The Churches

The earliest evidence of a Christian presence on this site in Bourton-on-the-Water goes back as far as 709AD when a wooden church was built on land donated by the local king, centred to the Abbey of Evesham.

1110 AD saw the construction of the first stone church of Norman design. Since then there have been several changes of appearance. Under the chancel (the east end of the church), there is a twelfth-century crypt, said to be connected by a tunnel to the Old Manor House across the High Street.

The only visible part of the old church is the chancel, built in 1328 by Walter de Burhton. The church was then dedicated to St Lawrence, a fourth century Christian martyr; his story is recorded on a window-ledge near the organ.

A drawing of 1780 shows the church with a central tower, between the nave (where the congregation sit) and the chancel. It shows the ‘Clapton Aisle, where the present porch is located; this was for residents of Clapton on the Hill during the period when their own ancient church of St James’ was for a time derelict. However, in 1784, the Norman church was largely replaced with one in the neo-classical style, with a new heavy tower with clock and bells, still standing today.

Further change came in the 1870’s with the construction of the present nave, followed by the North Aisle and St George’s chapel, now containing memorials to the dead of the two world wars of the twentieth century. This Victorian legacy includes the nave roof, said to be one of Gloucestershire’s finest examples of a king-post roof.

The twentieth century also left its mark with a fine painted ceiling in the chancel, and the ornate oak screen, separating the cancel from the nave. A very fitting contribution from a local poet and artist was added to the west wall at the time of the Millennium.

Today the parish Church remains the focus of a lively worshipping community in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, extending a warm welcome to visitors.