Located on the southern fringes of the village, Oldbury's parish church stands boldly on the summit of a tumulus which may be pagan in origin, commanding fine views of the nearby Severn Estuary and downstream, the Severn Bridge motorway crossing opened in 1966.
The church is one of only two churches in Britain dedicated to St. Arilda whose origins are local and of the Saxon period. St. Arilda is reputed to have been martyred in Kington near Thornbury and her remains buried in the crypt at Gloucester Cathedral.
The church has suffered a number of setbacks over the years. The Great Storm of 1702 inflicted much damage upon the building. Its spire was left in such a precarious state that it had to be dismantled. Thereafter the building was reported on several occasions to be in a state of some disrepair. However, by far the most devastating blow came on 31st October 1897 when the church caught fire and was reduced to a mere shell. The earliest parish registers covering the period 1538 - 1730 were saved (perhaps they were not being kept at the church at the time), but the remainder perished in the fire.
PARISH AND VILLAGE
Situated on the eastern side of the Severn Estuary, Oldbury-upon-Severn is approximately two and a half miles north west of Thornbury and six and a half miles south west of Berkeley. Close at hand on the same side of the river are the parishes of Thornbury, Elburton and Littleton-on-Severn while across the Severn Oldbury faces the parish of Tidenham. Formerly a tithing and chapelry of Thornbury and containing the hamlets of Sheperdine and Cowhill, Oldbury-upon-Severn became a parish in its own right in 1863.
It is hardly surprising, given its location, that, in addition to agriculture, Oldbury's past is bound up with river based activities, particularly fishing, there having been several fisheries dotted along the banks of the Severn in the locality.
|Click here for a map of Oldbury-upon-Severn.|
In the village evidence of Roman occupation has been unearthed including coins from the Roman period. It is thought that two Roman camps lie within the parish. One set of earthworks are known locally as the Toot Fort, "toot" being an old Saxon word meaning lookout.
Oldbury's massive nuclear power station situated on the banks of the Severn was commissioned in 1968 to supply electricity to the National Grid. It is currently due to be decommissioned in 2008.