Construction | Seating in the early days | Early improvement work | Further alterationsCentenary | Post-war | Sixties and Seventies | New millennium


"Holy Trinity original floor plan"

Holy Trinity original floor plan

The cornerstone of the Holy Trinity Church was laid by William Stanton, of Thrupp House, on March 1,1838, during one of the worst depressions the local woollen industry had known. It was consecrated by Bishop Monk on October 15, 1839.

The church took about a year and a half to complete and the cost was borne by subscription and a grant from the Church Building Society. It had a large rectangular nave with an attached short chancel containing the sanctuary, a high pulpit and reading desk on either side of the chancel arches, galleries on the north, west and south sides of the nave and an organ in the west gallery.

In its architectural features, Thomas Foster, of Bristol, followed fashion, with pointed lancet windows and in the nave pointed arches above pillar capitals carved on a leaf pattern, the style labelled Early English.

Yet the west end, where the triple windows had on each side sturdy octagonal turrets originally surmounted by small spires, suggested a mixture of styles.

Original features were the three elegant arches separating nave from chancel, and the position of the pulpit in the east wall south of the chancel.

Access to the pulpit was by steps from a door in the sanctuary. The nave windows were composed of small panes called quarries, popular because of their comparative cheapness.

Of the glass in the five chancel windows the only one to survive from the beginning is the northern, bearing the inscription “The oblation of the masters and children of the schools of the parish 1838”.

The church is constructed of Painswick stone with Welsh slate roofs to the nave and apse. An interesting contribution was made by the one-time owner of Ebley Mill, Stephen Clissold of Field Place, who presented a large gilt eagle lectern which had once stood in Ebley Chapel.

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Seating in the early days

A drawback from the beginning was certainly the seating. To provide accommodation for a maximum congregation of 1,000 made it very cramped.

The ground plan shows seating extending the full length of the nave right up to the east wall by the pulpit.

The separate level between the nave and the apse, where the organ and choir are now, did not exist.

The minister’s seat was in the north east corner where the organ now stands. The place for the readings was a stall on the same east wall next to the archway.

At the west end of the church there were three entrances, north, west and south, with the north and south entrances giving access to both the nave and the gallery. The two rooms which are now the kitchen and a toilet were open to the church with seating round three sides and called “Sponsers”.

There were five lines of seating and four aisles running the length of the nave. The seating along the north and south walls extended to the back of the nave and appear to have been a similar width to those present today.

There was a line of 25 seats about three feet wide down the centre of the church. These were all labelled “Free”. In the other four lines the seats from the west end to about halfway were also labelled “Free”. All the seating not labelled as free appears to have been box pews. The other seats appear to have been open at the ends. The free seats had less leg room than the others! The pitch of the free seats was 28in whilst that of the other seats was 35in.

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Early improvement work

In 1881, work was begun at the east end of the church. A new organ was installed on the north-east side of the nave. It was small and supplied by Nicholson of Worcester. The chancel was redecorated by Stansell’s of Taunton, a firm of national reputation, and the floor tiled. These works were supervised by WHC Fisher, a Stroud architect, who also designed the choir stalls in the chancel.

When these had been installed the choir moved there from the gallery. At the same time it was decided that the choir, which had included both males and females, was now to consist only of men and boys.

These improvements cost £580 and were paid for by subscriptions from the congregation.

On March 13, 1882 the church was re-opened, the Archdeacon of Gloucester preaching at choral evensong to a crowded congregation.

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Further alterations

In 1883 the nave was completely reseated, the old uncomfortable benches being replaced by the present pitch-pine pews. Stansell’s was again employed.

The previously bare walls were embellished, the windows replaced with diamond panes of varied colours, and a new floor of Broseley tiles was laid down. New heating and lighting systems were also installed, the process being again superintended by the architect WHC Fisher. Aloft, the north and south wings of the gallery were removed, giving the gallery its present dimensions. and the church was reopened by the Bishop on August 11.

The cost of the alterations, over £1,000, was met by George Ormerod. Unfortunately, the wall decorations have long since been covered by paint, but the window panes remain. When the church was reopened it also had a new lectern, given by Mrs Ormerod, and a new font, provided by gifts from the children of the parish.

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"Holy Trinity with its original pinnacles"

Holy Trinity with its original pinnacles

Holy Trinity celebrated its centenary in Advent 1939, when the Dean of Gloucester dedicated new gifts to the church. A processional cross had been presented to commemorate Canon and Mrs Hawkins, and a fine oak desk for the sanctuary was presented in memory of them by their son Cecil.

A special centenary fund was used to panel the south-west corner of the church. Further panelling and a children’s corner were provided by the former Sunday School superintendent John Cooper and his sister Lily Ford in memory of Mrs Cooper, who had also taught in the Sunday School.

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Little building maintenance had taken place during the war. Concern was now felt about the stability of the pinnacles on the church’s west front, and in 1947 they were strengthened with special metal bands let into the stonework.

The greatest work achieved in these years was the rebuilding and restoration of the organ in 1957. Much of the money needed for this work was raised by the collection and sale of newspapers and other materials.

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Sixties and Seventies

In 1962, extensive work was carried out on the roof, and in 1969 the condition of the two pinnacles on the west front again gave rise to concern. It was decided that they should be dismantled, a decision implemented at once, making a marked difference to the appearance of the church.

In 1970, a new bell was given by the long-time server Douglas Smith. Made by John Taylor and Company, it was inscribed peace and good neighbourhood.

In 1968, All Saints, Thrupp was closed due to lack of numbers. A special chapel at Trinity was set up using the church furnishings of All Saints. These included the altar, the crucifix commemorating the Reader Harold Ridler, and the credence and communion rails which had been the gifts of Gerard and Phyllis Cobb.

Also, brought from Thrupp were the oak pulpit inscribed ‘To the memory of Samuel Morgan’ and a vestment chest. The new chapel was dedicated by Bishop Basil Guy on August 17, 1969, and its establishment entailed some reordering of the church. The Old Colour of the Loyal Volunteers of Stroud, dating from 1799, which had hung in the church since 1914, was handed over to Stroud Museum, where it remains.

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New millennium

It was decided in 2000 that the Millennium must be marked by Trinity in a decisive way. An ambitious programme was launched, entitled Trinity Opportunity. At the west end of the church, a new floor between the ground and first floors, known as the mezzanine level, was to be inserted to provide a meeting room primarily for Sunday Workshop, as the Sunday School was now called. The first floor above was to contain another meeting room and the choir vestry. Fire escapes were to be provided for these floors. The first stage in these changes, to install the new rooms in the gallery, was completed in 2002.

During the Quinquennial inspection in 2003/4, major problems were found on the north side of the roof; the windows on the south side were in urgent need of repair; gutters and downpipes needed attention and the sanctuary had to be redecorated.

As a Grade II listed building, consent had to be obtained from English Heritage to the works being undertaken and as a result of their visit, a major grant was given towards the work, which was undertaken by Nick Miles, builders, of Oakridge Lynch. The full amount was in the region of £205,000 and much of it was raised from grants and activities by the parishioners.

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