Southam is a small village to the south-east of Bishop's Cleeve. We would love to meet you at any of our services. Click here for an accurate map of Bishop's Cleeve ecclesiastical parish (including Southam).
Our pattern of worship is usually:
Monthly pattern of Sunday Services at 9.30am:
1st Sunday - Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer
2nd Sunday - Family Service alternating between the Church and the Village Hall
3rd Sunday - Holy Communion from Common Worship
4th Sunday - Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer
5th Sunday - Joint Service, usually at St Michael's or the Methodist Church in Bishop's Cleeve
In 'civil' terms, Southam village sits in the centre of a rather large parish which stretches well up Cleeve Hill. Southam also has its own church building. But in ecclesiastical terms, Southam is part of Bishop's Cleeve parish. In practice this simply means Bishop's Cleeve is a parish with two churches - St Michael's in Bishop's Cleeve itself, and the Church of the Ascension in Southam.
Among the many oddities of church life in Britain, our little church in Southam certainly has a good story to tell. In mediaeval times the de la Bere manor had a little chapel here, but at the Reformation (~1539) the building was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It soldiered on as a barn until Victorian times, but around 1870 Lord Ellenborough decided to rescue it and set it up as a memorial chapel for his own family. He also welcomed the local folk to worship there as well - probably because most of them worked on his estate, though it's also thought he didn't get on with with the rector at Bishop's Cleeve.
The building lasted into the 20th century as a private chapel, but in 1946 the Diocese of Gloucester took it on as a 'chapel of ease': then in 1957 it formally became a public place of worship in Bishop's Cleeve parish.
The church's name is derived from The Ascension, the event recorded in Acts 1-11. It's a very unusual dedication, but it gives us a delightful excuse to accompany our Ascension Day evening Communion service with a garden party. (In 2013 Ascension Day is Thursday 9 May, and everyone is welcome.)
Very striking is the way Lord Ellenborough fitted the church out with memorials to Viscounts, Earls and Field-Marshalls who died fighting for the British Empire, and more than one of the Lord Chancellors of England. It all makes you think carefully about how our country came to be what we are nowadays, and how history still influences the way we live today.