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St Lawrence Church
St Lawrence, Lechlade - geograph.org.uk - 1690239.jpg
Coordinates: 51°41′38″N 1°41′26″W / 51.69387°N 1.69043°W / 51.69387; -1.69043
Location Lechlade, Gloucestershire
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Website https://www.stlawrencelechlade.org.uk/
Architecture
Heritage designation Grade I listed building
Designated 26 November 1958
Completed 1476
Administration
Parish Lechlade
Benefice South Cotswold Team Ministry
Deanery Cirencester
Archdeaconry Cheltenham
Diocese Diocese of Gloucester
Clergy
Vicar(s) Dr Andrew Cinnamond
Laity
Organist/Director of music Anne Margaret Crow
Director of music Rachel Bath
Organist(s) Anne Margaret Crow
Churchwarden(s) Richard Bell and Susan Holmes

The Anglican St Lawrence Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence of Rome, is the Church of England parish church of Lechlade in Gloucestershire, England. The church building is Grade I listed and is described with admiration in Simon Jenkins's England’s Thousand Best Churches.

The current church was built on the site of an earlier one and was completed in 1476. The roof and parts of the structure were replaced following a fire in the early 16th century. Various refurbishments have been undertaken since, including the installation of a gallery in 1740. Percy Bysshe Shelley composed a poem afer visiting the churchyard in 1815.

The church is notable for its eight-sided spire above the tower. The internal fixtures and fittings include a brass chandelier, 13th century piscina and carvings including the figure of the martyrdom of St Agatha.

History

A church is known inferentially to have existed in Lechlade since at least 1210 when a fair was granted on St. Lawrence's day.

The present wool church replaced an earlier structure in 1476, funded by the dissolution of Lechlade Priory and local townspeople. The dedication of the church was originally to St Mary but changed in 1510 by Katherine of Aragon.

The nave roof and clerestory, the north porch, and the tower and spire may have been added in the early 16th century following a fire in 1510. A west gallery for singers was installed in 1740 and there were further internal additions in the 1880s.

Literature

Lechlade Church (Saint Lawrence) (29616714907)
The interior of the church

In September 1815 Percy Bysshe Shelley visited Lechlade with his future wife Mary, her step-brother Charles Clairmont, and the novelist Thomas Love Peacock, and was moved to compose a poem, A Summer-Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire, which was published the following year. The path through the churchyard is now named “Shelley’s Walk”, in a tribute to the famous atheist.

Community

The Vicar is Dr Andrew Cinnamond. The church has strong links with the nearby St Lawrence Church of England Primary School.

The parish of Lechlade is part of the South Cotswold Team Ministry benefice within the Diocese of Gloucester.

Architecture

Lechlade Church (Saint Lawrence) (30684418298)
St Agatha

The church is of dressed freestone from Taynton Quarry near Burford. It consists of a nave with clerestorey, four-bay aisles, north porch, north and south chancel chapels and chancel with a vestry on the north side. The three-stage west tower is supported by diagonal buttresses and topped with angle pinnacles, embattled parapet and an eight-sided spire. The bells in the tower are of various ages; the oldest of which is from 1590. The peal was rehung in 1911 when a new treble added, and again in 1966.

Fittings and fixtures

Some of the fittings including the 13th century piscina, font and the figure of St Agatha in the north aisle are from the earlier church on the site. St Agatha is sculpted with a sword through her depictng the nature of her martyrdom. The brass chandelier hanging from the ceiling is from 1730, and is inscribed "the gift of Mr Richard Ainge". The pulpit was added in 1882 but the base on which it stands is much older and was found in the vicarage garden.

There are some medieval brasses and marble monuments. Under the stained glass east window is a wooden reredos with a carving of Agnus Dei.

Graveyard

The graveyard is now closed for burials, with modern burials taking place in the town cemetery, but it includes many gravestones dating back hundreds of years. Chest tombs include those to William Hobbs, Ann Lambert, William Giles, Sarah Pace, Henry Yeatman, Thomas and John Walker, William Gearing, Mary Sophia Matthews, Thomas Hipsley, Mary Anne Walker, John Raven, William and Elizabeth Hobbs, Thomas Andrews, John Taylor, William and Thomas Hall and multiple unidentified monuments.

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