Woolstone - St Martin de Tours
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The leaning tower of Pisa gets more attention, but the little Gloucestershire village of Woolstone has its own leaning tower. The battlemented 15th century tower of the parish church of St Martin de Tours is said to lean at a greater angle than its more famous Italian counterpart. The lean is not a result of poor medieval construction, but rather it is down to the underlying geologic structure of Crane Hill, which has a high level of clay, making it subject to unpredictable shifts over time.
So pronounced did the leaning tower become that Italian engineers were called in, and in 1970 they inserted a number of long steel rods set in concrete beneath the tower. The rods were criss-crossed to spread the load, and went down to a depth of up to 40 feet. There is no evidence of this mechanical underpinning visible, but it must have worked, for the tower is still standing - and it is still leaning!
In 1471 the forces of the Lancastrians and Yorkists met in the bloody Battle of Tewkesbury. The terrible conflict saw the defeat of the Lancastrian army, and many of their soldiers were forced to flee the battlefield. Two soldiers fled here, to Woolstone, pursued closely by a group of their foes, and the soldiers sought the safety of the church. According to the custom of the time, the church was holy ground, and anyone claiming sanctuary here could not be harmed.
Woolstone is located just off the A435, turning uphill off the Gotherington road. The church is halfway up Crane Hill on the road through the village. There is limited parking along the road, but there is so little traffic this is unlikely to be a problem! Woolstone is a very small, peaceful village, with no through road.
Address: Woolstone, Cheltenham, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: In the centre of Woolstone village. Parking along the verge outside the church.
Photo Credit: David Ross
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
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Medieval (Time Period) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Nearest Accommodation to Woolstone: