's century (1700) there were 18 houses and about 70 inhabitants in the parish; whilst from 1700-1709 there were 15 baptisms and 7 burials; and from 1760-1769 30 baptisms and 21 burials.

Ralph Bigland, in Volume I of his collection of Monumental Inscriptions of Gloucestershire, published in 1791, cites Baudington, or Pennington as aliases, and records that Baunton benefice was granted to the family of George, "from whom it descended, by Purchase, with the Manor and its Demenses, to the Masters, of Cirencester".

The return to the Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/340/2/1/1) records a church with 53 free sittings, and 24 other sittings and a congregation, on March 30th of 23 in the morning, and 52 attendees in the afternoon, with 46 and 45 Sunday Scholars respectively. The return was completed by George J. Master, the perpetual curate of the parish.

By the time of publication of Kelly's Directory of 1897, there were 130 sittings. The Church of St Christopher, as it was then called is described as "a small building of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of a nave only and a western belfry containing 2 bells". When it was restored in 1877 "a curious fresco of the patron saint, with a defaced inscription above, was discovered on the north wall of the nave". The living, in 1897, was a vicarage, annexed to the rectory of Stratton, in the gift of Thomas W. Chester Master esq. and held since 1888 by the Rev. Edward Henry Ball M.A. of Sidney Sussex Collage, Cambridge. Thomas William Chester Master esq. "of the Abbey, Cirencester" was lord of the manor, and sole landowner.

By the time of publication of Kelly's Directory of 1923, the living remained in the gift of the Chester-Master family, and the Rev. Ball remained incumbent. He is also mentioned in the following decade, when Arthur Mee's The King's England for Gloucestershire was published, in a description of the fresco:

"The painting faces us as we go in, and is of striking proportions. It shows a figure of St Christopher striding across a landscape in which we see many delightful details: a church among trees, a windmill with a round tower, a church spire beneath a lofty arch, traces of houses, a small figure in white sitting on the bank, and a lifelike and spirited steed rather like a Shetland pony driven about the parish by Canon Edward Ball, the rector we found here completing his half-century among the villagers"

Some time after compilation of Kelly's Directory of 1914, the church acquired its present dedication, to St Mary Magdalene. It would be intriguing to discover the reason for the change!

The parish registers date from 1625.

There may be more information available by by selecting one or more of the accompanying images on the right.


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 SP0217204677. 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 Baunton, 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 13 Feb 2018 at 08:54.

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This Report was created 9 Aug 2022 - 21:54:51 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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