St Mary’s, Charlcombe is the oldest church building in Bath and has been a place of worship for over a thousand years.
Although the nave and chancel were much restored in 1861, the organ chamber constructed in 1886 and the vestry added in 1901, the church, probably on the site of very early sacred structures, retains sufficient evidence to identify its Norman origins. Its ancient history has been obscured in the mists of time. Some of the early parish records, now in the care of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, are written in Anglo-Saxon as well as in Latin. These suggest that the site may have been given to the Abbess Bertana in 675/676 A.D. to found a religious community of 100 virgins in the area of Bath.
The church sits in a peaceful setting amongst the hills on the edge of the City of Bath. Its proximity to the city has meant that from time to time its history has become entwined with that of the famous Spa. Jane Austen wrote of its popularity as a destination for walkers from the city, and its atmosphere was particularly favoured by those of a romantic disposition. Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones, eloped, and was married to Charlotte Cradock in the church in 1734. The church also contains a monument to his sister, Sarah who died in 1768. Sarah Fielding was herself a key figure in the development and history of the English novel.
You can find out more in this illustrated guidebook about St Mary’s here, or pick one up when you visit.