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The setting up of most church buildings is conjectural but it is assumed that they owe their origin to the local Saxon theign or Norman lord. The majority have a pre-Conquest foundation which has become lost in records etc. This gives the impression that the church building is a Norman institution and that the Saxons lacked culture and religion, as exemplified in the stories of King Arthur. Some sites mark the meeting and burial places of earlier religions and races; notably the Celts and Romans. The attitude of the conquerors was one of ‘inclusion not exclusion’, practised in turn by the Saxons and later the Normans. The site of the church of St. Mary de Lode, in Gloucester, is a good example of a site used by Celts, Romans, Saxons and Normans.

Within the Gloucestershire of today parish churches can be found on top of a hill (Churchdown), on the edge of an escarpment (Saintbury, Old Sodbury), by the side of a river (Upper Swell, Newnham-on-Severn, Minsterworth), adjacent to a castle (Beverstone, Berkeley, Thornbury, Brimpsfield), within a castle mounds (English Bicknor), within an ancient circular boundary (Ozleworth, Frocester), at crossroads (St. Michael at Gloucester Cross), within the centre of a settlement (Prestbury), on the outskirts of the village (Quenington) or even in isolation since the settlement has moved (Pauntley, Oddington) and rarely, where the site has been de-consecrated, the ‘church’ is now a dwelling place (Cow Honeybourne, Newington Bagpath).

Several churches are redundant and in the care of the Church Preservation Trust. Some churches, initially built in one county are now in another county, following minor county boundary changes during both the 19th and 20th centuries.


As both times and civilization developed so did the skills used in building. The Romans built permanent structures but their retreat left a vacuum which was filled with Germanic tribes in much of northern Europe. In Britain they were predominantly Anglo-Saxons. They converted to Christianity and built their churches, developed law and order and eventually learnt to live in peace with marauding Vikings and so introduced the Saxon Age. We know of some, Bede, Alfred the Great, Guthrum and Harold.

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The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933

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Last modified: 06 June 2015