St Peters Church, Frampton Cotterell

History

General:  Frampton was “the settlement beside the R. Frome” and Cotterell comes from “Cotehele”, the name of the family who owned the Manor in the Middle Ages.

Now a suburban village but also includes a rambling rural area along Perrinpit Road, right out to Northwoods on the Old Gloucester Road.  At the end of the 18th Century and in the 19th Century it was heavily industrialised, with coal and iron mining and a flourishing hatting industry.  It was said that at one time nearly all the beaver hats in the country were made in Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne, until the industry moved north to Stockport in 1866 and the factory here closed in 1870.  The modern village has a population of approximately 7,000 and merges into the neighbouring village of Coalpit Heath but very much keeps its own identity, still describing itself as “semi-rural”.  A large area to the north and west of Church Road is still agricultural.

Church Bridge

Tracks came together here a thousand years ago or more and there was a ford and then a bridge.  The mediaeval arched bridge was destroyed by floods in 1966.  A new bridge, differently aligned, was built after the great flood of 1968 when the road was widened and realigned.  There was farmland opposite with a cottage which stood until the development of the Benson estate in the 1960s.

During 2014, the bridge was replaced due to deterioration. The new bridge, among the first in the UK was a new advanced composite made from layers of glass and carbon fibres bound together with a tough resin.

St. Peter’s Church

What you see now is a rebuild from 1858, apart from the tower, which dates from 1315.  There was a Church on the site beside the bridge 1.000 years ago but we don’t know much about it.  It was rebuilt in 1315, much smaller than the present building.  (See picture on the north wall of the nave.) oldchurchpicture The Churchyard contains some 18th century chest tombs which are “listed” in their own right.  The iron gate to Mill Lane was the gate of the village pound (where stray animals were kept), which was on the other side of Church Road opposite the Globe.

In the 1850s, when there was a great deal of industry in the village and a rising population, it was thought necessary to build a new Church on a larger scale, so the existing building was demolished apart from the tower.  The architect was John Norton and the work was paid for by Dr. Foxe, who was the Curate at the time and was also in charge of Northwoods Asylum.  There are windows dedicated to him and his wife on the South side of the nave. 

churchdoorNo expense was spared and the result was a majestic building in the Perpendicular Gothic style with stained glass windows which are remarkable for their quality.  It was unfortunate that the iron mines were failing and the hat factory closed down just a very few years later so the population then began to fall!  Also a new Church, St. Saviour’s, had been built at Coalpit Heath in 1845, so considerably reducing the size of the parish. 

The tower has a peal of 6 bells, the oldest dating from 1627.


Inside the Church, notice the Annunciation Window on the south side which depicts the Church itself.

church window  Also, the iron chest with its 3 locks, formerly used to hold Church treasures.  The Vicar and the two Churchwardens all had keys and it could only be opened in the presence of all three.  Nobody knows now where any of the keys are!!  Also notice the brass on the South wall commemorating Sir John Symes, M.P. for Somerset and Sherriff  and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset at the time of the Civil War.  He found himself on the wrong side and it is recorded that “he came into long and horrible exile” here!  It is also recorded that “his talents were not hid in a napkin”, so he was not exactly modest!  One of his talents must have been fathering children, since he produced a large number and one of them, Harry Symes, became Lord of the Manor and lived at Frampton Court.  The site of Harry’s storage barn on the east side of the river beyond the Hat Factory building later gave rise to the name of the lane “Harris Barton”, a turning off Park Lane.

Other things to look out for:  the Venetian Chair beside the Lady Altar, the Sanctuary lamps (also brought back from a visit to Italy by a well-heeled Churchwarden very early in the 20th Century) and an unusual Victorian pulpit which is only half a pulpit!  Also the copy of a 16th Century book, “Bishop Jewell’s Apologie for the Church of England” in the case near the font.

In recent years a collection of crosses has been brought back by parties on various  Pilgrimages, to the Holy Land, Oberammergau, Rome and Assisi and Greece, as well as one brought back from the Church in Uganda.  The back of the Church was reordered in 2005, giving space for a social area, kitchen facilities and a toilet and there are now plans to develop this sympathetically to provide teaching facilities for the Children’s Church, replacing the Cabin outside the northwest corner of the Church for which we have only temporary planning permission.  


  • Church Road
  • Frampton Cotterell
  • South Glos
  • BS36 2AB


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