Tormarton Village

About our Village

Tormarton is a small village in South Gloucestershire located just north of the M4 motorway close to Junction 18, yet far enough away to enjoy a peaceful rural environment. It has a population of about 350 people from a wide variety of backgrounds bringing a wealth of qualifications, skills and abilities to enhance village life.


The village is a very historic place, it roots lying in agriculture. There are still a number of active and successful farms operating within the village environs and a great deal of village life revolves around them. A number of historic buildings remain, including, at the centre of the village, St Mary Magdalene church which dates back to the 12th century and is well worth a visit.

Archaeologists found the remains of five bodies near Tormarton during the construction of the motorway and other excavations in the area, the bodies were thought to be over 3,000 years old. A detailed account of these finds can be found in the ‘Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society’. You can find out more about the society at, and read the original article by following the link provided below.

Prehistoric Skeletons from Tormarton by R. W. Knight et al

Please follow the links to see detailed pages on local history and the activites of the church through the ages.

Tormarton does not have any shops or schools. It does however have some local businesses, including a pub, hotel, and a number of homes offering Bed & Breakfasts accommodation. The closest amenities are to be found in Marshfield , Chipping Sodbury, and Yate. The historical city of Bath is a short distance to the South. The National Trust property, Dryham House situated in Dyrham Park is located two or three miles south of the village on the A46. A Google location map for the village can be found under the menu item above or here.

Whether you are looking for a base for visiting historic and picturesque Cotswold villages or for enjoying famous attractions such as the World Heritage Roman city of Bath or Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol, or the beautiful Arboretum at Westonbirt, you will be within easy reach by car. For those who prefer to walk, there are many local footpaths across lovely countryside and the Cotswold Way, designated as a National Trail in 1988, runs right through the village.

Village History






The ancient village of Tormarton received its name from the Tower (Tor) of the Church, and from Meark, which in the Saxon language means Boundary (between Mercia and Wessex). The Domesday Book says that it was taxed at eight hides and that it paid a yearly rent of £12 in the reign of King Edward the Confessor, and £15 in the reign of William the Conqueror. There were twenty plow‑tillages, whereof eight were in demean (lower in dignity). It was in the Beredston Hundred.


The manor anciently belonged to the family of de la Rivere, and was a very large house standing on the south side of the church‑adjoining the present churchyard. Most of it was demolished in the Great Rebellion (1642‑1649), but a section (including a large kitchen and old fire‑places) remains, and forms part of the present Manor Farm. The de la Rivere coat of arms may still be seen on the exterior of the end wall facing the church. Richard de la Rivere had a grant of fairs in Tormarton and of free‑warren in all his lands in England under Henry III. He also held the hamlet of Littleton.

He was in rebellion against King Edward II and had his lands forfeited. But they were restored in the reign of Edward III. This manor was held by knight’s service. It passed to his son John. Later it changed hands many times. In these days too, the church owned one hundred acres of glebe land. The small cottage on the north‑west side of the present churchyard was once part of a college of priests.

The large house on the other side of the road, nearly opposite the church, is Tormarton Court. It was at one time the old Rectory. To the south‑west is another large house called “The Old Hundred.” The name ” Hundred” has several possible meanings. The dictionary definition is ” a subdivision of county or shire, having its own court.” There are also two old curates’ houses in the village. The first, known as ” the Wellhay,” is behind what used to be the Post Office. The second is St. Mary’s Cottage, on the corner of the main street next to the small School, now closed, and converted into a delightful dwelling house.

A description of the village written nearly 300 years ago says, “the parish is seven miles in compass; it consists of arable. There are thirty houses in this parish, and about 130 inhabitants, whereof four are freeholders.

There are found in the north fields, stones, about the size of pistol bullets, which being broken look like iron ones. There are many cockle‑shells incorporated into large stones. A spring arising in Dodington, within a quarter of a mile of this parish, and called Tomery Well, has the petrifying quality of turning `wood into stone.” In 1825 there were 62 houses with 320 inhabitants ‑ much the same as today. It was then in the Hundred of Grumbold’s Ash.

St Mary Magdalene

Dedication in the name of St. Mary Magdalene.


The Church was originally under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester who “appropriated it ” to the Benedictine Abbey of Malmesbury in the reign of Edward III (1327‑1377). In the reign of Henry VIII the lands of Tormarton belonged to the Black Canons of the priory of Bradenstoke in Wiltshire.

The Church was by then under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Worcester. At the end of the fifteenth century it was in the deanery of Hawkesbury. The presence of Saxon stones mostly in Tower mean that there was probably a church here before the Norman Conquest.

Domesday Book date 1085‑6 states that there was a priest at Tormarton, which infers that there was a church here then, dating from Anglo‑Saxon days. ‘This AngloSaxon church must have been pulled down in order to build a Norman church of which there remain the 2 lowest stages of the Tower and the Arch and walls of the chancel, and the Tower Arch, all of which are late Norman. The chancel arch has remarkably fine capitals at the head of the pillars and two rows of zigzag. The uppermost stage of the Tower is in the ” Perpendicular ” style and dates from XV century.

Outside the east end of the chancel are two Norman “string‑courses” (raised horizontal hands running round or along the building). The upper one has what is called the “wheat‑ear” moulding and is not found except at Tormarton Church and Norwich Cathedral. The lower string‑course, which is “returned” on the North and South chancel walls, consists of the “billet” moulding – a very common Norman feature. Both these string‑courses have been cut into by the present East window and were covered entirely with ivy which was removed in 1913.

The north wall of the Nave (body of the church) is early English (XIII century). The south aisle with pillars and arches was added when Sir John de Rivere founded a college of priests here. The altar in this aisle was dedicated in the name of Blessed Virgin Mary. (This part of the church is in the “Decorated” style of architecture. This south aisle belonged for many years to the lords of the manor.

The Font is very graceful and beautiful. It is a most unusual shape and is Norman in style, with a rather later shaft. It was moved to its present position in 1907 from near the Lectern. The circular step is modern.

The Pulpit is a fine example of the Jacobean style (time of King James I, 1603 or later). The base of the pulpit is quite recent (1907).

The Altar and reredos date from 1907 and are both of oak. The reredos has never been completed.

The South Porch dates from 1854 and was a part of the general “restoration” of the church.

The Western Annexe to the Tower forms a porch and seems to have been originally of the same date as the Tower itself, and to have been rebuilt probably in the 17th century. There seems to have been three doorways of which the West doorway is that still in use. The North and South Doorways were evidently walled up when the porch was re‑built. Their purpose cannot be explained.

At Barton‑on‑Humber in Lincolnshire there is a somewhat similar porch or annexe at the west end of the church, of Saxon or very Early Norman origin, and this is supposed to have formed a “galilee” or entrance vestibule to the Tower, which was the Nave or main body of the church. There was also a similar annexe opening eastward out of the Tower and containing the Altar and a space for the officiating Priest. This was afterwards pulled down to make room for the Present Nave and Chancel. The foundations of this small eastward annexe still exist at Barton‑on‑Humber beneath the floor of the Nave.

There may possibly have been a similar develop­ment at Tormarton Church. The West porch had an upper storey, forming a room lighted by a window over the doorway. The floor of this chamber is gone but its place can still be traced.

There is an unusual feature in the diagonally placed passage or “ambulatory” between the chancel and the east end of the South Aisle.

At the eastern end of the south wall of the chancel is a square ” aumbry ” or cupboard of which the door is missing. This was for the safe keeping of the Reserved Sacrament and of the chalice and paten.

Next to this is an arched recess which no doubt contained the “piscina” which was a shallow basin cut in the stone and having a drain for the water used in the cleansing of the sacred vessels. At this point in the wall outside the church is a walled‑in recess resembling what is usually called a “low‑side” or “lepers’ window. This must have been walled‑up when the aumbry and piscina were made near the High Altar.

Windows. East window is Decorated and dates only from the “restoration” of 1854. What was there before it is impossible to say, but probably a “churchwardens” window in a plain wooden frame!

The East window of the South Aisle has glass representing the Parable of the Good Samaritan: Date 1867. There is a stained glass window of hectic colouring in the middle window of the Nave, rather in the Munich style but by Gibbs. Date 1871. Subject‑Pool of Siloam. The old glass from the East Window was placed in the West window of the side aisle.

Monuments etc.

1. A beautiful “brass” in the floor of the Nave. A man in civilian clothes with a “penner and inkhorn” at his girdle. The inscription is in Latin and is enriched by charming little designs between each of the words: The English as follows:

“Pray for the soul of John Ceysill formerly servant (?steward) of the Honourable Lord John Sandlow (St. Loe) Knight, which John Ceysill closed his life on the Eve of St. Bartholomew the Apostle (i.e. August 23rd) in the year of our Lord 1493 and ninth year of King Henry VII On whose soul may the Most High God have mercy. Amen.”

2. On a large slab in the floor of the chancel is the matrix or outline of the brass figure of Sir John de la Rivere who rebuilt the body of the Church in Edward III’s reign. The brass has long been stolen. but the outline shows him in armour and holding in his hand the model of a church. He was not (as stated in a brass plate) the “Founder” of Tormarton Church but was a great benefactor and the founder of the chantry in the South Aisle and of the College of Priests here. This college consisted of a Warden who was also Rector of the parish, and four “chaplains.” Its existence had been forgotten until a document was found in the 19th century in the Vatican Library at Rome (Vol. VII of Papal Registers) dated 1417 to 1430, and being a Mandate to the Bishop of Worcester that one of the chaplaincies was to be suppressed on account of insufficient endowments.

3. A quaint inscription on the wall under the East Window of the aisle to the memory of two Russells, father and son, who were stewards of the manor to the Marquess of Newcastle for 90 years‑and in memory of Katherine, wife of Gabriel Russell, dated 1667. They were faithful we are told.

“Here Gabriell Russell lies whos watchful eyes:
Where William, Marquess of Newcasele, spies:
Over three parishes this onely hands:
Were three entrusted with his lordships lands:
Full ninty yeares my father and I, ware servants to that nobillyty:
But all that knew them did them witnes bare,
Of their just dealings, loyalty and care
And for their comfort here below:
One and twenty children could they show.”

4. There is a stone tablet with two cherubs and a coat‑of-arms showing a mailed fist gripping a bloody hand; it is to Edward Topp who once held the Manor.
And the inscription reads:‑

“Near lyeth inter’d the body of Mr. Edward Topp, son of Lingen Topp of Witton in ye County of Salop. Esq. Late High Sherriffe of that County: and son of Alexander Topp of Witton, Esq. Son of John Topp of Stockton in the County of Wilts. Esq. who departed this life ye 15th day of May, in the 50th yeare of his Age and in the yeare of our Lord 1699.”

” Fortior est Quise.”

In the tower there is room for a peal of bells, but we have only one!

A Scratch‑dial (old sun‑dial) may be seen by those with good eyesight high up on the N.W. corner of the tower. It is upside down, and was evidently removed from its original and correct position on the south side of the Nave exterior at one of the restorations.

The avenue of yews leading to the church is probably over 400 years old.

The Tormarton Trail Walk

Start Point – Portcullis Inn, Tormarton
Distance – 7Km (4.5 miles)
Difficulty – Easy
Time – 2-3 hours
Refreshments – The Major’s Retreat, and The Compass Inn at Tormarton


Reproduced by kind permission Gwynne Stock


The trial follows paths and lanes across an ancient open farmed landscape from the historic village of Tormarton and descends through an important Cotswold estate – Dodington Park.

1 Starting outside the Portcullis lnn in Tormarton, head west through the village to the kissing gate adjacent the Old School House. From here the walk follows the route of the Cotswold Way

National Trail. Follow the Cotswold Way National Trail signs, cross several fields, stone stiles and lanes to reach the main A46 road. Cross the A46 taking extra care at this busy road, and continue down into Dodington Park.

2 Descend into Dodington Park, crossing the footbridge that marks the source of the River Frome and the start of its 30km journey to the River Avon in the heart of Bristol. Continue to follow the Cotswold Way National Trail way‑markers through the park.

3 After around Ikm, the path swings left and drops down hill. Dodington House lies mostly hidden but occasional tantalising glimpses of its domed roof can be seen in the woods below to your left. Follow the path down to the old stone bridge. After crossing the stone bridge, bear left and cross the estate road, taking care as this section can be muddy in winter months. Continue to Catchpot Lane at Coomb’s End.

4 On reaching Catchpot Lane, we now leave the route of the Cotswold Way National Trail. Turn left and follow the lane for around 2km, passing Garden House to your right with its beautiful red bricked walled garden, several converted old stables and the elegant Home Farm. Note the old mounting block just before the small post box, used for mounting horses. Proceed over the crossroads marking the entrance to Dodington House and begin the climb back up the Cotswold escarpment, passing Shepherds Close Farm on your right. Continue up the lane until you reach Old Farm on your right.

5 Passing Old Farm, turn right to follow the bridleway towards Southfield Clump. The bridleway follows the edge of the field which can be muddy in winter. The bridleway swings left uphill through Southfield Clump and into Long Nursery woodland running adjacent the field edge. Continue through to rejoin the lane where it meets with the B4465 at Dodington Ash.

6 Turn left passing the Turnpike House and circular Bath Lodge to the A46, taking extra care here as this junction is very busy. Cross the A46 with care and take the road signposted to Tormarton. Proceed for 100m, turn right and follow the lane for around 3/4 km towards To rmarton village. Turn left leaving the lane, following the public footpath across several small fields before emerging back into the village and the Portcullis Inn.

The following links provide information about a number of walks in the area

Lady Altrincham Tormarton Village Pond Trust










The village pond and adjacent withy beds were given to the village by the Grigg family as a memorial to Lady Joan Altrincham who lived at Tormarton Court from the early thirties until her death in 1987. Her initials JA have been incorporated into the design of the gate at the road entrance to the pond.


The pond is now a registered charity, owned in trust by the parish council and looked after by a small group of villagers. It is managed sympathetically to conserve and improve the biodiversity of the natural environment while at the same time allowing both villagers and visitors to enjoy the space. There is no public access to the withy beds which provide a quiet and safe haven for nesting birds.

The area is home to a wide variety of birds, small manuals, amphibians and insects. At least 25 different species of birds have been spotted in the area including heron, dove, nuthatch, treecreeper, pied wagtail and woodpecker.

For more information about the pond and its trust please contact Stella Turner by email at

The Lady Altrincham Tormarton Village Pond Trust (LATVP) Sponsorship Scheme

A sponsorship scheme has been set up to help raise funds to maintain and improve the pond and adjacent withy beds.

Those wishing to help the environment and support this important conservation area, situated in the heart of the village, are invited to sponsor a tree or shrub.

Sponsors select a tree/shrub from a list that includes trees that are already in situ and new trees/shrubs that are being planted in the area surrounding the pond to replace the ash trees that were lost due to ash die back disease. They may wish to dedicate the tree to someone special, perhaps a loved one they have lost.

Sponsorship can be anything from £20 to £200+ there is no upper limit! It is up to the sponsor to decide how much they wish to contribute.

All sponsors will be issued with a certificate giving details of the tree and the dedication, if applicable.

The framed certificates make an ideal present for friends and family who would appreciate a ‘green gift’.

Details will also be entered in our ‘Sponsorship Register’ which can be viewed using the link provided below, allowing convenient access to a permanent on-line record.

If you are interested in supporting this initiative and helping to protect a wildlife haven at the centre of the Tormarton community please contact Stella Turner E; or T;01454 218537 M;07375462779

NB; the erection of plaques or any other memorial within the LATVP conservation area is not compatible with the Trusts “objects” laid out in its Governing Document.

Law and Order

Avon and Somerset police are keen to ensure that everyone in our community is able to access information about their local neighbourhood policing team and local officers’ activities. The beat page includes names and photos of the local officers, contact details, local priorities, meeting dates and appeals for information. You can visit the page by clicking on the link here: 

The Playing Field and Pavilion



The availability of a full-size football pitch for hire on Sunday’s has become possible in the village of Tormarton.


Located on the outskirts of Tormarton village, close to Junction 18 of the M4, the pitch affords excellent access for users from both Bristol and Bath areas, as well as wider afield. The pitch has a fully supported clubhouse on site that includes changing rooms, referees room, showers, men and women’s toilets. All providing an attractive opportunity for local clubs who are looking for a new pitch to base themselves from.

If you would like to find out more please email

Parking in the Village

Using the link below please send images to this site of any antisocial or dangerous parking that you have witnessed in or on the approaches to Tormarton village. In your post please include details of both the location and time that the picture was taken in the ‘Subject Line’. This information will be used by the Parish Council to build up a body of evidence for them to lobby for preventative measures to be implemented.


If you feel that the parked vehicle is causing a danger to other motorists or pedestrians the police have asked that you please contact them directly by dialling 101 to report this so they can deal with the situation appropriately.

Report parking issues by clicking here

Previous anonymised posts can be viewed at

Thank you for helping to make Tormarton a safer place for everyone.