Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Stroud (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 86639 09653


C14 church with late C18 topiary lining the paths of its churchyard which contains one of England's finest collections of funerary monuments.


St Mary's was, and remains, the ancient parish church of Painswick. From the C12 to the Dissolution it was a possession of Lanthony Priory, Gloucestershire.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING St Mary's church stands in the centre of the small Cotswold town of Painswick. Its churchyard, 130m long from south-west to north-east and a maximum of 100m wide, is of c 1ha. The churchyard is bounded to the north-west by New Street, in part to the north-west by Victoria Street which turns off New Street, while the south-east corner is followed by the lane connecting Hale Lane and St Mary's Street. It contains what Verey (1979) and others rate as the Cotswold's finest collection of late C17 and C18 table tombs (known locally as 'caddies'), of oolitic limestone carved in the Renaissance tradition, and many with inscribed brass plates. The leading family of mason-carvers was apparently the Bryans, and in the south part of the churchyard is the tomb (listed grade II*) of John Bryan (d 1787). Paradoxically, this takes the form of a pyramid. Large numbers of the tombs are listed, mostly grade II but some II*.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The churchyard is entered off New Street through a half-timbered, gatehouse-like lychgate (listed grade II) at the south-west corner of the churchyard. It is of 1901-2, and constructed from timbers reused from the belfry. Another gate off New Street with C19 stone gate piers (listed grade II) lies 50m to the north-east. A third entrance off New Street is at the north corner of the churchyard. Its wide-set gate piers (listed grade II) with vermiculated panels and ball finials were designed and built by John Bryan in 1748. The entrance at the east corner of the churchyard, off St Mary's Street, has C19 octagonal piers (listed grade II) identical to those on the central New Street entrance. Another gate, next to Stocks Cottage, is 30m to the south-west.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING St Mary's church (listed grade I) dates from c 1378 and later. The former Lady Chapel is late C15 as is the north aisle of the nave. The south aisle was added in 1741 and rebuilt in 1883. The tower is of the mid C15, the spire of 1632.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS A network of broad paths connects the churchyard entrances and the church. The main paths are three which radiate out either side of the church and along the north-west side of the churchyard from the lychgate at its south-west corner, and that which runs from the north gateway past the east end of the church to the gate by Stocks Cottage. What are traditionally reckoned to have been ninety-nine yews were planted alongside the paths c 1792, and were subsequently clipped into architectural forms; large numbers survive. Between the north entrance and the church is a double line of yews formed into a series of arches. Most of the other yews are single examples in opposed pairs clipped into roughly rounded conical forms above short exposed trunks.

Extending south-west from the north entrance, alongside the low boundary wall with New Street, is a War Memorial Garden. This is 50m long from south-west to north-east and 20m wide, and defined by a low stone plinth, once set with railings. Within this are yews of c 1920, clipped in the same fashion as the churchyard's older examples. The Garden, a lawn, is focused on a shafted cross of 1920 by F L Griggs close to the north-east end of the garden, with clipped yew hedges on three sides. An axial path leads from the open, south-west side down the Garden to a U-plan yew enclosure at its far end. Adjoining this enclosure is a squat, six-sided, decorated limestone monument of 1930 to Harriet and Alice Wemyss.


Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire XI, (1976), p 82 D Verey, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire The Cotswolds (2nd edn 1979), pp 48, 357-9, 554 E Clarke and G Wright, English Topiary Gardens (1988), p 108

Maps OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1881-2, published 1886

Description written: January 1999 Register Inspector: PAS Edited: September 2003

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 29 January 2018.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


War Memorials Online, accessed 29 January 2018 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 29 January 2018 from


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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