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Church Spire

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Westbury on Severn Church

The extraordinarily large church at Westbury dates from about 1300, (not earlier than 1300 according to Pevsner). The aisle arcades are of seven bays, those on the north with a decided lean outwards. A south window bears the legend, “this church was built ad 1530”, which is misleading.  It is more likely that the south arcade was pulled down and rebuilt, the pillars not only straight but slightly higher.The chancel was drastically restored in the 19th century, but contains earlier memorials.

Among the interesting fittings is a fine pair of brass chandeliers, probably made in Bristol about 1730. There is also a carved pedestal to the font bearing the Arms of Elizabeth I and dated 1583. One window sill contains a rose piscina and the porch has scratched crusader crosses and part of a medieval stone coffin.There is a fine collection of Victorian stained glass windows by well known firms such as Clayton and Bell, Kemps and Tower, Powells etc.The church is dedicated to St Peter, St Paul and  St Mary. Originally a chapel to St Mary stood against the tower, subsequently becoming the village school. When this was taken down in 1862 St Mary was added to the others.The detached tower is of great interest as it was built about 1270 as a garrison or watch tower to guard the river.  The spire was added in the 14th century and is made entirely of wood. Looking up inside it resembles a giant spider’s web of timber. The tower contains six bells, they were the heaviest ring of six in Gloucestershire. Removed in 2011 with hands-on help of local ringers, by Whites of Appleton, tuned at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, re-furbished by Whites then re-hung and re-dedicated early in 2012. This work was mostly funded by the Centenary Big Lottery Fund, when local ringers won their televised heat to net £60,000 to add to their own efforts. Westbury Church is opened daily.

(GPO and Ordinance Survey references  GL14 1PD / OS ref  717142)

IN-SPIRING SITE 

 

Three years of fundraising, meetings, planning, sifting through quotations and decision making have finally come to fruition and the evidence is visible for miles around. For two months the architect designed  scaffolding  

has crept up the spire of our historic church until it finally reached the summit. The spire, a thing of beauty itself, became an object of added interest back in 2013 when a team of mountaineers known as the ‘Wallwalkers’, using only ropes and ladders, removed the weathervane. Once again we have watched fascinated, as the web of steelwork embraced the 160 foot high structure. 

The contractors, Splitlath of Hay-on-Wye, say that the job of replacing the 35,000 wooden shingles, will take four months, with a further two months to dismantle the scaffolding. The new wooden shingles, which will be fastened using either copper or stainless steel nails, are fashioned from French oak and are predicted to last at least 100 years. The existing shingles were installed in 1938, but appear to be of inferior quality. 

The total cost of the renewal is around £600,000, of which some £200,000 is for the scaffolding. The money has been raised from a number of sources, including Bruce Richardson’s fund raising team and Church funds (£18,000), Historic England (£426,000), the National Churches Trust (£40,000), ENTRUST (£26,000), recovery of VAT (£90,000). Bruce has confirmed that parishioners (and other interested parties) are more than welcome to contribute while the work goes on.  


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