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Stroud Congregational Church

A Grade II* Listed Building in Stroud, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7451 / 51°44'42"N

Longitude: -2.2173 / 2°13'2"W

OS Eastings: 385090

OS Northings: 205183

OS Grid: SO850051

Mapcode National: GBR 1MK.J7G

Mapcode Global: VH94Y.JD4J

Entry Name: Stroud Congregational Church

Listing Date: 1 May 1951

Last Amended: 15 August 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1340941

English Heritage Legacy ID: 131301

Location: Stroud, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud

Civil Parish: Stroud

Built-Up Area: Stroud

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Stroud St Laurence

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Summary

A Congregational church of 1835-7 by Charles Baker of Painswick, with later alterations of 1851 and later.

Description

A Congregational church of 1835-7 by Charles Baker of Painswick, with later alterations of 1851 and later.

MATERIALS: faced in limestone ashlar. The first floor is supported by cast-iron columns by Jackman & Cooke, Gloucester. The cast-iron columns supporting the gallery are encased in plaster and may be of later date. The church fittings are of oak and pine.

PLAN: rectangular on plan with an apsidal north-west end and a stair tower to the south-east. It is of two storeys with a gallery inserted in the first floor.

EXTERIOR: the façade is built in the Greek Revival style across three bays. The ground floor (in Classical terms, the basement) is faced in banded rustication and has a two-leaf panelled door to the centre with openings to each side, all under flat ashlar heads. A storey band forms the plinth to two pairs of fluted, engaged Ionic columns to the first floor that support an entablature and pediment. The columns are symmetrically arranged either side of a wide central bay with a Venetian window with Ionic order dressings of paired engaged columns with glazing between, supporting entablature to both sides. The openings to each side have flat heads and 12-over-12 pane timber sashes and plain relief panels above.

To the right corner, set slightly back from the façade, is a circular two-storey entrance hall and stair tower with a bowed, panelled two-leaf door with a five-pane fanlight. The moulded doorcase has engaged Tower of the Winds columns to each side. The ground floor is banded rustication and the first floor, above a deeply projecting cornice, is finely-jointed ashlar with fluted Corinthian pilasters, entablature and dentil cornice. The leaded dome is surmounted by a glazed cupola with cross finial. The side and rear elevations of the church are of coursed ashlar with tall round-arched windows to the first floor (the three in the rear apse are sealed) and square flat-arched openings to the ground floor with timber sashes.

INTERIOR: the principal entrance is from the stair tower with a stone winder stair with cast-iron handrail. It provides access to first floor and second floor (gallery) level. At first-floor level a timber-panelled lobby leads into the worship area, which is of four bays plus apse at the ritual west end. It has oak pews and an oak gallery supported on three sides by cast-iron columns encased in plaster (the west end is supported by the oak panelled vestry). The C19 pews are numbered and have brass holders for umbrellas at the ends. The walls below cill level are lined with pine wainscoting, much of which is diagonally-set. The south-west wall has a Roll of Honour of 1919, a timber triptych. The central panel is square with a moulded cornice and round pediment with a carved wreath in relief. The panel has a St George Cross with a Tudor Rose to each corner, and inside the cross is inscribed: IN/ SACRED MEMORY/ OF OUR MEN/ WHO GAVE THEIR/ LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919./ NAMES/ “THEIR NAME LIVETH/ FOR EVER”. The side panels are inscribed: THE FOLLOWING ALSO SERVED/ NAMES. The gallery has oak box pews and an organ loft in the apse end, next to which is a timber gallery stair with a turned balustrade and handrail. The other sides of the gallery, of 1851 date, are supported on cast-iron columns and have dentil detailing to the lower part of the gallery front. Both ends of the gallery are supported on oak console brackets and there are relief panels to the gallery fronts.

The bay next to the apse has a circular oak pulpit of 1837 on a two-stepped stage with attached oak balustrade. To the right of the pulpit are oak box pews for the choir. The pulpit has Classical decoration including engaged columns with Corinthian capitals. Steps to the rear have a slender handrail and stick balusters. Behind this are opposing sets of stairs from the floor below, winding to both sides of the pulpit. They are lined to the rear by the oak panelling to the vestry. The vestry panelling is hinged to allow the former openings in the apse end wall to light the worship space. There is a former gas fitting fixed to the panelling. The vestry has timber partitioning, panelled doors and sealed fireplaces. The ceiling to the worship area is decoratively finished into polygonal panels and has floral cast-iron ventilators.

There are multiple entrances to the lower-level former school room: from the stair behind the pulpit, a semi-circular corridor in the apse, the stair tower and the lobby behind the central door in the façade. The lower floor is partly partitioned with modern facilities, having been refurbished in the early C21*. The principal space has evenly-spaced cast-iron columns with bases in relief: JACKMAN & COOKE/ KINGSHOLM/ FOUNDRY/ GLOUCESTER.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features, along with the lift and stair lift, are not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

The Cotswolds has a nonconformist tradition dating from the C17, particularly in the commercial and industrial centres of Stroud and Nailsworth. Congregationalists first met in Stroud in the late C17, initially secretly in a barn in Silver Street and from 1711 in a purpose-built chapel in Chapel Street. By the 1830s an additional site for worship was sought and Charles Baker of Painswick was engaged to design a new Independent Chapel on Bedford Street. The foundation stone was laid by Samuel Marling on 8 June 1835 and the new church opened as Bedford Street Chapel 27 September 1837 under Reverend John Burder.

In February 1851 alterations to the chapel were completed. These included the addition of further galleries to the worship area and the sealing of the three apse window openings, the latter presumably to accommodate the insertion of an organ loft. The other chapel windows were re-glazed partly in coloured glass in 1889. In 1919 the pews were altered, electric lighting fitted and a First World War memorial tablet was erected.

The chapel is recorded as having been renovated or repaired in 1870, 1875, 1888, 1897 and 1929. Since the late C20, a lift has been installed, the cupola has been replaced, the church hall refurbished and a stair lift installed in the stair tower. The church remains in its original use.

Reasons for Listing

Bedford Street Congregational Church, Stroud is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: a confident and well-articulated Classical design which responds particularly well to the constraints of its site. The crisp frontage and bold stair tower are accomplished and use high quality craftsmanship;
* Interior fittings: the high quality and well-conceived interior is a very good example of its type, particularly its distinctive C19 fittings including pulpit and pews, and decorative ceiling;
* Rarity: intact examples of early-C19 Congregational chapels are relatively uncommon particularly in the south west;
* Degree of survival: a number of the alterations are historic and in keeping with the building’s continued use as a church;
* Group value: as a set of listed buildings in the civic centre of Stroud, with others by Charles Baker of Painswick, but this being the most carefully designed.

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