St. Mary’s, is a predominantly Norman church, with one or two earlier features (in particular the Saxon lintel of the old door in the south nave wall) and many later ones. Side, or Cide was a Saxon settlement on the “side” of the hill overlooking the river Frome, which, after the Conquest, was given to Ansfrid, Abbot of Corneilles, as detailed in the Domesday Book. At this point, the village is recorded as having a priest, suggesting that a church building was already present. By the end of the 11th century the manor had passed to the Giffards, whose castle was in nearby Brimpsfield (see the entry for Brimpsfield parish). After the fall of the Giffards, it was given to the Lords of Berkeley, who, in 1334 established 4 chantry houses where masses were sung for the souls of the founders. Syde’s Chantry can be found halfway down the hill on the road from Syde to Caudle Green. Another reminder of everyday medieval village life can be seen in the great 14th century Tithe Barn next to the church, where tithes in the form of hides, fleeces, timber, corn and other produce, were gathered together for the Abbeys of Gloucester and Cirencester.
Today, St. Mary’s remains a much-loved focus of village life, as well as a frequent calling point for walkers. We still use the original gas lighting and heating which gives a characteristic smell and atmosphere to our services. The 15th century font continues to be used in the baptism of babies born in the village and the curious 18th century box pews, whilst not comfortable enough to allow dozing off during the sermon, are at least an improvement on rushes on the floor which are recorded as being used before the Reformation.