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Our Heritage

There is a remarkable history to St Mary DeCrypt and the Old Schoolroom.

It is remarkable that one single church and its small school should produce in a single generation two world Christian leaders: Robert Raikes and George Whitefield.

Discover DeCrypt is about telling the stories of some of the amazing people associated with this place so that you can discover the Christian story for yourself.

Discover DeCrypt is the project to refurbish and maintain the Grade I listed medieval church of St Mary de Crypt and the adjoining Tudor Schoolroom in the heart of Gloucester, making them accessible to all.  These beautiful buildings are a central part of Gloucester’s heritage and history. As residents moved out of the city centre in the twentieth century, use of the buildings declined. In 2009 the Schoolroom was closed as it had become unsafe.   The project has brought the buildings back into full use as a cultural venue, community hub and place of worship and prayer.

Robert Raikes

Robert Raikes, one of the founders of the Sunday School Movement, was baptised in the church, came to school here and lived opposite in the house which is now the Robert Raikes pub.


George Whitefield

George Whitefield, one of the founders of Methodism, was also baptised here and came to school here. He spoke his first sermon from the pulpit which you can still see.

George Whitefield and Black Lives Matters

Discover DeCrypt is committed to listening, learning, changing and acting to stop racism.

George Whitefield was born and brought up in Gloucester in the 18th century. He was associated with both St Mary de Crypt Church and the Old Crypt Schoolroom. After his move to Georgia, US, Whitefield kept slaves and campaigned to make slavery lawful. As we learn more about our history,  Discover DeCrypt reaffirms our commitment to racial justice. We lament the systemic failures of the past and the present, both in church and society. We commit to love, respect, honour and care for each of our brothers and sisters.   


St Mary DeCrypt

St Mary de Crypt is a Grade I listed church and regarded as one of Gloucester’s most important medieval churches. It is of Norman origin and was substantially rebuilt in the late 1300s.

The Old Crypt Schoolroom

Right next to St Mary de Crypt is the Old Crypt Schoolroom. It was the first free school in Gloucester, built in the 1500s and remains a remarkable example of a Tudor schoolroom. Over time the Crypt School outgrew its site here, has relocated twice, and is still a successful local grammar school.

Rudhall Bells

Gloucester has a long tradition of bell making. Six of the eight bells in St Mary de Crypt were cast by the Rudhall family, Gloucester’s most prominent bell making family, whose bells hang in churches all over the UK. They also cast the bells for Christ Church, Boston, Massachusetts the oldest bells in the USA.

James (Jemmy) Wood

Reputedly the wealthiest commoner in England, Jemmy Wood ran the Gloucester Old Bank in Westgate Street. He was notorious for his miserly habits and so loathed by the community that his coffin was stoned as it was carried to the church. He is buried here in the family vault.

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