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Guide to St Michael's Church
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Thomas Cromwell was Vicar-General to Henry VIII, and in September 1538 ordered Parish priests to keep registers. From that date, every parish church was required to acquire a sure coffer (that is, a parish chest) within which their records could be securely stored. We are grateful to Parish Clerks Online for their permission to reprint the following interesting historical information from their excellent website:

"The chest maintained by the parish was in ancient times a hollow trunk, fastened with three keys, the latter to be kept severally by the bishop, the priest, and a religious layman. By the mid-1500s, the parishioners in every parish were directed by law to provide a strong chest with a hole in the upper part thereof, and having three keys, for holding the alms for the poor. The chest was also a place in which the parish registers and other parish documents were kept. A single chest could have been used for both purposes (alms and documents) or two or more chests were kept by the parish.

Although the chest was a requirement, what was kept therein and the condition of the box itself varied from parish to parish. The papers and documents stored inside, although maybe untidy, were preserved reasonably well. Their survival, however, depended not only upon the local mouse and insect population, but also the housekeeping enthusiasm of various people keen to clear away old rubbish".

The order to keep registers was made again during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), and after her death in 1603 it was directed that a parchment book should be provided in every parish "wherein shall be written the day and year of every Christening, Wedding and Burial, which have been in the parish since the time that the law was first made in that behalf, so far as the ancient books can be procured, but especially since the reign of the late Queen".

The Winterbourne Registers start in 1600 but there is a gap in the entries between June 1642 and March 1654, caused by the confusion of the Civil War between King Charles and Parliament.

"Save the Village records!"

Our historic parish records and registers which date back to the year 1600 always aroused great interest and fascination (especially with local schoolchildren) whenever they were put on special display.

The provisions of the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 required all parish records to be deposited with the County Archives, and finally in January 1985 our Parish Registers were ordered to be surrendered to the Bristol Records Office which would have meant future generations being unlikely to see them again.

So the Winterbourne Parish Council launched and co-ordinated a "Save the Village Records" public appeal which was carried out by the Sixth-Form of The Ridings High School.

As a result, under Schedule 2 of the 1978 measure, an approved secure storage cabinet capable of keeping documents under safe storage conditions was purchased by the people of Winterbourne, Winterbourn Down and Frenchay and consequently, Winterbourne was one of only a few parishes in the country allowed to keep its historic records (although the Dymock Survey map of 1827 had to deposited with the County Archives immediately).
Finally, in 2006 when the Rector, Canon EI Bailey, and his wife Joanna (the approved keeper of the records) left Winterbourne, all the registers and records that had been kept locally were surrendered to the Bristol Record Office.
However, all the records have been transcribed by Ray Bulmer and copies of local Parish Records, Registers and School Records for Winterbourne, Winterbourn Down and Frenchay have been made available for everyone to view by
# The Frenchay Tuckett Society at the Frenchay Museum.
This valuable reference source is available online at
# Winterbourne Family History Online

# Frenchay Museum is situated just inside entrance B of the hospital and is open Saturday and Sunday 2-5pm and Wednesday 12.30-4pm


The Winterbourne Parish collection can be browsed on the on-line catalogue of the Bristol Record Office at
Click 'Search Online Catalogue' on the left-hand side of the page.
Type 'p.wi' into the RefNo search box and click the Search button.
In the first item that appears on the list, click on the blue number[1] and on the next page click on the blue code P.Wi. This will bring up the structure on the whole catalogue. Clicking on the blue text of any item will show the full catalogue entry.

The records themselves can be viewed in the Public Search Room. Opening times are Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm. You do not need to book in advance but you can pre-order the documents prior to your visit.
When you have viewed these items and determined your copy requirements, please speak to a member of staff and they can advise you on the most appropriate method. This will depend on the format of the items you want to copy. You may find it useful to bring a digital camera with you, if you have one, for items that cannot be photocopied.

# These sites open in a pop-up window. The loading speed is outside our control.
Click the 'X' close window box to exit.

First page of the 1600 Church Register

1600 records

The story of the Symes family

There is a memorial to Amy and Thomas Symes in the Chancel.
In Memory of AMY, the Wife of THOMAS SYMES, Esqr. of this Parish, Daughter of
EDWARD BRIDGES, of  Keynsham in the County of Somerset. Esqr. descended from
the noble Family of the Lord CHANDOIS, Baron of Sudely Castle in the County of
Gloucester, who though her Extraction was Honorable, yet by her Examplary
Life and Manners became an honor to her Family and after 17 Years spent in
her minority and 20 Years in Wedlock in which interval she was mother of twelve
Sons and four Daughters, changed this mortal State for  an immortall the 30 of
April 1662. Here also lyes the Body of THOMAS SYMES, of this Parish, Esqr. Son
of JOHN SYMES, of Ponsford in the County of  Somerset. Esqr. who deceased the
22 day of January 1669, Aged 48 Years. Here also lyes the Body of BENJAMIN, Son
of  THOMAS SYMES, Esqr. and AMY, his Wife, who deceased August the 12, 1662,
Aged 6 Months. Here also lyes the body of ELIZABETH, Daughter of THOMAS SYMES,
and AMY, his Wife, who deceased the 18 of January, ..... (no Year)
Aged 19 Years

Sometimes the parish registers almost tell the story of a family.
Here are the entries for the Symes family.
September 15 Amy daughter of Mr Thomas Symes

September 22 Catherine the daughter of Mr Thomas Symes

April 28 Elizabeth daughter of Mr Tho Symes

May 20 Richard son of Mr Tho Symes

February 14 Joseph son of Mr Tho Symes

February 4 Benjamin son of Mr Thomas Symes and Anne his wife

April 30 Mrs Anne Symes wife of Thomas Symes
August 12 Benjamin son of Mr Thomas Symes and Anne his wife

Jan 22 Mr Thomas Symes

In the Second Register:
Amy Symes d. April 12 1662
Thomas Symes d. January 22 1669 aged 48