A small but pretty market town on the Cotswold Way, Dursley is blessed with quite a lot of old buildings to see, notably two very different churches.
St James the Great, Dursley
This is the main church for the town, and right in the heart of the town centre. At the moment it’s rather forlorn looking, being covered up in a lot of scaffolding, and it’s clear that the weather has taken its toll on the carvings above the doors.
Then again, the current building dates to around the 14th century, and the tower and spire were added in the 15th century. However, they fell down in 1698 and the tower alone was rebuilt as we now see it in 1707 – 1709.
Refurbished in 1867, although sadly a lot of the Victorian additions have been recently removed.
It’s pretty much what you might expect of a parish church for a market town, with lots of memorials on the walls, plenty of surviving stained glass windows, and plenty of military flags from times past.
A modern mosaic added in 2011 shows off the history of the town, which was famous for bicycle manufacturing, and a local railway line nicknamed the “Dursley Donkey”.
St Mark’s Church, Dursley
Just down the road is a much smaller parish church, which was built in 1844 to provide worship for the poor of the parish who couldn’t afford to rent a pew in St James church.
The church itself was part funded by the philanthropist Henry Vizard, who gave the land to the Diocese for the church and burial ground. The burial ground is considerable, and runs in a long row deep past the back of the church and even around the corner into a separate field.
Today it’s a welcoming small church and although rather plain inside feels less scary-grand than its larger neighbour. If it wasn’t Victorian, it could almost pass for a much older building that had been whitewashed by the puritans.
A curiosity though is the seemingly Orthodox style altar to one side of the main pews.
So there we have two very different churches in a small market town.
Dursley itself is quite pretty, with a pretty Queen Anne era market building and plenty of Victorian shop fronts. A small museum was, closed, which seems odd for a Saturday. And the small cafe served the most heavenly toasties on brown bread I have had in many a year, even if they did take so long to arrive that the coffee was tepid by then.
And yes, the Harry Potter family was named after the town.