Church of St Mary the Virgin


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
50m due north of Corner Farmhouse


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Statutory Address:
50m due north of Corner Farmhouse

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
South Gloucestershire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A pre-fabricated, corrugated iron clad missionary church, brought in from elsewhere and re-erected here in 1914.

Reasons for Designation

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Shepperdine, a pre-fabricated missionary church, brought in from elsewhere and re-erected here in 1914, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: it is a good example of a prefabricated ‘tin tabernacle’; * Degree of survival: as an increasingly uncommon building type not intended for longevity, its survival for over a century is testament to the quality of the product and its fitness for purpose; * Interior: it has a remarkably intact, good quality wooden interior retaining its original layout, fixtures and fittings.


Pre-fabricated mission churches, often called 'tin tabernacles', are not actually clad in tin, but corrugated galvanized iron. They were developed in the C19 to serve fast growing urban and rural areas and the upsurge in Non-Conformism, as well as to be used in the overseas colonies. Quickly assembled places of worship, these structures were designed to stand in temporarily before more permanent stone or brick structures could be built, but a limited number survive in England.

In the early 1900s, local residents in rural Shepperdine, supported the purchase of a second hand prefabricated church, believed to have come from Wales. A piece of land was identified, and on 25 March 1914, a legal Agreement of Tenancy was signed between the land owner John Cullimore and the then Vicar of Rockhampton, the Rev. W. Leigh. A group of local men undertook the haulage and re-erection of the church. As reported in the 'Gazette' of 9 May 1914, the church was in full use by then with five services a month together with a Sunday School.

On 24 February 1956 the church was transferred from Rockhampton to Oldbury Parish, the order being signed by H.M. the Queen 'in Council', and it is now part of Thornbury Benefice.

Today (2016), the church of St Mary the Virgin is believed to be one of the few remaining 'tin tabernacles' in England that continue to be in regular use. There are services once or twice a month and it is always open for visitors.


A pre-fabricated, corrugated iron clad missionary church, brought in from elsewhere and re-erected here in 1914.

MATERIALS: the building is set on a brick base and has a timber frame clad in corrugated galvanised iron, painted a matt black. It has a tiled, pitched roof with decorative gable-end terracotta finials and decoratively carved timber barge boards set under the eaves.

PLAN: it has a rectangular plan with a small projecting entrance porch attached to the east, which incorporates a small vestry cupboard accessed from the inside of the church.

EXTERIOR: the south-east side elevation, with its full height projecting porch, is blind. The inside of the porch is timber clad and a four-panelled door gives access to the church. A three-light timber casement window with two horizontal top swing windows above and a rectangular fixed light in the apex survive to the north-east gable end. The south-west gable end has the same window arrangement, though the windows are later timber replacements. Here the fixed light above has a small bell-cote hanging over it. The north-west side elevation has two of the same three-light windows with top swing lights above, though they have been partially replaced as before.

INTERIOR: its fully timber clad interior survives remarkably well, with the majority of its fixtures and fittings surviving in situ, including for example its timber panelled doors, the small vestry, the timber pews in the nave, a Bible lectern and cast iron oil wall lamp in the sanctuary at its north-east end, and the 1930s electric wall heaters and Bakelite light switches.


Books and journals
Smith, I, Tin Tabernacles. Corrugated Iron Mission Halls, Churches and Chapels of Britain, (2004)
Article by Liz Induni on Tin Tabernacles for Building Conservation, accessed 11 May 2016 from
A history of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Shepperdine, written and research by Sandra Grey and Meg Adams (copies held in the church)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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