Poor souls' light at All Saints' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018447

Date first listed: 01-Apr-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Poor souls' light at All Saints' Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud (District Authority)

Parish: Bisley-with-Lypiatt

National Grid Reference: SO 90348 05920


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Poor souls' lights are medieval structures which were used to hold candles for masses said for the souls of the poor, and were also places where alms might be left. Bisley poor souls' light is of 13th century date, and appears to be in its original position within the churchyard. Few surviving examples of poor souls' lights have been recorded in England, and this is believed to be the only one surviving out of doors. The monument survives in an area of Bisley which has a history of religious use dating back possibly to the late prehistoric period.

Bisley was the subject of an archaeological assessment by Gloucestershire County Council in 1997. This provided information about the origins, development and plan of the town from its origins in the early medieval period to the present day.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a poor souls' light of 13th century date which stands in the southern part of the churchyard of All Saint's Church, 14.9m from the south west corner of the church porch. The light, which is Listed Grade II*, is about 3.5m high and has a circular stone base 1.6m in diameter, on which stands a stone hexagon about 1.4m tall. Cut into each face of the hexagon are recesses with trefoil-headed gables and attached shafts of Early English type with moulded capitals and carved banding. Above this is a hexagonal spire which also has trefoil-headed gable openings in each face. The original roll mouldings to the spire are mostly missing, and the spire has also been cut off above the arches. The monument is surmounted by a Celtic-style cross added during the 19th century.

The monument is known locally as `The Bonehouse' and was originally thought to be a well cover. There is a local tradition that the parish priest drowned after falling into the well, and that the cover was built to prevent a similar accident occuring again. There is no evidence for a well in the churchyard, and the monument has since been identified as a poor souls' light.

Excluded from the scheduling are the kerb and gravel surface of the churchyard path where they fall within the monument's protective margin, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 31921

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hancox, R, A Vistor's Guide to All Saints' Church, Bisley, Gloucestershire8-9
Herbert, NM, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire: Bisley, (1976), 35
Verey, D, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, (1979), 114
Douthwaite, AS, 'Gloucestershire Historic Towns Survey' in Bisley, (1997), 10-11

End of official listing