South Cerney, All Hallows Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 12th century doorway and wooden crucifix model
- 12th-century doorway
- AD 1130 Crucifix
- 1634 parish chest
- John Jones memorial, 1801
- Norman north doorway
- Medieval tombs in the churchyard
South Cerney is a pretty village at the edge of the Cotswold Water Park. The parish church of All Hallows dates to the 12th century, though it probably stands on the site of an earlier Saxon building. A fragment of a Saxon cross shaft was found in the churchyard, but no trace of the building survives.
The oldest part of the present church is the Norman tower, built around AD 1150 beside the manor house. A spire was added to the tower in the 13th century, but this was struck by lightning in 1857 and taken down.
The beautifully carved south doorway is also 12th century. It features four moulded arches, each carved with a different pattern. The inner arch has intricate interlace patterns, while the second arch is carved with grotesque figures of beasts. Over the arch is a niche holding a worn carving of Christ in Glory and the Harrowing of Hell.
The chancel dates to the 14th century, and you can see a worn wall painting on the east wall. The large east window has beautiful Decorated Gothic tracery and the glass was installed in memory of WLR Sutton. Set into the south wall is a double piscina, and on the wall near the priest's door is a corbel in the shape of a male head. Another head is incorporated into the double sedilia, under a beautifully carved ogee canopy.
Most of the remainder of the church is Victorian, restored by JP St Aubyn from 1862, when the pews and south aisle were added. On the west wall is a memorial to Walter Portlock, who died in 1701 at the age of 100.
By far the most interesting memorials, however, are outside in the churchyard, where you can see a late medieval; tomb chest topped by effigies of a man and woman. another grave slab is carved with a late medieval floriated cross, possibly suggesting it is the grave of a clergyman.
The South Cerney Wood Crucifix
The most interesting historic feature in the church is a carved head and foot of Christ, part of a 12th-century crucifix; the oldest wooden crucifix in Britain. The original pieces are on loan to the British Museum in London, and what we can see here are polyester resin copies. The crucifix pieces were discovered in 1913, hidden in the north-east wall of the nave. we can only guess that they were hidden at the height of the Reformation, to avoid them being destroyed.
The size and shape of the head and foot suggest that the entire crucifix was about 80cm (2'8") high. Traces of gesso show that the crucifix was brightly painted. The crucifix was probably carved around AD 1130. The head of Christ was featured in an exhibition of Romanesque art at the Hayward Gallery in London as one of the finest pieces of Romanesque art in Britain.
The church was open when we visited, and as far as we can tell is normally open to visitors daylight hours. Near the church, at the end of Silver Street, stands St Edward's College, founded by Anne Edwards in 1834.
About South Cerney, All Hallows Church
Address: Church Lane, South Cerney, Gloucestershire, England, GL7 5TT
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Website: South Cerney, All Hallows Church
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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12th century (Time Period) - 13th century (Time Period) - 14th century (Time Period) - Decorated (Architecture) - grave slab (Architecture) - Medieval (Time Period) - Norman (Architecture) - Reformation (Historical Reference) - Saxon (Time Period) - Victorian (Time Period) - wall painting (Historical Reference) -
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
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