Designed by John Wood the Younger, the tiny church of All Saints in Woolley is an 18th century gem. It was built on the site of an earlier chapel in 1761 and paid for by Mrs Elizabeth Parkin, the owner of the nearby gunpowder factory. The church is open during the day and there is a footpath across the valley from Swainswick. As well as the churchyard, where Admiral Puget is buried, there is a lovely church garden to sit in. Services are held here throughout the year to celebrate Christmas, Easter and other high days and holidays.
The church is the only communal space in the village and is used for occasional concerts and other events. It’s looked after by villagers and the Friends of Woolley Church. Woolley is one of only 14 Doubly Thankful Villages Britain – so named because all 13 young men who were sent to the First World War and 13 in the second returned home. There are plaques giving thanks in the church and a memorial in the garden.
Woolley tower roof repairs
Looking after Swainswick and Woolley churches, both listed buildings, is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. For the last two years we have been planning and raising money for essential repairs to the tower of All Saints Woolley. Some of the stone work needs replacing as do the metal bands which fix the cupola (the lovely round bit at the top) to the bell tower. Although it has been judged structurally safe at present, there is a risk that, without urgent repairs, parts of the tower could fall down.
The total cost of the repairs is £36,000. The Friends of Woolley Church have generously donated £15,000 and we have just secured invaluable grants from the Wolfson Foundation for £5000 and the National Churches Trust for £3,500. We can apply for a grant to cover the cost of VAT and, with a couple more trust applications oustanding and a generous pledge, we are hopeful that the work can begin in early 2022.