Arlingham, St. Mary's Church

Arlingham lies at the western end of the horseshoe curve of the river Severn looking across the water to Newnham and the Forest of Dean.

Having the river on three sides of the parish and a single lane connecting it to the villages to the east, it developed over the years a distinct identity, which it still retains. Its rural character is still maintained having some ten farms with dairy and beef herds and arable land. The area has many marked footpaths, including a section of the Severn Way, and attracts many walkers. Although so close to the river, unlike the areas upriver of Gloucester, Arlingham does not have a high flood risk.

The houses of the village are strung out from north to south for about a mile and are buildings of each century from the seventeenth to the present day. There are about 400 inhabitants of all ages and most of the working population commute to the towns and cities served by the M5 and the A38. The village school closed about thirty years ago and children now go, mostly by bus, to Frampton and beyond. A Village Shop and Post Office is now only open at reduced hours but there is a village pub, the Red Lion, re-opened as a community pub, bought, opened and successfully managed by villagers since November 2014.There is also a superb Fish Restaurant by the river, The Old Passage Inn. There is a strong community spirit in the village with several active organisations such as The W.I., Gardening Club, Book Club and Church social events are well supported. During the first decade of the 21st Century, a group of villagers produced two books of village life from bygone years. The original paper books, Antiquities of Arlingham and Where the River Bends, have long since sold out but are now available in ibook format.

It is thought that there was a church on this site since Norman times or even late Saxon. The present Church of St. Mary the Virgin dates from the mid-fourteenth century in the Decorated style made of the local blue lias stone with the tower in Cotswold stone and has been little altered. It still has some of the original stained glass windows with loyal and hard-working parishioners cleaning, polishing and decorating it with flowers.

There is, at present, a PCC of nine members and a Planned Giving campaign several years ago ensured, at least for the present, that the parish can meet its commitments and indicated the village's concern for its Church. The congregations are modest, except for special occasions, but a well supported weekday lay-led service has now been held successfully for several years. Our wish is to attract some of the younger people of the village and an occasional Young Families service for children and parents has proved successful.

Read about our recent Clock Refurbishment »


Address: The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Arlingham, Gloucestershire, GL2 7JL

Church Clock Refurbishment

During an inspection early in 2014, it was discovered that the mechanism was in such a delicate state that, should it have failed, it could have caused serious injury to anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. The investigation also pin-pointed the fact that the clock face and surround were equally fragile.

The clock is considered to be a fine example of a late 17th Century, wrought iron turret clock, and whilst not unique, with it's single hand, is relatively rare.

The PCC, therefore, faced the dilemma of either:-

  • Renovating both the internal mechanism and the clock face ( since it made little sense to do one without the other ), or
  • Find and install a more modern system, thereby destroying its heritage, and as it turned out with little financial saving, or
  • Removing both and leaving a bare wall.

The PCC, were of the opinion that the clock was an integral part of the heritage of both the Church and Arlingham. Despite equally valid claims on our financial resources for other repairs, the PCC decided that it was vitally important to preserve that heritage. The decision, therefore, was made to carry out the renovation as a matter of urgency before matters deteriorated any further.

Whilst we sought grants to alleviate our outgoings, we would have, if necessary, footed the bill ourselves.

However, much to our surprise and delight, the Village responded in amazing fashion and generosity. Newly re-opened as a community owned pub in November 2014, the Directors of The Red Lion kindly allowed us to use the premises to hold a Promises Auction which raised a amazing £5000 towards the clock repairs. That, coupled with support from elsewhere, allowed the repairs to take place and the refurbished clock was rededicated by our Vicar, the Rev. Dr. Anne Spargo, at our annual Carol Service in December 2015. Long may it chime!

A little known legend of the clock still flourishes to this day. In it's early days, during the English Civil War, Parliamentarian forces were stationed in Arlingham. It was apparently decided to hold a shooting contest with the clock face as its target - indeed there remain 2 musket ball indentations in it to this day, with the winning shot only 2 or 3 inches from the centre. Excellent shooting for a musket of that time. It is also believed that Oliver Cromwell himself came to the village on an inspection tour of the area and joined in the competition with his troops. It is said the Lord Protector himself fired the winning shot.

In the John Ford movie "The Man who Shot Liberty Valance", starring John Wayne and James Stewart, the newspaper proprietor was very fond of a certain saying; "When the Legend becomes Fact - Print the Legend". We leave it to our readers to decide the truth of the Legend!

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