St Mary’s Church

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Temple Guitting is a small village tucked away in the Windrush valley away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist Cotswolds.

The church was founded in 1170 by the Knights Templar who owned the Manor and a lot of land. They grew rich on the wool trade and when the order was disbanded in the early 14thC, their money was seized by the treasury and the church granted to Christ Church, Oxford.

The chancel is the oldest part of the church, dating from the 12thC. Below the roof is a corbel table with beautifully carved beasts, figures and grotesque heads. One has a Maltese Cross, the only evidence the Templars were connected with the church.

The rest of the church is later. At the west end is a square battlemented tower with short corner turrets. The nave and transepts are battlemented.

Between 1743-85, Rev George Talbot paid for a major restoration which explains the Georgian style windows in the nave and transepts and the Georgian door into the tower. He was also responsible for the plaster Royal Coat of Arms at the west end.

Inside, it is a fairly plain church with plastered walls and wood beam ceiling. Light floods through the large plain glass Georgian windows.

Visually the decalogue above the south door is the most impressive fitment in the church. After the Reformation, all churches had to display the Lord’s Prayer, Creed and Ten Commandments, as these were felt to be the only true foundations of the Christian Faith. The Royal Coat of Arms symbolised the legal power of the state over the church and was usually placed above the chancel arch, as can be seen here.

The splendid decalogue was placed over the east window and took up the whole of he east wall. It was removed in the 19thC and lay forgotten. It was discovered and carefully restored in 2004 and placed above the south door. The space could have been designed specially for it as it is a perfect fit. It is a beautiful bit of carving. All the gilding is original, indicating how glorious it must have looked when new.

The hatchment on the north wall is of Rev George Talbot. Below is the memorial to the dead of the 1914-18 war.

The three panels of medieval glass in the north window is part of a set of twelve. The rest were sold by the Talbot family to the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York for £5 in 1809.

The 15thC font is by the blocked north door.

On the north wall by the chancel arch is a small lancet window by Tom Denny in memory of Lord Butterworth, founder of Warwick university. Th image in shades of red and oranges is based on Psalm 111 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. At the base is the primordial universe. Above is a typical Cotswold scene with a figure, stone wall and gate.

This is a most attractive small church. There is little about it on the web. We were lucky as the Churchwarden was around and gave us a lot of the background. There is a lot to see and admire and it is worth searching out.

We parked on the road by the church. The parking at the end of the grassy drive to the church proclaims ‘reserved for clergy’.

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