Church of St Nicholas of Myra

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This is in the depths of rural Gloucestershire, well away from main roads and set in a narrow valley. You need to work hard to find this church. It is set in the grounds of Ozelworth house and reached along a steep bridle path which drops down the sides of a wooded valley and through the grounds.

It is a lovely small Norman church set in a circular graveyard with a tall wall round it. The central tower is unusual as it is hexagonal and has a low pyramidal roof. The church has nave, chancel and south porch.

Inside the porch is a lovely wooden door with big decorative hinges and fancy handle. On either side round pillars with carved capitals support a big round arch with a most unusual semi-circle design with scallop shells.

The church is tiny inside and was restored and enlarged in the 19thC. It feels dark inside as it still has the small Norman lancet windows.

Walls are whitewashed plaster and there is a wooden beam ceiling. On the floor are Victorian encaustic tiles.

There is the remains of a coffin at the west end and two of the old pews. The 13thC font is described as ‘rustic’ and has raised ribs around the bowl and bands of star carvings.

The transept arch also has unusual carvings which can best be described as interlaced chevrons supported on small wall pillars with carved capitals and bases.

In the crossing is the wood pulpit on a stone base, a pianola, an old chest and the stairs to the long gone rood loft.

The chancel arch in comparison is very plain and has a framed painting of the Annunciation above it.

The chancel has a wooden roof with carved bosses. There are two choir stalls. The altar has carved arches on the base and a mosaic Agnes Dei in the centre. Behind is a small marble reredos with a mosaic crucifix in the centre with the four evangelists set on a gold mosaic background. The wall above the stained glass east window is painted red. On either side are embroidered Victorian wall hangings. These are bright red with lilies embroidered on them. Along the top is “Holy Holy Holy” on the left side and “Lord God of Host” on the right. Between the lilies are green bands with white flowers. At he base of the hangings is a diagonal pattern on a green background.

On the walls are memorials to the Clutterbucks from Newark Park.

This is a most unusual church. It is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and unlike many properties looked after by them is very much loved and cared for. When we arrived, the floor had recently been washed and was still damp. The damp tiles glowed. It isn’t the easiest of churches to find. Ozelworth isn’t marked on road atlases. You need OS 1:50,000 map.

There is parking in a cleared area off the road by the grand entrance to Ozelworth park. It is then a 5-10minute walk down a steep path and through the grounds of the hall to the church. It is worth finding though as it is completely different.

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