There has been a Christian settlement on the banks of the river Trym since the 8th century. The first church in Westbury on Trym, built in the Anglo Saxon era, is believed to have dated from AD717. The year 2017 is, therefore, being celebrated as the 1300th anniversary of the church here in Westbury. The original church was destroyed and a new monastic community established by Oswald, Bishop of Worcester in 962 AD. In 1093 AD, the church was repaired and re-dedicated by Wulfston, Bishop of Worcester. In 1194 the church became a Collegiate church under the direct responsibility of the Bishop of Worcester. In the 15th century, Bishop Carpenter transformed the church in the Perpendicular style. Holy Trinity church, together with the nearby College, was home to a collegiate community under the Bishop of Worcester until 1544.
The most important era of the Westbury Collegiate church was in the second half of the 15th century under Bishop John Carpenter, who built the present three bay chancel with a polygonal apse. Bishop Carpenter was Provost of Oriel College, Oxford and there are continuing links today between the Parish Church and Oriel College. Works undertaken in the Carpenter era included building a tower, western extensions to the nave aisles to join the tower, a Lady chapel, enlargement of the east end and installing the clerestory. It was at this time that the church was re-dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
During the Victorian era, the church was subject to significant restoration, commencing in 1851. The old box pews were replaced by the present oak pews with poppy head ends. Three 13th century lancet windows in the west wall of the south aisle were re-opened and restored. The tower was restored in 1865 with the addition of a spirelet and weather vane. The font was added. The clock was a memorial to Queen Victoria’s jubilee and north and south faces were added in 1897. The crypt, which had been filled in was re-opened. The rereodos with the carved central panel showing the Last Supper was added in 1860. The monument to Sir Richard Elsworth, behind the altar on the east wall of the (St Oswald’s) chapel was moved in this period.
To summarise, the church has fascinating history, is a grade I listed building, which can be appreciated through a visit 364 days a year.
Opening and Contact Details
The church is open daily to visitors to explore from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, and on Sundays from 1pm to 6pm outside the Sunday service times. Intimate services also take place in midweek, but these do not prevent access by visitors. Funerals or weddings will, however, occasionally prevent access, but these services will only last for about an hour.
Times of such services in the week ahead are posted on the church notice board and on the website and can be checked by ringing the Parish office on 0117 950 8644.
Arrival and Parking Facilities
When the church is open, the church car park will be available. An accessible car parking space is available close to the main (West) entrance. There is space for about 10 cars in the car park. Should the car park be full, there is free parking available for 3 hours in the nearby Westbury Hill public car park – from Church Road turn left into the High Street and left at the war memorial roundabout into Westbury Hill. The car park entrance is 50 yards on the left. The Westbury Hill car park has 3 accessible parking spaces, although these are furthest from the church and the route from the car park is not straightforward for wheelchair users. We suggest that you drop off any disabled visitors in the church forecourt before parking in the Westbury Hill car park, should that be necessary.
If approaching the church from this car park, there is a public footpath (part compacted stone and part tarmac) leading to the church from the far side of the Westbury Primary Care Centre (signed by a green sign). There are three steep steps with no handrail from this path down to the church forecourt.
There is also a path from Westbury on Trym Village Hall, on Eastfield Road down the hill to the south door of the church, and thence to the west door. Although this is in tarmac, it is quite steeply sloping in parts.
There are two cycle stands to the right of the church gates.
There are two toilets within the church, of which one is suitable for ambulant disabled people. However, they are not normally available to visitors as they are within a secured area. However, there are public toilets in the High Street (about 200 metres from the church) which are open daily when the church is open.
The Church Building
The church building can be accessed from the West entrance. There is a level approach to the right of the outer doors or three equal stone steps with handrails on either side in front of the building.
Once inside the church there are a further four steps with handrails and a platform lift, with instructions just to the right of the entrance, which avoids the need to use the steps. There are three further steps between the nave and the choir stalls. The church floor is largely covered with stone.
The Bell Tower
The bell tower is not normally open to the public. It has a steep stone spiral staircase with a rope hand guide. It is not suitable for infirm or disabled people. The tower is open for visits at certain times of the year – Doors Open Day and during the Community Fair in May. Access can be arranged for organised groups at other times by prior application to the Tower Master, Patrick Harris on 0117 950 1078.
Interpretation Materials / Guides
There is an interpretation board by the church noticeboard close to the path that runs through the churchyard. Within the church, information sheets are available in many European languages.
There is a brief guide and a guide for use by children.
Guided tours can be arranged at any time by ringing the Parish Office 0117 950 8644. In the summer holidays guides are sometimes available within the church.
Surrounding the church is a large graveyard with numerous tombs. There are tarmac paths through the graveyard and a gravel public right of way around the southern boundary.
The College, College Road
The remains of Westbury College, in nearby College Road, is owned by the National Trust but access to the building is not currently available for health and safety reasons. The remains of this historic building can be clearly seen from outside the site on College Road.
Westbury on Trym Village
The church is at the heart of the Westbury on Trym village conservation area. Westbury on Trym has a wide range of shops and services, including pubs and restaurants most of which are accessible to disabled people.