GloucestershireBROWNSHILLStMaryAngels(rodwCC-BY-SA4.0)1 RodW

St Mary of the Angels

The chapel is idyllically sited overlooking the Toadmoor Valley, the site is made more poignant by the run of identically sized memorial crosses which mark the graves of Bertha and Katherine and a number of local Catholic priests, monks and laymen and women.

Brownshill, Gloucestershire

Opening times

Keyholder nearby, call office for details. Please do not enter the gallery inside the church as the front is dangerously low.


Brownshill Road

St Mary of the Angels is both our most modern vesting and our first Roman Catholic building. It only just qualifies for the former as our church at Llandeloy in Pembrokeshire is a late flourishing of the Arts & Crafts Movement of 1928.

St Mary's was started in 1930 and brought together a leading architect then in the Indian Summer of a long career, WD Caroe, and as client, two strong minded spinster ladies. Bertha Kessler and Katherine Hudson had been members of the First Aid Nursing Auxiliary in the Great War. The strain of war took its toll and by 1920 both were under psychiatric care. A few years later, having converted to Catholicism, they decided to devote their lives to the ministry of spiritual healing. The peace of the English countryside beckoned, in particular the Stroud Valleys of Gloucestershire, where in 1927 they acquired the Victorian house of Templewood (then called Tanglewood) at Brownshill. They were determined that their endeavour should be marked by a chapel and each gave £1,000 from their own purse to realise it.

Despite the modesty of the budget, they went to the best. WD Caroe was architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and to a number of cathedrals. The former headquarters of the Church Commissioners at No 1 Millbank just beyond the Palace of Westminster is his as are scores of restorations and new churches. By the time the ladies came to him he was 73 and was dead a year after its consecration in 1937. Despite this it displays the playfulness that more often comes to the young. It mixes styles with a vengeance. Inside the view east is dominated by a huge Norman chancel arch whilst to the west there is a gallery with Swedish echoes, approached up an unusual stair where the treads are laid diagonally. All the windows are by Douglas Strachan (1875-1950), described as 'the greatest Scottish stained glass artist' by that great authority, Peter Cormack. 

  • Wildlife haven

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Famous connections

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard

  • Dog friendly

  • Friends of Friendless Churches

Contact information

Other nearby churches