St Cyr’s Church is one of the oldest buildings in Stonehouse, with the tower dating from the 14th century. However there are clues as to the existence of a church on this site, potentially as far back as 1225, which is when the earliest recorded vicar is mentioned. We do not know what his church looked like, but some say that there was a Norman style church.
The church is dedicated to St Cyr, who was a child martyr at the time of the Diocletian persecution in 303. His widowed mother had taken Cyr and fled to Tarsus, but they were betrayed and arrested. When questioned by the governor Alexander, Julitta replied “I am a Christian”. The governor tried to nurse Cyr and play with him but Cyr said “I am a Christian too” which so enraged the governor that he threw Cyr down some steps and so killed him. Julitta was also martyred. It is an uncommon dedication in this country.
By the early 18th century, the population of Stonehouse had grown, so a south aisle was added. By 1850 the building was in a poor state of repair and parishioners concluded that it would be better to pull down the old building and rebuild the church on the same site. The modern-day design of the church was made by Henry Crisp of Bristol. The design was in “a chaste perpendicular style” with the chancel raised on the foundations of the former one, the tower retained, but with the addition of north and south aisles. The new church was opened in 1855.
Since 1855, two side chapels have been added, with the present vestry attached later on. Gas lighting was installed, since changed to electric; heating was put in, originally coke, later oil and now gas. The choir stalls, not part of Henry Crisp’s plan, were put in the chancel and later removed. There have been three different organs, with the present one being a digital organ.
We have the original Parish Chest, but all the registers, dating from 1558, are in the permanent care of the County Records Office.
A number of the memorials inside the building are to members of the Davis Family, formerly of Upper Mills. They were in succeeding generations members of this church and great benefactors in works and in kind.
The modern sanctuary windows are the work of Edward Payne of Minchinhampton.
In 1908, a new churchyard extension was given on the opposite side of Church Lane, which by 1960 was full. In 1981, another area, the gift of Mrs Winterbotham was consecrated, and even more ground dedicated in 1997.
There is a great variety of fine 17th and 18th century tombstones around the church, a number of which were inside the old church, and which were removed at the time of rebuilding, so their position does not necessarily bear any relation to the resting place of those commemorated. Most are of limestone or sandstone and include chest tombs, pedestal tombs, lyre ended, Greek style and tea caddy style.
There is a ring of six bells; the treble has no marking and is the oldest. Two, three, four, and five are all marked 1636. The tenor was recast in 1768 by Thomas Rudhall, it weighs 17 cwt.
St Cyr’s Church now serves a large community of over 8,000 people in a lively small town. The church is currently embarking upon an exciting Reordering Project to open up the west end of the church for visitors, installing new kitchen and toilet facilities, as well as upgrading its lighting and heating.