The 12th century church of St Mary is located some 1.5 miles from the centre of Kempley. The old Parish Church was declared redundant in 1975 and passed into the gift of English Heritage. The church is managed on behalf of English Heritage by The Friends of Kempley Churches
St Mary’s is renowned for its 12C frescoes in the chancel, for its 14C - 16C wall paintings in the nave and for having the oldest original roof timbers in Great Britain and probably in NW Europe. Unfortunately, the roof space is hidden behind a 17C timber ceiling and access to the roof area is not possible for members of the public. However, 360o images can be seen on our website. The carving of the chancel pillars is typical of the Dymock School of carving. The tower was added about 100 years after the original church construction as a defensive structure against marauding Celts.
Other artefacts within the church include the 14C Parish chest, a Royal Coat of Arms dating to the late 18C, a restored Bishop’s Chair and a mid-19C French harmonium.
The 17C church porch is believed to have been a lychgate originally, though we do not know its origin. It covers a carved “Tree of Life” tympanum above the main doorway to the church.
Outside the church, the wild daffodils grow in profusion in the graveyard; information on all the gravestones has now been recorded and will shortly be available on the website.
The late 19C storeroom has been converted to a small visitor centre which is open to the public during Daffodil Weekend and by special request at other times (e.g. for group visits).
The church is open to the public daily from 1 March to 31 October each year and on weekends during the period November to February (except Christmas). Talks about the church can be arranged for group visits by contacting Kempley Tardis