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St Michael's Church

Of Norman origin, the church was built outside the city walls and originally endowed in the Abbey of Tewkesbury. In 1193 the rector was named Matthias Cumblaine.

The mediaeval church had a nave with a single south aisle both above a crypt and a tower at the west end What can now be seen is mostly from a rebuild in the 18th century.

Due to the growth of the parish it was suggested that another aisle be built but in 1763 the churchwardens reported that the south wall of the church had bulged outwards which 'they apprehend is occasioned by the weight and spreading of the roof but do not perceive any danger therefrom either to the fabric or the parishioners.

However in August 1774, Thomas Paty, Bristol architect and builder, reported the church to be 'generally ruinous'. It was decided to demolish everything except for the tower which had been repaired in 1739 when a peal of bells had been installed.

Paty's design in the early Gothic revival style, has been much criticised as 'not one of his best works for an imposing position'. It may also be that the donations towards the new building were not as generous as was hoped because in 1794 musical entertainments were being held there to raise funds. There was a further restoration in 1877 which cost £1,000

A long-serving rector of the parish was Rev William.Knight whose incumbency lasted almost sixty years, resigning in 1875. When he died three years later he was buried in the crypt, which extended under the complete area of the church, so large numbers of his former parishioners were able to attend to pay their last respects.

On October 30th 1881, according to the church census held that day, the number attending morning service was 494, evening service 420.

The church, having already suffered in December 1940 bombing raids, was severely damaged by fire during the later ones of March 16th/17th 1941, leaving it roofless but repairable.

In the 1980s Rev Desmond Tucker, stipendiary priest in charge had a good relationship with the pubs in the area. The Scotchman and his Pack regulars paid for a new church flagpole and he would also visit the Colston Arms meeting parishioners. So when the licensed premises were threatened with large rent rises he mentioned them in Sunday night prayers at the church.

The church became voluntarily redundant in 1999 due to the dwindling congregation.
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