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 church at Haresfield was first recorded in 1161; in that year Henry of Hereford, the lord of the manor, granted it to Llanthony Priory. (fn. 1) The rectory was appropriated, and a vicarage had been ordained by 1270. (fn. 2) In 1932 the benefice was united with Harescombe. (fn. 3) The patronage was exercised by Llanthony Priory until the Dissolution; (fn. 4) by 1546 the Crown had granted it to Sir Anthony Kingston whose successors as lords of the chief manor were patrons. (fn. 5)
The valuation of Haresfield church at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291 presumably included the portions of both rector and vicar, while a portion of the profits valued at 10s. belonged to Tewkesbury Abbey. Llanthony Priory, as rector, and the vicar also had small portions in the churches of Harescombe and Pitchcombe (fn. 6) which were described as chapels to Haresfield in 1341, (fn. 7) but no later evidence of the connexion between the churches has been found. The vicar received the small tithes of the parish. In 1319 an agreement about the tithing of calves, sheep, apples, and pears asserted the continuing right of the vicar to the tithes of orchards and gardens converted to fields, and of the rector to the tithes of fields which ceased to be cultivated. (fn. 8) In a dispute over the vicar's right to tithes from the park in 1585 it was said that he had formerly received the shoulder of any deer killed. (fn. 9) About 1680 the vicar and parishioners agreed to a composition for the tithes of pasture grounds but the tithes of apples, hens, ducks, and geese continued to be paid in kind. (fn. 10) The vicar had 29½ a. of glebe in 1572; (fn. 11) some had been sold by 1807. (fn. 12) At inclosure in 1831 the vicar received c. 130 a. for his tithes and c. 16 a. for glebe. (fn. 13) The vicarage was worth £13 3s. 5½d. in 1535. (fn. 14) Its value was put at £57 in 1650, (fn. 15) at £60 in 1750, (fn. 16) and at £270 in 1825. (fn. 17)
The vicarage house was mentioned in 1434, (fn. 18) and in 1572 when its timber and tiling were out of repair. (fn. 19) It was perhaps the same house that was in such bad repair in 1679 that Richard Capel, the vicar presented in that year, considered legal action against his predecessor's widow. Capel demolished the house, (fn. 20) and by c. 1775 another vicarage house had been built. (fn. 21) That house was later burnt down and in 1792 the vicar, Thomas Rudge, mortgaged the profits of the vicarage to raise money for a new house, which had been completed by 1807. (fn. 22) The vicarage house was again rebuilt c. 1840, as a large stone house in the Tudor style, by the impropriator Daniel Niblett. (fn. 23)
Henry Kirk, vicar from 1551, was found unsatisfactory in doctrine; (fn. 24) he was deprived for marriage in 1554. John Jennings (1556-71) (fn. 25) was resident in 1563, (fn. 26) but in 1569 when the church lacked a bible, prayer-book, and Erasmus's Paraphrases, the services were apparently being performed by a curate, who was reprimanded for not following the prescribed order of saying the prayers. Thomas Woodcock, vicar from 1578, (fn. 27) was described as neither a graduate nor a preacher in 1584, (fn. 28) but as both in 1593. (fn. 29) Anthony Andrews (d. 1679) (fn. 30) was described as a preaching minister in 1650; (fn. 31) from 1664 he was also Vicar of Standish. From 1780 to 1825 (fn. 32) the living was held by Thomas Rudge, Archdeacon of Gloucester, who wrote a history of Gloucestershire and an account of its agriculture. (fn. 33)
The church of ST. PETER (fn. 34) comprises nave, chancel of two compartments, west tower and spire, and north and south porches. Some parts of the fabric of the church mentioned in the 12th century survive: the tympanum of the north doorway is scored with diagonal lines and has an order of star ornament and a row of the same ornament below, and in the north wall of the western chancel is a restored window with internal shafts and chevron ornament. (fn. 35) The western compartment of the chancel possibly formed the base of a tower. It was later the responsibility of the rector and the eastern compartment that of the vicar; the arrangement was recorded from the 16th century. (fn. 36) In the 13th century a cusped light was inserted in the south wall of the eastern compartment. The church was rebuilt in the 14th century when the embattled west tower of three stages with a spire, gargoyles, and a staircase turret on the north, and the porches were added. There are two restored 14th-century windows in the south wall of the nave. The perpendicular east window is apparently a 19th-century replacement. (fn. 37) The church was reroofed in 1751, and in the next year orders were given for repairing the tower and spire. (fn. 38) Repairs to the interior carried out c. 1780 were said to have obliterated many ancient details. (fn. 39) The church, described in 1841 as 'unwholesome, uncomfortable, and squalid', (fn. 40) was very thoroughly restored in the next year by Daniel Niblett. (fn. 41) The Decorated window replacing one of the 14th century (fn. 42) and the Tudor-style doorway in the south wall of the western chancel were presumably added then.
The font has a lead bowl ornamented with cusped arcading and is probably 14th-century work, although it has been suggested that the beaded shafts of the arcade indicate a 17th-century date. (fn. 43) There are two early 14th-century female effigies in stone in the western chancel, (fn. 44) one in an ogee recess with cusping, the other placed alongside it, apparently during the restoration of 1842. (fn. 45) A wall monument to John Rogers (d. 1683), bears the epitaph written for him by John Dryden. (fn. 46) The north doorway has an ancient oak door, and a dugout chest is preserved in the south porch. There is a rough carving, thought to represent David with his sling, on the north-east buttress of the nave. (fn. 47)
The four bells of the church were broken in 1686 when it was decided to recast them and add a fifth. (fn. 48) Two of the bells, however, the work of Abraham Rudhall, are dated 1702, a third 1725, and a fourth, by Thomas Rudhall, 1779; another was recast in 1846 when a sixth was added. (fn. 49) John Rogers of Moat Place (d. 1698) by his will dated 1695 gave Starsmead House as a dwelling for the parish clerk or another who was to ring a bell for half an hour in the morning and evening during the winter months. (fn. 50) He also gave the church clock in 1692. (fn. 51) The plate includes an alms-dish dated 1674 and a flagon dated 1750, given by members of the Pulton family, and a chalice and paten of 1737. (fn. 52) The registers begin in 1558. (fn. 53)
A medieval stone coffin discovered in the western chancel in the 19th century lies in the churchyard by the north porch; it contained a lead coffin paten (fn. 54) which is kept in the vestry. Near the north porch is a coped gravestone thought to be Saxon; (fn. 55) its ornamentation, medallions with floral devices, could no longer be made out in 1967. Beside it are two medieval grave slabs. (fn. 56)