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St. Anne's Church, Siston, viewed from the southeast
Siston is located in Gloucestershire
 Siston shown within Gloucestershire
Civil parish Siston Civil Parish
District South Gloucestershire
Shire county Gloucestershire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SISTON
Postcode district BS37
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
List of places

Coordinates: 51°28′29″N 2°27′00″W / 51.4746°N 2.4501°W / 51.4746; -2.4501

Siston or Syston is a small village in South Gloucestershire, England 7 miles (11 km) east of Bristol Castle, ancient centre of Bristol, recorded historically as Syston, Sistone, Syton, Sytone and Systun etc. The village lies at the confluence of the two sources of the Siston Brook, a tributary of the River Avon. The village consists of a number of cottages and farms centred on St Anne's Church, and the grand Tudor manor house of Siston Court. Anciently it was bordered to the west by the royal Hunting Forest of Kingswood, stretching most of the way to Bristol Castle, always a royal possession,caput of the Forest. The local part of the disafforested Kingswood became Siston Common but has recently been eroded by the construction of the Avon Ring Road and housing developments. A conservation area since 1989, the village and environs have statutory protection from overdevelopment.


At the time of the Roman conquest the area was woodland, but there is evidence of Roman remains. It has been known throughout time as Sistone, Siston, Systun, Syton, and Sytone. It may be named for "Size-town" or may have been derived from the Saxon "Sige's Farmstead".[1] In 1273, lords in Siston used Marchling as part of their agricultural practices; at that time marl was reportedly spread on two carucates of land.[2]

Manor of Siston[edit]

Main article: Manor of Siston

The Manor of Siston is an ancient manor of the small village of Siston, in the Hundred of Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire. In 1086, Roger of Berkeley was the lord and tenant-in-chief.[3]

Siston Court[edit]

Siston Court in 1712. Engraving by Dutchman Jan Kip (1653–1722) published 1712 in Sir Robert Atkyns's The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire. Viewed from E.
Further information: Denys family of Siston

Siston Court, grade one-listed Elizabethan manor,[4][5] was built by Sir Maurice Denys (1516–1563).[6][7] It was constructed on the site of a previous medieval mansion on a ridge overlooking the Siston Brook Valley.[4] The building was U-shaped with a courtyard in the center.[8] In 1607, Siston Court was owned by Mr. Weekes who intended to sell the property. It had a stone manor, coal mine and a deer park.[7][nb 1] By 1710, when the Britannia Illustrata published an image of the estate, the manor was surrounded by "extensive formal landscaped gardens." The following century, landscaping changes resulted in a park-like setting with a "more natural garden". Sanderson Miller, an architect, may have influenced the creation of informal gardens; He married Susannah Trotman, daughter of Edward who owned Siston Court.[4][10][nb 2]

Estate Lodges to Siston Court, Grade II* listed buildings.[12]

The 18th century "pepper-pot" lodges and 19th century "The Grange", once a home to the nurseryman, may have been influenced by Miller, whose style included the "ogee-shaped roofs and door heads and Gothic Revival windows alternating with cross-loops."[13][nb 3]

The property adjoined the Royal Forest of Kingswood to the west, and claimed right of "Purlieu" over a portion of it.[15] The pair of now empty niches on the internal facade of the wings are similar to the niches on the facade of Montacute House, Somerset,[16] which contain statues of the Nine Worthies, dressed as Roman soldiers, Italian Renaissance in inspiration.[17]

Homes were built for people who worked at Siston Court in the 18th and 19th century. During the 20th century the estate was subdivided, and farm land was converted to woodland by the Forestry Enterprise or paddocks for ponies.[4][nb 4] The ornate Renaissance Tudor chimneypiece in the hall was shipped to Addis-Ababa Palace by Emperor Haile Selasse.[18][nb 5] Siston Court still retains much of the character of the 16th century manor and its original Elizabethan façade.[8][nb 6] In the middle of the 20th century the manor was subdivided into flats.[5]

Royal visits[edit]

Queen Anne of Denmark[edit]

Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, stayed at Siston Court in June 1613[21][22] whilst waiting to board ship at Bristol, as guest of Sir Henry Billingsley. She had been lavishly entertained by the Corporation of Bristol during the day, with massive military displays and mock sea battles between Turk and English mariners having been staged for her, immortalised in a versified account by Naile.[22] According to a Siston Court servant, she stayed in the "room upstairs called 'the Queen's Chamber'".[23]

Edward VIII[edit]

The Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, visited the Court as guest of the Rawlins family.[24]

Mounts Court[edit]

The Court was demolished in 1922.[citation needed]

Katherine Parr[edit]

Sir Maurice Denys's patron was thought to have been Admiral Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley the ambitious and reckless younger brother of Protector Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, brother of Queen Jane Seymour and uncle to Edward VI. Having been refused by Princess Elizabeth, he was determined to wed the ex-Queen Katherine Parr, even before a 9-month delay, considered by courtiers to have been seemly and constitutionally prudent, had expired. It may have been as a result of Denys's complicity in these arrangements that Katherine, widowed by Henry VIII in 1547, resided for 8 weeks of her future short life in a house within the vicinity of Siston, known as Mount's Court, held by the Strange family.[25][26]

Siston Conservation Area[edit]

On 23 October 1989, the area was designated as the Siston Conservation Area to protect historical sites such as Siston Court and its buildings, and the hamlet of Siston, including St Anne's Church and historic farms, cottages and open fields.[1]


St. Anne's Church[edit]

Norman doorway, St. Anne's Church. The tympanum depicts the Tree of Life. The bullet marks on the oak door are said to be those of Cromwell's troops who used the church as stables on the way to the Battle of Lansdowne, 1642.[27]

The original Norman church was built of rubble in the mid-12th century.[28][29] St Anne Church, located between Siston Court and the village of Siston, is at the edge of open fields and has scenic views of the countryside.[29] It was rebuilt and had expansions in the 13th, and 17th through the 20th centuries.[28][29] It has a south chapel and a gabled south porch and west tower. A tree of life is carved into a tympanum above the south doorway. The "most important feature" of the interior is a 12th-century lead font. Many of the features and furnishings in the interior date from the 17th to 19th centuries.[28] South of the church is the formal Georgian rectory. In 1839, according to a tithe map, the church had a formal garden, which is now the site of the church hall.[29]

Baptismal font[edit]

Leaden baptismal font, St Anne's Church, Siston. The Rawlins paintings can be seen on the chancel arch.

The 12th-century baptismal font is of lead,[28] unusual in England.[30][nb 7] The Siston font displays six figures, three of which seem to be of Christ, as a nimbus is shown. The other three may be some of the Four Evangelists, who hold their own gospels and bless with two fingers of their right hands. It appears that the prototype of this font, as the finer versions show, had twelve figures, possibly the Twelve Apostles. There are twelve niches shown on the Siston font, but six are filled with acanthus scroll-work.[citation needed]

Wall paintings[edit]

In the 1900s, Mrs. Rawlins, a resident of Siston Court, made a large Pre-Raphaelite wall-painting in the church about the chancel arch,[31][32] based upon fresco designed by Edward Burne-Jones for the Florence Palazzo Riccardi.[32][33] Daughters of Mrs. Rawlins (or Rawlings) were models for some of the angels in the painting.[31][32]


Although the feudal manor historically was held from the Abbey of Bath and Wells, the parish church fell within the Diocese of Worcester. The advowson, or right of patronage, previously vested in Lords of the Manor, was donated in perpetuity by Mr J E Rawlins in 1937 to the Bishops of Bristol.[34] Previously, in 1916, Rawlins had donated extra land for the graveyard to the north of the church.[35]

Church of St Barnabas[edit]

Church of St Barnabas, a grade II listed building, was built by James Park Harrison in 1849. The Decorated style building is made of rubble with a west tower, and broach spire.[36]

Ebeneezer Chapel[edit]

The Methodist Ebeneezer Chapel was built in 1810 of "rendered walling with stone coping".[37]

Siston Common[edit]

Siston Common, or "the Commons", is an area that runs across the width of the parish with bridleways and footpaths. It had been used by farmers to allow their cattle, goats, horses, ducks and chickens to graze.[38]

Siston Parish Council[edit]

The Siston Parish Council is served by unpaid councillors. The council serves for four years. They meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month in the Warmley Community Center to manage affairs related to Siston, like bus shelters, local planning, and rural footpaths.[39]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He offered the sale of the manor to the Earl of Salisbury, who was reported to not have received the offer letters.[9]
  2. ^ Dickins and Stanton claimed that Susanna's father was Samuel.[11]
  3. ^ Miller drafted plans on the back of a letter for a "Poor's House" inscribed "Siston, Nov.21 1759". Hester Miller, his daughter, married Siston Court resident, Fiennes Trotman.[10][14]
  4. ^ The style also reflected the landscaping styles of William Kent and Capability Brown.[4]
  5. ^ John Harris, in his book Moving Rooms, states that the hall chimney was removed by Charles Angell in 1936.[19]
  6. ^ An image of an interior from 1930 can be seen in W.J. Robinson's "Siston Court" showing Oliver Cromwell's cavalry jack boots, left behind by him.[20]
  7. ^ Only about 38 leaden fonts survive in England, nine of which are in Gloucestershire, the greatest number in any county.[30] Other similar fonts exist in the Lady Chapel, Gloucester Cathedral (given to the cathedral in 1940, originally from St. James's Church, Lancaut, Glos., now ruined); at Frampton-on-Severn; Rendcomb-St-Peter and at Dorchester Abbey.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Siston Conservation Area. South Glouchestershire Council. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  2. ^ H. E. Hallam; Joan Thirsk; H. P. R. Finberg. (1988). The Agrarian history of England and Wales: 1042–1350. Edited by H.E. Hallam. Cambridge University Press. p. 378. Retrieved 9 July 2013. ISBN 978-0-521-20073-8.
  3. ^ Siston Domesday Online. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Siston Conservation Document – Supplementary Planning Document. South Glouchester Council. pp. 2, 4, 5, 7.
  5. ^ a b Siston Court. British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  6. ^ Bindoff, S.T. (1982). The House of Commons 1509–1558. London. 2. pp. 31–33
  7. ^ a b Cecil Papers: Miscellaneous 1607, Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House, 16–30, Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House. 19: (1965) [1607], pp. 433 (124.72) Retrieved 8 July 2013. Name spelled Sir Morris Dennis.
  8. ^ a b Siston Conservation Document – Supplementary Planning Document. South Glouchester Council. p. 10.
  9. ^ Cecil Papers: December 1607, 1–15, Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House. 19: (1965) [1607], p.374 (123.113) Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  10. ^ a b John Burke (1836). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours. Henry Colburn. p. 699. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Lilian Dickins; Mary Stanton (1910). An eighteenth-century correspondence: being the letters of Deane Swift—Pitt—The Lytteltons and the Granvilles—Lord Dacre—Robert Nugent—Charles Jenkinson—the Earls of Guilford, Coventry, & Hardwicke—Sir Edward Turner—Mr. Talbot of Lacock, and others to Sanderson Miller, esq., of Radway. Duffield. p. 123. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ English Heritage. "Lodges to Siston Court  (Grade II*) (1231513)". National Heritage List for England. 
  13. ^ Siston Conservation Document – Supplementary Planning Document. South Glouchester Council. p. 9-10.
  14. ^ Hawkes, H.W. Dissertation on the Architectural Work of Sanderson Miller of Radway. 1964. p. 75.
  15. ^ Cecil Papers. vol 24. 6/5/1609. Re Billingsley's claim.[full citation needed]
  16. ^ Nicholson, Nigel. (1978). National Trust Book of Great Houses. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0-297-77411-5
  17. ^ Nicolson, Nigel (1965) Great houses of Britain. Hamlyn Publishing Group ISBN 0-586-05604-1
  18. ^ Brooke, Gerry. (11 November 2003). A Manor with Many Owners. Bristol Evening Post.
  19. ^ John Harris (2007). Moving Rooms. Yale University Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-300-12420-0. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Robinson, William James. (1930). "Siston Court". West Country Manors. Bristol: St. Stephen's Press. p. 168.
  21. ^ Mark Cartwright Pilkinton (1997). Bristol. University of Toronto Press. p. 293. ISBN 978-0-8020-4221-7. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Adams, William (1625) Chronicle of Bristol, Bristol Record 25486 pp. 278–89[full citation needed]
  23. ^ David Rollison (29 October 1992). The Local Origins of Modern Society: Gloucestershire 1500–1800. Taylor & Francis. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-203-99149-7. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Rourke, Elana. (2010). Siston Court Remembered Pucklechurch.
  25. ^ Rudge, T. History of the County of Gloucester. 2, p.304.[full citation needed]
  26. ^ Robinson, W.J. (1930). "Siston Court". West Country Manors. Bristol. p.169.
  27. ^ Webb, Mary & Gardner, Pamela, The History of St Anne's Church Syston, August 2008
  28. ^ a b c d "Parish Church of St. Anne, Siston". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d Siston Conservation Document – Supplementary Planning Document. South Glouchester Council. pp. 5, 12.
  30. ^ a b Webb & Gardner, 2008, p. 6[full citation needed]
  31. ^ a b St Anne, Syston. Church of England. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  32. ^ a b c Bryant, Alan. Life in Siston and Warmley 1894–1994 Siston Parish Council. Retrieved. 8 July 2013.
  33. ^ Arthur Mee (1938). Gloucestershire: the glory of the Cotswolds. Hodder and Stoughton, limited. p. 356. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  34. ^ London Gazette 19 February 1937[full citation needed]
  35. ^ Conveyance, L B H Dickinson to Rector and Churchwardens of above land as addition to churchyard; with plan, scale 1: 2500 Declaration by Rector and Churchwardens respecting status of land, burial fees etc. Bristol Archives (search on record EP/A/22/S/2) [6456/7] EP/A/22/S/2. 7 November 1916.
  36. ^ Church of St Barnabas. British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  37. ^ Ebeneezer Chapel. British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  38. ^ News – The Commons. Siston Parish Council. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  39. ^ The Role of Your Parish Council. Siston Parish Council. Retrieved 9 July 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]