St Saviour's Church Coalpit Heath

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    Early History | Our Building | The Interior | The Architect | Vicars and Wardens

The Building

William Butterfield submitted his drawings for a church at Coalpit Heath to The Church Building Society some time before May 1844. His design concept was based upon mediaeval churches of the early Decorated style of the late 13th, early 14th century and modelled upon the Cotswold vernacular tradition. It was in the style described as Early English Decorated of about 1300 or Middle Pointed Gothic.

Butterfield had to submit his plans more than once. The Society architect, J.H. Good, criticised the early versions, provoking Butterfield to write "I really do not understand Mr. Good's objection. I can only suppose that he has never examined our old churches, from which source alone information and experience in such matters can be obtained".

Finally on 2nd July 1844 Good wrote "I see no objection to the proposed construction of this Building as shown by the plans now submitted by Mr. Butterfield".

Walls and Roof

The walls are of local stone (probably Winterbourne Down), rubble, with Bath stone quoins, dressings and columns. At the time of this building most Bath stone came from the Combe Down quarries. It was not until the Box tunnel was excavated for the railway that the Corsham stone was discovered and exploited. The foundations are of concrete 6 feet deep.

The roof is covered in Welsh slate, with exposed stained timber rafters, resting on purlins, the main trusses being supported on projecting corbels.

The Bells

The original plan for the church showed seating accommodation for 500 people, which included seats in the area now used as the belfry before it was separated off by a wall and doors. The intention was to build the tower in two stages, topped by a spire, but when the building reached it's present height it was decided not to proceed with the spire 'for the time being'.

It was in 1921 that the original Peal of Four Bells was installed, celebrating Peace after the First World War; the bells now comprise the 5th, 6th, 7th and Tenor (8th) bells of the present eight. Of these the 5th was given by George Edwin Newman, then Churchwarden, in memory of his wife Rosina, whilst the other three were provided and installed by public subscriptions.

In 1922 a new bell was given by the children of The Manor School (now The Manor C of E Primary School, just across the road) completing a Peal of Five and again in 1923 another new bell was given in memory of Henry Hewitt of Serridge House, the residence standing at the far end of Henfield Road, thus completing a Peal of Six.

The interest and generosity of the Newman family was again evident in 1974-5 when another bell was given (the second of the present eight) in memory of Alice Annie and William George Newman. Albert Spencer Newman, Churchwarden in 1921, was the younger brother of William George. It is a happy sequence of events Graham Newman who was organist in the 1970s is a Great Grandson of William Newman who also served our church as organist. Alice Annie will be remembered also as Sunday School Superintendent.

Another benefactor, Mr Ivor Nichols, provided our present treble bell to complete the eight at the same date, 1974-5. This bell was named "Oxbridge" as this was the name of the farm on the Badminton Road, near Mays Hill, which was the family home.

The Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, the Very Reverend Gilbert Thurlow, himself a talented change ringer, officiated at the dedication service in 1975.

The bells had inscriptions on them and were described as follows:

  • Tenor (8th), Weight 10cwts, note G, Inscription: For Victory and For Peace after War 1914 - 1918, E.J. Philips, M.A., Vicar, A.S. Newman & G.E. Newman, Churchwardens, Cast 1921 Taylor Foundry Mark
  • Seventh, Weight 7cwts, Note A, Inscription: Taylor Foundry Mark 1921
  • Sixth, Weight 5¾cwts, Note B, Inscription: Taylor Foundry Mark 1921,
  • Fifth, Weight 4¾cwts, Note C, Inscription: (Engraved plate on headstock) George Edwin Newman, Churchwarden gave this bell 1921, in Memory of his Wife Rosina Newman who died 19th October 1920
  • Fourth - Weight 3¾cwts, Note D, Inscription: The Thankoffering of the Manor School Children, (W.J. Coombes, Headmaster), 1921, Taylor Foundry Mark. This bell was installed in 1922 and some of us who began our education at the Manor School may still remember Mr Coombes with affection, as he was headmaster until the mid 1940s.
  • Third - Weight 3¼cwts, Note E, Inscription: To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of the Hewitt Family of Serridge House, who are buried in this Churchyard. This bell is given by the Daughters and Grand-daughters of Henry Hewitt, 1922, Taylor Foundry Mark. This bell was installed in 1923
  • Second - Weight 3cwts 22lbs, Note F#, Inscription: 'NEWMAN' In Memory of Alice Annie and William George Newman, The Gift of their Children. Taylor Foundry Mark 1974, K.F. Dimoline Vicar.
  • Treble (1st) - Weght 3cwts, Note G, Inscription: 'OXBRIDGE' Given by Ivor Nichols in Memory of His Wife, Parents and Grandparents. Taylor Foundry Mark 1974, William F. Scudamore Tower Master. This bell was named 'Oxbridge' as this is the name of the farm on the Badminton Road near Mays Hill, which was the family home.

There have been many interesting personalities and notable achievements connected with our Church, it's Tower and Bells, as various brass plaques around the building tell. In the tower the are a number of larger plaques giving details of various occasions when special peals have been rung. William (Fred) Scudamore, originally oversaw the running of the tower 1948-54 and then took over as Tower Captain in 1969, a job he carried on doing for over 40 years, until he died suddenly in 2010. His son Keith is now the Captain. The bellringers are well known for their successful competition ringing and can be heard practising from 7.45 p.m. on Monday evenings. If you are interested in learning to ring bells, you are welcome to join them. Contact Keith for more information.

The Lych Gate

The stone built Lych Gate, designed by the architect with a single gate for pedestrians and a double gate for special occasions, is a principal landmark of Coalpit Heath. The oak gates were made by the boys of The Manor School (now The Manor C of E Primary School), across the Badminton Road from the Church. The Lych Gate is a grade II* listed building - see the links on the 'links' page in the History and Architecture section.

    Early History | Our Building | The Interior | The Architect | Vicars and Wardens

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