A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Closure of Clearwell Chapel

Closure of Clearwell Cemetery Chapel.

53 Clearwell, Cemetery Chapel

From Isabel Winstanley:

‘In his book John Middleton Victorian, Provincial Architect, Brain refers to the Mortuary Chapel and says it is in a poor state of repair and there has been talk of demolition. This would be a great loss as it is an integral part of Clearwell, the closest we come to a ‘Middleton Village’.

I am ‘lead’ on trying to conserve the chapel and have the support of the Parochial Church Council, Forest of Dean Building Control, local conservators, Diocesan architect and DACs. Our intention is to conserve the chapel and raise the profile of John Middleton in Clearwell and then to a wider audience.
We seek your support and ask if you would be prepared to put the attached press release, or any information contained in it, on your web site. We would be glad to know if you have any contacts the press release can be circulated to.
Kind Regards
Isabel Winstanley
Ass. Church Warden
Mid-Wyedean Parish
Interim Minster Revd. Alan Wearmouth
Parish Coordinator Alison Stuttart
01594 368849


Closure of Clearwell Cemetery Chapel.

Concerns for public safety at Clearwell cemetery chapel have led to it being fenced off and access forbidden as the entrance door is in danger of collapse from the weight of the  damaged rose window above it, caused by a large tree growing next to the chapel door.The tree was recently cut down in the hope that this will prevent further movement to the west wall but it will take some time to know to what degree the wall has stabilised. The Cemetery (Mortuary) Chapel was designed by the renowned Gothic Revival architect
John Middleton in 1867. Middleton was engaged by the Dowager Countess Caroline Dunraven whose family owned the estate at Clearwell until the late 19th century. Caroline’s ancestor bought the estate in 1642 and Thomas Wyndham built Clearwell Court 1727.

The Countess engaged Middleton on the remodelling of Clearwell Court, she also used his
services in the design for the building of St Peter’s Church 1866, a fine example of Gothic Revival style. Middleton was responsible for designing the frontal of St Anne’s well, repairing the 14th Century cross and designing the Cottage Hospital which is now Dunraven House.

Clearwell has been referred to as ‘John Middleton Village’ as it has the largest collection of his work in one place in the UK. This is a remarkable accolade for Clearwell and offers an opportunity for the future enhancement of its architectural heritage in the form of a heritage trail.

John Middleton was a major designer of railway buildings for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company before taking a mysterious career break in Italy and then coming to work in Gloucestershire several years later.

The Parochial Church Council wishes to meet with those interested in finding a future for the chapel which is open to a range of possible re-uses. ‘Our aim’, said the Interim Minster the Rev Alan Wearmouth, ‘is to preserve this historical building for which our parish has no use and which we cannot afford to repair and maintain. It would be a sad loss if it was to fall into total disrepair’. The Parochial Church Council is anxious to ensure that local family associations are respected , as for example, in caring for various plaques which are contained within the building. The Parochial Church Council would also like to hear from anyone with the requisite skills and equipment to remove diseased trees and those growing too close to the chapel. They would be glad for someone to take down the trees and remove the firewood.

A public meeting will be held at Clearwell, in the meantime anyone interested should
contact the Parish Co-ordinator Alison Stuttard on 01594 368849.

Mid-Wyedean Parish
6a St John’s Street
Coleford GL16 8AR




Dear Richard, Would it be possible to put a notice on your web page, please. There has been a deterioration in the rose window and roof tiles. We now have permission to carry out ‘holding repairs’ and received a quote for the work for £6,934 plus VAT. This should secure the building for the next five years giving us time to ensure it is handed over to a suitable organisation. Our fund raiser is busy raising the money required but if anyone can assist or make a contribution to save this chapel please contact Isabel on 07742 548222.


For Further information see:

‘John Middleton’ – The full text of Brian Torode’s book:

John Middleton and Son, Architects – Fuller text produced by Brian for Libraries etc:

John Middleton and Son – Coloured illustrations for the book:

‘Middleton and St. David’s College, Lampeter’:

Cheltenham Ladies College:



3 comments on “Closure of Clearwell Chapel

  1. Cynthia Ruth
    November 1, 2017

    There will be a public meeting concerning the future of the Mortuary Chapel at the Memorial Hall, Clearwell, on the 8th December at 7:30pm. The Revd Alan Wearmouth will be interviewed by Richard Atkins on BBC Radio Gloucester Sunday 5th November at 7:40am.

    We are hopeful that people will come forward to assist in the conservation of this beautiful chapel.

  2. Isabel Winstanley
    December 11, 2017

    Around 30 people attended the public meeting. We have enough interest to form a Trust as well as volunteers who have skills that can be drawn on.

    I am organising a meeting for late January when we will have help and guidance for setting up a Trust from an experienced Trust person. I will post the date once it is arranged.

    If you are interested in becoming a trustee or have skills that we can use, please get in touch.

  3. Isabel Winstanley
    January 31, 2018

    A meeting to set up a Trust to manage the future of the chapel will be held at the Memorial Hall, Clearwell on Thursday 2nd of February 10am. It will be led by Jim Chapman who is experienced in saving buildings and setting up Trusts. We welcome interest from anyone with skills or would who serve on a Trust.

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2017 by in John Middleton and tagged , , , , .
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