Parish of Dundry

St Michael's Church - History



St Michael's was originally a chapelry of St Andrew's Church, Chew Magna, with the first burial in Dundry in 1559. In 1745 Dundry became a parish in its own right, officially separating from Chew Magna in 1855.


The two parishes reunited as 'The joint benefice of St Andrew's, Chew Magna and St Michael's, Dundry' in the 1970s, and in 2000 were joined with Norton Malreward to become a joint benefice of three churches with one Rector, titled 'The United Benefice of St Andrew, Chew Magna with St Michael the Archangel, Dundry and Holy Trinity, Norton Malreward.'


From July 2003, the benefice was joined with the benefice of Chew Stoke and Nempnett Thrubwell to form a new group, completed by the addition of St Mary The Virgin, Stanton Drew in 2010, and is now called 'The Lakeside Group Ministry, Chew Magna with Dundry, Norton Malreward and Stanton Drew, and Chew Stoke with Nempnett Thrubwell.'


The tower, erected in 1482 in the reign of Edward IV and visible from almost every part of Bristol, stands ninety seven and a half feet high. A natural landmark for ships in the Bristol Channel, it was completely renovated in 1987 at a cost of £110,000, the money raised through fund raising activities. The six bells date from 1642, 1750 (2), 1765, 1796 and 1840. A clock was installed on the south wall of the tower in August 1999 to mark the Millennium.


The Church, built in the 13th century, was heavily restored in 1867. Some portions of the original building remain, including the round pillars separating the side aisles from the nave, the south and west doorways, some portions of the north window and a stone font. A mutilated stone figure housed within the church is (apocryphally) reputed to be that of St Giles.


Recently, we have discovered more of our church's history. A locked chest safe, lacking a key, had stood in the vestry for many years. Thanks to a skilled local resident, a key was made and the chest opened. Inside were the Victorian plans for changes to the church from which can be seen that what is now the side chapel was originally a screened vestry, and that the two windows at the east end of the north and south aisles - a much richer colour than the other windows - are in fact of an earlier date; one of the two was originally the main east end sanctuary window.


Some documents in the chest date back to 1630, and one solves the intriguing mystery of why St Michael's holds a St Giles's fair each autumn. Sometime in the 1400s (i.e. the fifteenth century) the church of St Giles was rededicated to St Michael the Archangel. Sadly the document does not say why this occurred, but our tower was completed in 1485 - could here be a connection?


Further history of the Church may be found in the 'About Dundry' section of this website, and is also available in leaflet form at the Church.