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St. Nicholas' Church

The delightful little Church of St. Nicholas stands adjoining Ozleworth Park, isolated in a deep-sided Gloucestershire valley. There is no village and the population of the parish has never been more than 150. Yet this tiny building is one of the most architecturally fascinating places of worship in the country.

It stands within a large circular churchyard - generally a sign of an ancient religious site. It is thought that such enclosures represent the walling-in of Pagan Celtic 'Sacred Groves' which were later taken over by Roman Christians. There may have been a wooden Saxon church here as a charter of AD 940 mentions church land in the parish.

The original Norman building - consisting of the present chancel and irregular polygonal tower - was built by Roger De Berkeley in the early 12th century and granted to his foundation at Leonard Stanley Priory. The nave was added in the 1220s, almost doubling the size of the church, and the elaborate chevron decorated tower arch was inserted at this time.

The interior boasts a nice 13th century font and there is an interesting reminder of the lost rood screen. The stairway to the musicians' gallery is on the north side of the chancel. It has been fitted into the thickness of the wall and considerably weakens the structure at this point! There are few other notable features, but the whole effect is absolutely charming.

The Church is owned and opened to the public by the Churches Conservation Trust. Admission free, but donations welcome.

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