Holy Trinity, Stapleton

The Spire on Bell Hill

holy trinity church, stapleton


There has been a Church on this site for at least 500 years.The original dedication was to St. Giles, but between 1691 and 1720 the old Church was demolished and a new one, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, erected in its place. In 1854 the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, Bishop Monk, whose official residence was what is now Colston’s School, offered to rebuild the Church at his own cost, desiring “my fellow parishioners to understand that my motives in this work are to remove the source of dispute and contention for pews, caused by the inadequate size of the Church, and to provide sittings for the poor as well as other classes of Parishioners”. The Chancel was rebuilt at the cost of the lay rector, Greville Smyth, and the new Church was dedicated on 15 April 1857. The Choir Vestry was added in 1892.

 The Benefice
At first the Church was the responsibility of the Benedictine monks of the Priory of St. James, who appointed chaplains. The first Vicar was instituted in 1540, after the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1544 St. James’ Priory with all its assets, including the rectory and tithes of St. Giles’ Church, was sold to Henry Brayne, a merchant tailor of London. In 1626 the Heath House estate, with the rectory and tithes, was bought by Thomas Walter, from whom they descended to the Smyth family of Ashton Court, as described in the tablet over the North Door. The lay rectory and tithes were surrendered by Greville Smyth in 1857, when the Vicar became the Rector, but the right of presentation to the benefice was retained by the family until 1948, when it was transferred to the Bishop of Bristol. 

The Church

Church 01




The Church is a fine example of Victorian Gothic architecture in the Decorated style. It was built of Pennant stone quarried locally at Broom Hill and the stone for the dressings came from quarries near Bath.




The Tower with its spire is a commanding feature rising to a height of 170 feet. Coupled buttresses at its angles rise boldly in five stages to the rich parapet and are capped with crocketted pinnacles. These flank the spire whose eight angles are ornamented with crockets carved in Bath stone bands, the general facing being of Pennant stone in courses. A large metal cross surmounts the finial of the spire.At the foot of the Tower is the elaborately carved West Doorway.


The springing of the arches, the roof-corbels and window heads are enriched by fine carvings of heads, angels with musical instruments, and foliage. The whole of the roof is of oak, that in the chancel being ribbed and carved.





This dates from 1857 and is of alabaster set on marble pillars. The oak cover is  a memorial to two members of the Hall family who fell in the First World War. 








This seems to have been made for some other church where the steps would have wound round a pillar. The Caenstone body rests on serpentine shafts with foliated capitals. and three of the panels contain carved representations of preaching – Christ in the centre, and St Peter and St Paul on the left and right respectively.




Holy Trinity Stapleton Lectern

A fine brass eagle given in memory of Charles Castle, died 1886.

Choir Stalls

Notable for the finely carved foliage and figures of kneeling angels.




This was given by the Revd. W. H. Shaw at the time of the Church’s jubilee in 1907. It shows Our Lord holding out His hands in invitation while angels stand or kneel on either side.



Holy Trinity Stapleton Organ

A two-manual instrument by Vowles of Bristol. Built in 1873, it now has electro-pneumatic action with 21 speaking stops.


Lady Chapel               

Lady Chapel Reredos



The oak reredos and communion rail were given in memory of Lt. Fitzroy Charles Phillpotts, who fell at Gallipoli in 1915. 





No two windows have the same tracery. Starting at the West end, and proceeding clockwise, the subjects are as follows:

West Window




West. (Hardman)  Bishop Monk kneels to offer a model of the Church to Christ on His throne. On the left, St. Peter; on the right, St. Paul.




North Aisle 1



North Aisle:1. The three lights show (a)The supper at Emmaus; (b) The women at the empty tomb on Easter morning; (c) Our Lord showing his wounds to doubting Thomas. (In memory of Charlotte Harriet Harford, died 1885).




North Aisle 2



North Aisle:2. (a) Simeon recognises the infant Jesus in the Temple; (b) Jesus blessing the children; (c) Jesus being taught to read by his mother, while His grandmother St Anne stands by. (In memory of Arthur John Smyth Osbourne, died 1881, aged 4).





North Sanctuary


North Sanctuary The two lights show Joshua, Gideon, Caleb and David, with, above: (a) Gideon receiving his commission to destroy the Midianites; (b) David slaying Goliath; and below: (a) Joshua’s vision of the captain of the Lord’s host before Jericho; (b) Caleb smiting the sons of Anak. (In memory of Capt. Edward Gore Langton, of Stapleton Park (now Beech House), died 1860, a veteran of the Peninsula and Waterloo).



East Window



East Window The five principal lights show the Crucifixion. The five smaller pictures below (partly hidden by the reredos) are: (a) Christ’s entry into Jerusalem; (b)The raising of Lazarus; (c) The Last Supper; (d) Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; (e) Christ carrying His cross.



South Sanctuary




South Sanctuary (a) Jesus with Martha and Mary at Bethany; (b) The raising of Lazarus. (In memory of Frances Matilda Gore Langton, died 1864)





South Chancel 1



South Chancel: 1. (a) Mary Magdalene meets the risen Christ in the garden; (b) The good works of Dorcas. (In memory of Ann, widow of Capt Edward Gore Langton, died 1869). 





South Chancel 2




South Chancel:2. (Kempe) The Annunciation. (In memory of Margaret Catherine Heberden, died 1887, aged 17).




Lady Chapel East




Lady Chapel (East) The four lights show one picture of the Adoration of the Magi (Damaged by bomb blast in the Second World War; restored 1949)




South Aisle 1



South Aisle: 1 (Kempe) (a) St. Margaret, a Roman virgin, beheaded rather than marry a heathen; (b) St. Catherine, a virgin of Egypt, tortured on a wheel and beheaded; (c) St. Agnes of Rome, also beheaded rather than marry a heathen. (In memory of Catherine Osbourne, died 1888) 



South Aisle 2



South Aisle: 2. (a) St. Giles, with his hand pierced by the arrow intended for his friend, the hind; (b) St. Augustine of Canterbury; (c) St. Lucy of Syracuse, beheaded for her faith. (In memory of Alfred William Beasley Brooks, died 1927, and of his wife, Lucy Anne, died 1908)




Over the North Door is a memorial to the Walter family erected by Mary Whitchurch, sole heiress of Rowles Walter, and mother of Jane Smyth. On the West wall of the North Aisle are tablets erected by Jane Smyth to her mother and aunt, and another to the Revd. Henry Shute (the elder), Domestic Chaplain to the Dowager Duchess of Beaufort. Other tablets from the second Church are now on the inside walls of the Tower


A peal of six:

1 : Treble : 1872
2 : Undated
3 : Originally 1669 (From the first Church) Recast 1990 by
Taylor’s of  Loughborough
4 : 1792 (From the second Church)
5 : 1792 (From the second Church)
6 : Tenor : 1845 (From the second Church)

Old Font

Old Font

The square font in the West porch has been dated to about 1000 A.D. When the second church was demolished this font was sold to Bishop Monk’s former butler, who kept the Bell Inn, where it was used as a geranium pot. It was discovered and returned to the church by the Revd. W. H. Shaw (Rector 1891–1908).The font, of Dundry stone, has an overflow channel in one corner; other marks show where the hinges and lock were fitted for the font-cover, necessary to prevent the superstitious use of the consecrated water.


Stapleton & Waterloo

A stained-glass window and memorial tablet to Capt. Edward Gore-Langton on the North side of the Sanctuary in our Parish Church record a link with the Battle of Waterloo, the 200th anniversary of which falls on 18 June.

Capt. Gore-Langton was born in 1788. the second son of Col. William Gore-Langton MP, of Newton Park, near Bath. He served in the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Light Infantry Regiment of Foot in the battles of the Peninsular War – including Corunna, Fuentes D’Onoro, Ciudad Rodrigo and Salamanca, and then at Waterloo, where it was said of his Regiment that they were “never surpassed in arms since arms were borne by men.....”.

Capt. Gore-Langton married Ann Richards in Bristol in 1838. They settled at Stapleton Park, now called Beech House, with his unmarried sister Frances. He died in 1860, aged 71. On the South side of the Sanctuary and Chancel are stained-glass windows in memory of Frances, who died in 1864, and Ann, who died in 1869.

Recent Improvements

1987: Gas central heating installed. Toilet adjoining Vestry. Access ramp by Vestry door with level approach and new opening to side of North Porch.

1993: Electric lighting, which had replaced gas in 1948, renewed. New floodlighting for spire.

2014: New LED Lighting installed.