SHEPPERDINE welcomed a special guest when the Bishop of Gloucester held a service to mark the centenary of the hamlet's tiny tin church.

A marquee had to be put up to accommodate the overflow as St Mary's is such a tight squeeze for worshippers.

It was then used to serve tea to those who had taken part in the event.

The Right Rev Michael Perham was joined in the service by Thornbury vicar, the Rev Jan van der Lely, whose parochial patch also includes Shepperdine.

Few tin tabernacles remain today as they were meant to be temporary structures to be used for worship before being replaced by more sturdy, permanent buildings.

They were early examples of prefabricated design, developed in the 19th century to serve fast growing urban areas and the upsurge in non-conformism, as well as to be used in the colonies.

St Mary's has a corrugated iron exterior, with wooden panelling on the inside, and can seat a maximum of 30 people. It is understood to have been a second-hand gift from a couple in Wales, as the then vicar, a Rev JFW Leigh, had family connections there.

But to get the building from Wales to Shepperdine would have involved transportation, probably by horse and cart, together with a boat trip over the River Severn.

Today churchgoers have to walk through the five-acre field in which the church stands and climb a stile in order to reach the building.