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Kempley Church - - 1373625.jpg
St Mary's Church, with the oldest roof of any building in Britain
Kempley is located in Gloucestershire
 Kempley shown within Gloucestershire
Population 280 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SO671295
District Forest of Dean
Shire county Gloucestershire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Dymock
Postcode district GL18
Police Gloucestershire
Fire Gloucestershire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Forest of Dean
List of places

Coordinates: 51°57′48″N 2°28′48″W / 51.9634°N 2.4801°W / 51.9634; -2.4801

Kempley is a village in the Forest of Dean district of Gloucestershire, England, close to the border with Herefordshire. It lies 12 miles northwest of Gloucester and is 5 and 8 miles respectively from the market towns of Newent and Ledbury.

The small village (230 residents) has two notable churches, one dedicated to St Mary and another to St Edward the Confessor.

Interior of St Mary's

St Mary's Church, Kempley has in its chancel "the most complete set of Romanesque frescos in northern Europe",[2] including the Christ in Majesty painting created in about 1120. On the walls of the nave are further images, including a wheel of life, showing the life cycle of man. These are worked in tempera painted on dry lime mortar, unlike those in the chancel which are true frescoes. St Mary's Church is owned by English Heritage and maintained by The Friends of Kempley Churches.(Location: 51°58′43″N 2°28′56″W / 51.9787°N 2.4823°W / 51.9787; -2.4823)

The Church has the oldest roof of any building in Britain, dating from 1120-1150[3] and has an unusually well-preserved interior. In the early months of the year, from late February to early March, the churchyard is very beautiful, often being covered in wild daffodils.

St Edward's Church

The Church of St Edward (1903), described by Betjeman as "a mini-cathedral of the Arts and Crafts movement", was built from local materials by local labour, under the direction of Randall Wells, clerk of works at All Saints, Brockhampton-by-Ross. The church was planned by the Lord of the Manor and major landowner, William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp, because St Mary's was too far away from the main centres of population in the parish at Kempley Green and Fishpool, and liable to flooding. The walls of the church are in Forest of Dean red sandstone.

The village maintains the Kempley Tardis (a redundant telephone box) - a National Lottery funded project supported by English Heritage. The project, which is run by the Friends of Kempley Churches, aims to archive and document the entire social, economic and cultural history of the village.

In March 1994 fields near the village were found to contain the remains of two of the victims of serial killer Fred West.


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011.Retrieved 26 March 2015". 
  2. ^ The dazzling walls of medieval England deserve a bold restorer The Guardian 21 March 2008
  3. ^ Treasure House: Church has Britain's oldest roof, The Guardian, 25 May 1999

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