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Holy Innocents Church
Photos by John Wilkes
of Cam near Dursley, Gloucestershire
The Gloucestershire
Photo Library

Page composition by
Allan Taylor
Vancouver, Canada

John writes:

'I had read about the splendours of Highnam Church but had never managed to get inside as the doors are often locked. The church is away from the village and approached via a path through the woods. As I arrived, the storm clouds cleared and the sun shone on the magnificent spire. It was a little after nine o'clock on a Sunday morning and ahead of me the rector was heading up the path to open up the church prior to the morning service. For a more distant view of the church, I climbed a stile into an adjacent field. A dozen rabbits scurried about in the hegerow. Entering the church, one is overcome by the decorative splendour of the interior - a mass of wall paintings and intensely colourful stained glass windows. I asked the rector if I could take photographs which I did while he was testing the sound system. He said I was very welcome and I went on to explain how I had now photographed 327 churches in the county, to which he exclaimed 'Good Heavens' or words to that effect. I explained how a friend, Allan Taylor in Vancouver, Canada was also preparing photo montages of selective churches and this church may be featured in this way. He noted the website addresses. I said it was the most decorated church I had seen in the county and he agreed saying it could be quite overwhelming at times. At that moment, the visiting preacher arrived with his entourage. He had not preached their before and he and the ladies that arrived with him were amazed at the splendour of the interior. A visit to this church is highly recommended'

Highnam Court near Gloucester was built in 1658 after the original house was seriously damaged in the Civil War. It is one of the few houses built during the Commonwealth period. The Highnam Estate was bought in 1838 by Thomas Gambier-Parry, who was an accomplished artist, musician and art collector. He started to lay the garden out in 1840 and by 1874 it rivalled any in the UK. It then fell into decline for a century. Mr Roger Head is the current owner and since 1994 the gardens have been lovingly restored to their former glory, with many new additions being made to compliment and enhance the original design. Holy Innocents church, decorated internally by Gambier-Parry, has a splendid spire and is attached to the estate.

Various features of Highnam Court and its Gardens can be seen on this display of images. These include specially commissioned obelisks in translucent acrylic that line the Winter Garden Terrace; ornamental stone urns that stand atop, and sculptured figues which stand in front of, the Kitchen Garden wall; the statue of Flora that can be seen above the library door at the front of the house; an elaborate fountain in the rear Courtyard; 2,000 roses and 60,000 spring flowering bulbs that have been planted in the classic but new 'Victorian' garden of concentric oval beds in what was the pasture in front of the house; a jazz band playing in front of the Orangery; a parterre garden of box hedging featuring a central sculptural urn; large sculptures of an eagle and fish near, and on island in, the big Lower Lake - and more timber carvings of owls, a bear, and heron by the Top Lake; a sculpture by Mat Chivers in Kilkenny limestone titled 'Abraxus' and resembling a giant ammonite; and the newly built temple, seen here reflected in the lake. There is also a Monet-style bridge over the stream by the big Lower Lake; and a similar bridge in the 'Monet Garden'.