Gloucestershire Places of Worship

We have 6 Images St Mary's Church, St Briavels (1) (79k) St Mary's Church, St Briavels (2) (65k) St Mary's Church, St Briavels (3) (87k) St Mary's Church, St Briavels (4) (77k) St Mary's Church, St Briavels (5) (57k) St Mary's Church, St Briavels (6) (80k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of John Williams/Alf Beard
St Mary's Church, St Briavels
St Mary's Church,
Church Street,
St Briavels, 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 before 1144, and we understand it is still open.

Kelly's Directory of 1923 describes St Mary's Church as "a cruciform building of stone in the Norman, Early English and later styles, consisting of chancel, transept, nave of five bays, with a clerestory on the south side, aisles, and an embattled tower, with pinnacles, containing 8 bells and a clock".

It is obvious from Google Satellite view that the church has an unusual plan, cruciform, but with the tower attached to the south side. Apparently the tower was sited originally at the intersection of the nave and transepts, but was rebuilt in 1830 in its present position. The British Listed Buildings website mentions that although the central tower was removed, "the heavy Norman crossing remains... with attached Norman columns, 4 of which have plain caps, and 4 with carved decoration".

As will be seen from our photographs, the east window is, I think, something special - described by the Listed Building website as "3-light plate tracery with sexfoil and small quatrefoils" - but this overlooks the unusual arrangement, and colouring. Mike Salter, in his booklet Parish Churches of The Forest of Dean (1990), says the glass is by Powell - presumably he means James Powell & Sons, also known as Whitefriars Glass.

Elsewhere in the church are remains of a monument, with recumbent effigies, to William Warren, 1573, and Mariana (Catchmay) his wife; and a Norman font, which sits on a shelf formed of sixteen scallops, over a shaft and octagonal base.

Historically, according to the Victoria County History series: A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean (1996), pp.247-271 (St Briavels) St Briavels church was a chapel to Lydney church for much of its history; and in 1086 and until the 1160s or later it was called Lydney or Little Lydney. The name St Briavels, their account says, is thought to derive from the Celtic saint Brieuc. In 1144 Baderon of Monmouth confirmed St Briavels church to Monmouth priory, a cell of St Florent abbey, a claim which was challenged by Lire abbey, to which Lydney belonged. This was resolved in 1216, when St Briavels church was included as a chapel of Lydney in the grant of Lydney church by Lire abbey to the dean and chapter of Hereford.

St Briavels had burial rights by 1282, but until 1859, when a separate benefice was created, it remained a chapel of ease of Lydney. It was apparently dedicated to St Briavels in the 12th century, but by 1471 was known as St Mary.

Its return to the Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/576/3/6/1) was completed by its Curate, John Lewis. He recorded an estimated attendance on 30 March of 175 worshippers in the morning, and 160 in the afternoon, with 40 and 46 Sunday School pupils respectively. There were no evening services. The church had sittings for 360, only 6 which were free.


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 SO5586704647. 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 St Briavels, 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 12 Aug 2018 at 09:15.

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This Report was created 22 May 2022 - 19:13:59 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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