A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

St Mary of the Angels, Brownshill also known as ‘Templewood Chapel’

(1) Gallery of Photographs 

(2) John Fendley: ‘The Little Company of Hope and the tradition of spiritual healing at Brownshill’

(3) Links with Rodmarton Manor



(1) Gallery of Photographs 


The Chapel was built in 1937 to the designs of William Douglas Caroe (1858-1938) for the Little Company of Hope. This order was founded by Bertha Kessler and Katherine Hudson who both died in 1963.

Templewood Chapel also has a link with Rodmarton Manor, the famous Arts and Crafts house and garden created by Margaret Biddulph and her husband, Claud.

The glass in the chapel is by Douglas Strachan (1875-1950)

Since 2011 the chapel has been in the care of Friends of Friendless Churches


Three from before the Chapel was closed:


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Brownshill a

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(2) John Fendley: ‘The Little Company of Hope and the tradition of spiritual healing at Brownshill’

Journal 41, Gloucestershire Catholic History Society, Summer 2002


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(3) Links with Rodmarton Manor

There was a Catholic mission at Rodmarton, provided mainly for a school evacuated from Finchley during the war. The owners of the Manor House, the Hon. Claud William Biddulph and his wife, Margaret, gave hospitality to the school girls, one boy and the Nuns of the Congregation of Marie Auxiliatrice, and allowed the chapel attached to the house to be used by them for the duration of the war. After the war ended the school continued to come back for a further three years of summer schools. There were over 150 children living at Rodmarton. Father Theodore Bailey O.S.B. of Prinknash was the regular chaplain there during the war years.

Margaret Biddulph was born on 23 March 1880, the daughter of Alfred John and Mary Alice Howard, and she was a passionate gardener and supported rural crafts and traditions. She had married Claud on 12 December 1906 and later became a Roman Catholic.

When the school finally returned to Finchley, the chapel ceased to be used as a place of Catholic worship, and Father Theodore returned to Prinknash. Shortly after Claud’s death in 1954, Margaret moved into a small cottage on the estate. Later she went to live at Templewood, Brownshill. On 21st June 1970 Margaret died aged ninety years.

In an article in the Telegraph, Simon Biddulph recalled his grandmother’s later years, spent in a nunnery, after she converted to Rome – she abandoned the Church of England after “a terrible row with a bishop”. “She had a strong sense of mission,” he thinks. John Rothenstein remembered her “presiding over house and village like the abbess of some great medieval religious house . . . the animating and directing force”.

Jenny Bailey writing in ‘The Annunciation’ for Easter 2013 mentions that:

‘Marks on the pillars (of the chapel) show where Stations of the Cross had been fixed. All of this is presumably why, in her latter years after Margaret was widowed, she left the village to join the Little Company of Hope at Brownshill, an order of Dominican Tertiaries, as one of their most respected counsellors. While living there, she made embroidery for the interior of St. Mary of the Angels plus two appliqued pictures in the same style as the hangings in the Manor.’



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Talk to Stroud Civic Society by Alec Hamilton on W.D. Caroe 2016

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Talk to Stroud Civic Society by Alec Hamilton on W.D. Caroe 2016



Visit of Maisemore Local History Society 24th May 2017

7 comments on “St Mary of the Angels, Brownshill also known as ‘Templewood Chapel’

  1. Kitty
    November 5, 2017

    Richard, thankyou for such a valuable resource. I am writing from Perth, Western Australia, where I now live, but I used to spend much time near Stroud and had always wanted to know more about St Mary of the Angels and, in paritcular, the two remarkable women behind it and the community it serviced. Thankyou once again. Regards, Tony Ingram

    • Richard Barton
      November 5, 2017

      I am so pleased it has been of use. I was involved a little with it being vested in the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches. It was nearly turned into a house. Thank you so much for commenting I really appreciate it. Kind regards Richard

  2. .Mrs Margaret Ormonde
    August 20, 2019

    Fond memories being employed by the woman who took over when Hudson and Kessler died suddenly close together. Mother Philomena Murray took charge after teaching Australia for some years. She was only supposed to visit but remained there until she died . My husband Tom Ormonde tended their farm for over 30years.

    • Richard Barton
      August 20, 2019

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment. I seem to recall that my father, Jack Barton, a sales rep for West Midland Farmers, used to visit the farm in the 1970s. With kindest regards Richard

      • Richard Barton
        August 20, 2019

        I think that it was Skaiteshill Farm that he visited.

    • Rachel Joyce
      April 5, 2020

      We now live at Vine Farm House. Would love to know more about it, if you have time. The other day I met a nurse who remembered playing in the orchard as a girl.

      • Richard Barton
        April 5, 2020

        Hi Rachel, if you drop me an email to I will forward it to a friend, Jenny, who may be able to help you. With kindest regards Richard

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