Church of the Holy Rood
Gloucestershire GL7 7AG
Just off the A417 Cirencester to Gloucester Roman road, in the Duntisbourne Valley, lies the delightful little village of Daglingworth. Approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of the historic town of Cirencester , the village is surrounded by rolling farmland.
People have lived here for over 2,000 years, working on the manor farms, raising sheep and growing wheat. Many of the old cottages, fine houses and farm buildings are heritage listed, especially along Dowers Lane leading to Lower End.
At the end of Dowers Lane is a cluster of buildings and an ancient church, perched on a bank. Daglingworth’s Holy Rood is a Saxon building that has been quite heavily restored but still retains many original Saxon features. In particular there are four superb carved wall panels, as fresh as the day they were incised over 1,000 years ago.
The basic Saxon church was rectangular in shape with the porch and tower being added in the 15th century. In Victorian times, the north aisle was added but the chancel was rebuilt in the original style, retaining and restoring the Norman chancel arch.
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Saxon Wall Tablets
When the chancel was rebuilt in the 19th century four beautifully carved stone slabs were discovered and moved to their present location in the nave and north aisle. The figures are carved in deep relief in the Syrian tradition.
These wall panels are powerful in their simplicity and bold execution. Although the subjects are sacred the figures are portraits of ordinary Saxons, bearded and moustached, dressed in simple tunics, open at the neck and fastened by a band at the waist.
The stone relief of The Crucifixion depicts Christ on the cross flanked on each side by a Roman soldier. One holds a spear and a scourge; the other holds a reed and a pot of vinegar. This relief is dated to 1015 AD.
The other tablets are thought to be earlier, possibly as early as 9th century. Certainly the relief showing Christ seated seems to be somewhat ill proportioned as if the carver began working from the top and ran out of room.
Two of the panels deal with the after-life, one shows St Peter with a book and a key, and the other Christ in Majesty at the Last Judgement, his hand raised in benediction.
Other details to look out for in the church include the small carving of a Green Man on the side of the 15th century font. By the 15th century Christianity was well established so it is interesting that the pagan fertility symbol of a ‘Green Man’ should be incorporated into the font.
With the 15th century extensions quite a few of the original external Saxon features are now on the inside of the church. Look out for the sundial above the round Saxon arch leading from the porch into the nave.
While in the porch take a look at the four brass plaques set in the flagstone floor. A rhyming verse tells us that Giles Hancock who died in 1684 “…left to heaven his soul, his friends his love and to the poor a five pound dole.” His brass is engraved with leaves and flowers.
In the vestry wall are two very rare relics indeed. The 11th century builders have incorporated part of a stone Roman votive altar in the wall and pierced two tiny windows through it. On the outside can be seen part of the Roman inscription telling us that the altar was “…dedicated by Junia to the Mother and Genius of this place...” We don’t know who Junia was but perhaps she lived in one of the many Roman villas built in the surrounding countryside. Her home has gone but her thoughts, engraved in stone. have survived through all these centuries.
On emerging from the church, walk round to face the east wall. Here is another carved Crucifixion, possibly from the 11th century. It has all the hallmarks of a Saxon sculpture – the erect head and the simple tunic clothing.
The churchyard holds several fine examples of 17th and 18th century chest tombs and the steps and broken shaft of a 14th century church cross. The big 18th century house next to the church is the heritage listed Daglingworth House and privately owned.
Plan Your Visit
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All year, daily. A service is held on Sundays.
Contact & Further Information
Church Warden contacts are listed on the church website
Before leaving Daglingworth take the time to stroll beside the stream and admire the pretty cottages, elegant old houses, the round medieval dovecote at Lower End and the weathered farmhouses and barns.
- By Car: From Cirencester
Take the A417 northwest towards Gloucester. The turnoff to Daglingworth is about one mile on the left after the intersection of the A417 with the A435.
Google Map - Church of the Holy Rood, Daglingworth