Woodchester: Roman catholicism

Pages 302-303

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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The revival of Roman Catholicism in the parish dates from the purchase of the manor by William Leigh, a convert to catholicism. Leigh brought Passionist fathers to Northfield House, Nailsworth, in 1846, and they moved to Pud hill in 1849. The church, comprising chancel with founder's chapel and north vestry block, north tower with spire, and aisled nave with south porch, was designed in the 14th-century style by Charles Hanson and opened in 1849. In 1850 the Passionists, who did not want parochial responsibilities, handed over to the Dominican Order who entered the conventual buildings, designed by Hanson around a cloistered quadrangle, on their completion in 1853. Woodchester was the principal house of the order in England for some years and was later used as a novitiate (fn. 1) until in 1970 the conventual buildings were demolished. (fn. 2) In the mid 20th century mass centres were established at the Box in Minchinhampton, at Nailsworth, and at Avening. (fn. 3) The church continued as the parish church for a wide area to the south of Stroud in 1972.

In 1860 a house of Third Order Regular Franciscan nuns was established at Bird's Hill Farm. An orphanage was opened in 1862 and a day-school soon afterwards. In 1863 the buildings were extended to provide a work-room for the women of the neighbourhood (fn. 4) who, with equipment supplied by the nuns, did contract work for Holloway Bros. of Stroud. (fn. 5) A Gothic chapel and conventual buildings, designed by Charles Hanson, were completed in 1868. The work-room was closed c. 1934 and replaced by a laundry, destroyed by fire in 1940. The orphanage at the convent was closed in 1927 when a guest-house was established. (fn. 6)


  • 1. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, pp. 57-79; for the church, see above, plate facing p. 192.
  • 2. Ex inf. the Revd. A. Murray, parish priest of Woodchester.
  • 3. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, p. 78.
  • 4. Ibid. pp. 90-1.
  • 5. Little, Woodchester, 49.
  • 6. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, pp. 90-1.