The Church of All Saints, Turkdean has now reopened and welcomes all visitors for private prayer daily between 9am and 5pm.
The parish and hamlet of Turkdean stands in rolling Cotswold countryside between Northleach and Bourton-on-the-Water. <span style="font-size: 1rem;">Turkdean is now a small community of less than 40 dwellings and about 60 souls, scattered across the hills and valleys, but with an (unsignposted) concentration of houses around the Church of All Saints which, together with the nearby K6 telephone box, represent the village's only public buildings.</span>
Although now small, the community's history is lengthy. The popular Channel 4 archaeology programme "Time Team" dedicated their Bank Holiday weekend "live" dig in August 1997 (Series 5 Episode 4) to the excavation of the remains of a large Roman villa just outside the village. The existence of the Roman community gives credence to the possibility that there may have been a Saxon church at Turkdean, but there is now little physical evidence of that and All Saints Church today represents a 15th, or possibly early 16th century rebuilding of a Norman church that was dedicated originally to St Mary by the knight Robert d'Oilgi, whose ownership of the manor was recorded in the Doomsday Book.
The oldest standing fabric of the church is now the nave which dates from the early 12th century structure, but remnants of the original Norman building were built back in to the walls of the church at the time of the 15th century rebuilding. It was at this time that a new South aisle was constructed and the tower was added. Significant improvement and refurbishment programmes were carried out in 1839 and in 1897, when the population of the village peaked at over 300 and justified the construction of a congregation "overflow" gallery, which was subsequently removed as the agricultural depression of the late 19th century saw the dramatic reduction of the village's population.
Further renovations were undertaken in 1967 and it was during these works that, regrettably, the early 14th century wall-paintings, including a large figure that was probably a representation of St Christopher, together with a large early 17th century armorial over the chancel arch were over-painted with whitewash. As a result only a very small ephemeral section of this decoration now survives. (An expert report commissioned in 2008 concluded that restoration of these wall-paintings could only partially restore portions of these paintings at best and on this basis wall-painting restoration has not been taken forward thus far.)
A more recent programme of refurbishment funded by parishioners was completed in 2018 with rather greater consideration for the ancient fabric.
Although there are three bells in All Saints' tower, including <span style="font-size: 1rem;">a 5cwt tenor bell cast by Edward Neale of Burford in 1641 and </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">a second bell cast by John of Gloucester in the 14th century, c</span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">urrently only the tenor bell can be swing chimed. A 2019 inspection revealed that even swing chiming will require the replacement of the wheel spokes with a new metal lever in 2020 and before John of Gloucester’s 14th century bell could be brought back into use the headstock would require repair and the medieval bell frame would require significant strengthening. However such strengthening and repair might also allow two, or perhaps even all three bells to be rung once again. Consideration is now also being given to re-hanging the small </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">50lb sanctus bell also cast by Edward Neale in Burford in 1663 in the Nave.</span>
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">The Christian community in this small village continues to worship God in this beautiful building and now holds a slightly eccentric BCP Matins service with Holy Communion at 10.30am on the fourth Sunday of each month. In addition to this monthly Matins service, Christmas is celebrated with a candlelit service of readings and carols, a special Benefice service is also held "in the round" on Maundy Thursday and a "Floral Choral" Evensong is held in the Summer, when all the parishes of the Northleach Benefice come together with impressive floral displays filling the Church and glorious music from the Northleach choir.</span>
The Church is open every day from 9:00am until 5:00pm (or dusk if earlier in Winter.)
As part of the Northleach Benefice, All Saints Turkdean entered an interregnum period following the departure of our former Rector in June 2019. We are delighted that ✝David Jennings is "looking after us" during the consequent Vacancy.