A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.
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The reference to the Vicar of Frampton in 1228 (fn. 1) is the earliest known record of the church there; the only part of the fabric of the church that is clearly of an earlier date is the font, described below, which may either survive from a 12thcentury church at Frampton or have been brought from elsewhere. The advowson of the vicarage belonged to Clifford Priory, (fn. 2) the appropriators of the rectory, and descended with the rectory estate (fn. 3) until the 19th century. (fn. 4) In 1721 the Crown presented, (fn. 5) apparently through lapse; (fn. 6) in 1813 J. H. Dunsford was instituted as vicar on his own presentation as patron for one turn. (fn. 7) After the death of Anne Wicks the advowson was held by S. W. Silver in 1847 (fn. 8) and 1879, (fn. 9) and by the Revd. E. W. Silver until 1910 when it was transferred to the Bishop of Gloucester, (fn. 10) the patron in 1968. Since 1952 the Vicar of Frampton has also served Arlingham parish. (fn. 11)
The vicar's portion was valued at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291 (fn. 12) and £7 11s. in 1535. (fn. 13) Between 1603 and 1650 its supposed value rose from £8 (fn. 14) to £40. (fn. 15) The vicar's glebe was only c. 3½ a., and most of his income was from tithes; the division of the tithes between the vicar and the impropriator was complex, as were some of the tithing customs. (fn. 16) In 1684 the owner of the rectory estate was responsible for hiring and paying a man called the dew-hopper to divide the tithe-corn in the fields between the rectory and the vicarage. (fn. 17) By c. 1703, however, the vicar received one-third of the tithes great and small, (fn. 18) and perhaps by then the tithes of the rectory and vicarage were farmed together, as they were said in 1810 to have been during living memory. (fn. 19) Queen Anne's Bounty augmented the vicarage with two sums of £200 in 1719 to meet a similar benefaction by John Chamberlayne, and in 1727 to meet one of £210 by the Bishop of Gloucester, (fn. 20) and lands in Slimbridge were bought yielding £33 a year c. 1790. (fn. 21) The inclosure award of 1815 replaced the vicar's tithes with an allotment of 38 a. in Slimbridge Warth and with corn-rents, (fn. 22) increasing the value of the living from c. £100 to nearly £300. (fn. 23) A house was recorded on the vicarage from 1584 to 1704, (fn. 24) but there was said to be no house in 1750. (fn. 25) In 1810 it was said that the vicarage house had long since been taken down, (fn. 26) and despite the fact that the glebe included a house and garden in 1815 (fn. 27) there was said to be no suitable house for the vicar in 1816. (fn. 28) A new vicarage house was being built in 1842, (fn. 29) a brick building in the Tudor style, partly rendered and later enlarged. In 1967 it was replaced by a new house in its grounds, and the former vicarage stood empty in 1968.
In the later Middle Ages the parish had in addition to the vicar an endowed chantry called Our Lady's Service. The chantry may have been founded in 1378 when John Dopping conveyed a small estate in Frampton to Thomas Hockley and others who appear to have been acting as trustees. (fn. 30) From 1498 to 1540 there was a chaplain or stipendiary, (fn. 31) and William Hayward, who filled the office in the 1530s, (fn. 32) was called the morrow-mass priest or St. Mary's priest, and kept a school. (fn. 33) The chantry's lands were not recorded by the Edwardian commissioners, and part of them were granted in 1563 to Cecily Pickerell. (fn. 34) In 1570 the churchwardens of Frampton complained that they had been dispossessed by James Clifford and John Addis of a building called the school-house, of a house given for the maintenance of the parish church and a bridge and for the relief of the poor, and of various lands; (fn. 35) in 1572, in the course of their suit, it became clear that the property had in fact formed the endowment of a concealed chantry, (fn. 36) and a jury so found in 1575. (fn. 37)
Richard Shefford, who had been the chantry priest in 1540, (fn. 38) was vicar by 1542 (fn. 39) and in 1551 was found to be 'entirely ignorant'. (fn. 40) He was deprived in 1554, presumably for having married. (fn. 41) John Savaker, instituted as vicar in 1578, (fn. 42) and described as a sufficient scholar though neither a graduate nor a preacher, (fn. 43) remained until his death 44 years later. (fn. 44) John Barnsdale, who as Vicar of Frampton signed the Presbyterian Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony in 1648, was replaced in 1663 but became Vicar of Cam. (fn. 45) Charles Wallington, vicar for 44 years from 1721, provided curates to serve the parish, as did most of his successors. They included Thomas Rudge, the writer on the history and agriculture of Gloucestershire, whose curate, William Jenkin, became vicar in 1784 and lived in Frampton until his death in 1813. Jenkin's successor, J. H. Dunsford, who became Rector of Fretherne also, lived in Slimbridge, and after long disputes with the bishop about his non-residence finally resigned Frampton in 1847. (fn. 46) Soon after Dunsford became vicar he and the impropriator were involved in disputes with the land owners about the commutation of tithes under the inclosure award, (fn. 47) and that dispute overlapped another in which Nathaniel Clifford alleged trespass by Anne Wicks, the impropriator. She had put up railings through the middle of the pews of Clifford and his servants, which straddled the arcades of the chancel. (fn. 48) Dunsford's successor, George Chute, held weekly evening services at Fromebridge in 1851. (fn. 49) M. W. F. St. John, vicar 1853-81, was highly regarded in the parish and initiated the restoration of the parish church. (fn. 50)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN (fn. 51) comprises chancel with north and south chapels, nave with north and south aisles, west tower, and south porch. It is built mainly of ashlar, rough-cast in part, and is roofed with Cotswold stone slates. Most of the fabric survives from the 14th century, but it is apparently of a date later than the dedication of the church and the high altar recorded in 1315. (fn. 52)
The 14th-century features include the ogeearched north doorway, a small cusped light above the west window of the north aisle, the chancel and nave arcades of two and four bays respectively, the south window of the south chapel and the piscina beneath it, with the projection of its bowl cut away, and the south porch. The south porch has a plain inner doorway, a moulded outer doorway with dripmould and headstops, stone benching, and a small cusped light, later blocked, on each side. An upper story was added to the porch in the later 17th century. (fn. 53) A blocked priest's door to the south chapel may also be of the 14th century. In the 15th or early 16th century some of the windows were remade or inserted, and the west tower was built. The tower, with a moulded west doorway, is of three stages and the diagonal buttresses are carried right up to form the pinnacles of a pierced and embattled parapet. The rebuilding of the tower in 1734 (fn. 54) appears to have been superficial, designed for the accommodation of the recast bells, (fn. 55) and to have amounted to little more in mason's work than the provision of the dated stone screens in the belfry lights. (fn. 56)
A singers' gallery, described as handsome, was built in 1773. (fn. 57) The placing of railings c. 1814 under the arcades of the chancel (fn. 58) reflected the ownership of the two chapels by the impropriator, while the chancel belonged to the vicar. (fn. 59) One of the chapels was presumably that of St. Anne, recorded in 1565, (fn. 60) where there was an image of the saint, (fn. 61) and in the 20th century the north chapel was used as a chapel called St. Anne's. The south chapel housed the organ, built by J. W. Walker of London in 1866, and also served as a vestry. The church was undergoing repairs in 1825, (fn. 62) and was restored in 1850-2 under Francis Niblett (fn. 63) and in 1870. (fn. 64) At one of the restorations the chancel, of which the east wall had formerly been flush with those of the chapels, (fn. 65) was doubled in length, the chancel arch was rebuilt, and the chapels were remodelled. The whole eastern part of the church, including the east ends of the nave and aisles, was reroofed, though in the western part the old trussed-rafter roofs survived with plastered ceilings and various tie-beams and posts.
The monuments include effigies, in recesses in the north aisle, of a knight of the Clifford family, of a lady of the same family, and of a civilian, all of about the early 14th century, (fn. 66) and mural monuments to members of the Clifford, Clutterbuck, Winchcombe, and Wade families. (fn. 67) Fragments of medieval coloured glass remain in the windows of the aisles, and the east window of the north chapel has what appears to be the remains of glass depicting the Seven Sacraments. (fn. 68)
The font has a lead bowl apparently of the third quarter of the 12th century, one of a group of six Gloucestershire fonts from the same blocks. (fn. 69) The pulpit of carved oak is inscribed 'William Knight, William Shering, churchmen, 1622.' There were five bells c. 1703; (fn. 70) they were recast in 1733 by Abraham Rudhall, (fn. 71) and a sixth, added by c. 1775, (fn. 72) was replaced or recast by J. Rudhall in 1791. (fn. 73) The earlier church plate was replaced by a set of solid gold for which Anne Wicks (d. 1841), the impropriator, (fn. 74) specifically left £1,000; that set was sold in 1869 for £608 and a set of silver-gilt plate bought in its stead, the balance of £500 being used for the restoration of the church. (fn. 75) The registers begin in 1625 and are virtually complete.