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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As the mother church of a large parish that once included Hardwicke, Randwick, and Saul, (fn. 1) and as a church that belonged to Gloucester Abbey, Standish church is likely to have been built many years before the first known reference to it c. 1188. (fn. 2) The church then had a rector; Lawrence the priest of Standish in 1229 (fn. 3) may have been Rector of Standish, like R. de Lewes in the mid 13th century. R. de Lewes disputed the division of the great tithes with Gloucester Abbey, and it was stated that the rector was entitled to all the small tithes and one yardland of glebe but only to a specified amount of grain representing the great tithes of 30 yardlands. (fn. 4) Master Ellis, Rector of Standish in the mid 13th century, (fn. 5) was apparently the same, as Ellis of Bromfield, who held only a portion of the rectory. Thomas of Stoke was instituted on the abbey's presentation to the same portion in 1270, (fn. 6) and he received only £4 out of the total profits of the church of nearly £15 in 1291. He held other benefices (fn. 7) and was an absentee, (fn. 8) so that it is possible either that there was a Vicar of Standish in his time, as in 1303, (fn. 9) or that on his resignation or death the abbey appropriated the remaining portion of the rectory and presented vicars instead of rectors as incumbents.
The vicar's portion had become intermixed by 1348 with that of Gloucester Abbey, and to put an end to disputes Bishop Bransford confirmed an ordination of the vicarage. (fn. 10) The vicarage remained in the gift of the abbey (fn. 11) until 1534, when the abbot and convent made a grant of the next presentation. (fn. 12) In 1551 the Bishop of Gloucester, who held the impropriated rectory, (fn. 13) was named as patron of the living, (fn. 14) and the presentation in 1580 by Richard Hands was made by virtue of a grant from the bishop, as may have been that made in 1554 by Robert Jones. (fn. 15) In 1552, however, the Crown had granted the advowson to Sir Anthony Cooke (fn. 16) along with the manor, (fn. 17) and the advowson was included in settlements of the manor in 1579 and 1624. (fn. 18) The first presentation after 1580 was of Walter Powell in 1618 and was made by John Powell of Clapton; (fn. 19) both men may have been related to William Powell, churchwarden of Standish in the late 16th century, (fn. 20) and to Henry Powell, steward of Standish manor in 1582, (fn. 21) suggesting that John Powell's right derived from the lord of the manor rather than the bishop. On the next vacancy, in 1664, the bishop filled the living by collation, (fn. 22) and on the next again, in 1678, Sir Joseph Sheldon presented. (fn. 23) In 1692 Bishop Fowler granted the next presentation to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the Crown presented in 1709. Thereafter the advowson belonged to the Bishop of Gloucester, the archbishop exercising turns in 1760 and 1839, (fn. 24) and the bishop was still patron in 1967.
The value of the vicarage, included with that of the rectory in 1341, (fn. 25) was high, at £44 clear, in 1535. (fn. 26) The cost of maintaining a chaplain or chaplains to help perform services at Hardwicke, Randwick, and Saul made possible a great difference between the gross and the net value. In 1650 the vicarage was valued at £80, excluding £76 shared among the three chapelries, all of which it was thought should be severed from Standish. (fn. 27) The net value in 1689 was said to be less than £40. (fn. 28) Twenty years later the living was said to have fallen in total value from £200, (fn. 29) and it was put at £130 c. 1710 and £160 in 1750. (fn. 30) In 1839 the vicar was awarded rents of £200 in place of small tithes, (fn. 31) and the vicarage was worth £540 gross in 1856. (fn. 32) The 14th-century ordination of the vicarage gave the vicar a pension of £15 5s. payable by the abbot and convent of Gloucester, (fn. 33) and after the Dissolution by the bishop. (fn. 34) It also gave him the small tithes, glebe, and a house at Little Haresfield. (fn. 35) The glebe amounted to 60 a. in Standish in the late 16th century, to c. 80 a. in the late 17th, (fn. 36) and to 86 a. in the late 19th. (fn. 37)
The vicarage house at Little Haresfield, a building of stone with a roof partly of Cotswold stone, appears to date from the 14th century. The windows, however, have mullioned lights with four-centred heads, suggesting a 16th-century rebuilding, and Bishop Frampton spent much money rebuilding the house when he was vicar in the late 17th century. (fn. 38) The north range, the oldest part of the house, is of two stories and has diagonal buttresses; it is rectangular on plan, and in the middle of the south side is a richly moulded, ogee-headed doorway, later enclosed within the house. Two projections on the north wall may have been garderobes. The two ground-floor rooms of the north range have heavily moulded ceiling beams. A wing projecting southward from the original range is later but may also be medieval. In the mid-19th century the angle between the existing ranges was filled with an entrance hall, stairway, and study, and other changes may have included reroofing the house. (fn. 39)
Richard of Leigh, vicar from 1338, Walter of Evesham, vicar in 1345 and 1348, William Stoke, vicar 1406-27, (fn. 40) and William Blomer, vicar in 1498, (fn. 41) were all graduates. Dr. Thomas Greenwood, who was vicar by 1532 (fn. 42) and died in 1542, was also reader in divinity at Gloucester Abbey; (fn. 43) he provided a curate for Standish (fn. 44) and leased part of the glebe. (fn. 45) His successor, John Moore, was nonresident in 1551, claiming to be a royal chaplain, and employed a curate. (fn. 46) He was described as contumacious in 1548, (fn. 47) and was disputing with his parishioners about tithes in 1550. (fn. 48) In 1554 he was replaced, because he was married, by John Yannes, (fn. 49) who regained possession of the glebe and tithes leased by Moore on giving the lessees a covenant to perform services at the parish church and its chapels. (fn. 50) Moore recovered the living in 1559, (fn. 51) but remained non-resident. (fn. 52) Francis Yate, vicar 1580-1618, was a graduate and a preacher; (fn. 53) by 1603 he was also Vicar of Painswick. (fn. 54)
Walter Powell, who as mentioned above may have had earlier connexions with the parish, was vicar 1618-64, (fn. 55) his tenure in the later years being interrupted. He tried to buy an estate in Standish and Haresfield, failed to pay the purchase price, (fn. 56) and was imprisoned for debt. (fn. 57) His claim that he had been plundered by the king's army (fn. 58) helped to restore him to the vicarage when the county committee ejected him in 1645. (fn. 59) Though he subscribed the Presbyterian Testimony (fn. 60) and was called a preaching minister in 1650, (fn. 61) by 1653 he had again been ejected (fn. 62) and from 1655 to 1660 disputed possession of the vicarage with William Hill, who had been admitted in 1654 as the Protector's presentee. (fn. 63) In 1661 there was said to be no minister, (fn. 64) and in 1662 Powell subscribed as vicar. (fn. 65)
In 1684 Robert Frampton, then Bishop of Gloucester, became Vicar of Standish; when he was deprived of his bishopric as a non-juror the authorities connived at his retention of the vicarage, and he died at Standish in 1708. (fn. 66) Four of the next five vicars held other benefices in Gloucestershire, (fn. 67) and the cure may normally have been served by curates. One curate, Vincent Rice, (fn. 68) was in 1715 said to be 'of the high side' and to have Jacobite leanings. (fn. 69) In 1785 Robert Hallifax began his incumbency which lasted until his death in 1838. (fn. 70)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS (fn. 71) comprises chancel, nave, west tower with spire, north porch, and south vestry, all built of ashlar with Cotswold stone roofs. Except for the south vestry, formerly a porch, (fn. 72) the whole church was built in the early 14th century and has a chamfered plinth running all round. Each side of the nave has three windows, and each side of the chancel two, all of the same design, of two lights with quatrefoil tracery and splays recessed both inside and out. The large east window, which is slightly south of centre, has five lights and elaborate tracery. The chancel is unusually large, even in proportion to the wide, aisleless nave. At the east end of the south wall is an ogee-headed piscina, and there is a similar, piscina at the east end of the north wall of the nave. There is a small priest's door in the south wall of. the chancel. The continuous chancel arch, of two plain, chamfered orders, is almost as high and as wide as the chancel and is supported on the outside by straight buttresses. The nave roof is ceiled with timber panelling ornamented with 180 carved bosses. (fn. 73) The north porch contains stone benches. In the west wall, slightly north of centre, is a 14th-century doorway to the tower.
The west tower, its unusual narrowness accentuated by its tall, ribbed broach spire of ashlar, shares the west wall of the nave and overlaps the verge of the nave gable-end. The western angles have tall diagonal buttresses. The ringing chamber at first-floor level has narrow rectangular lights, the belfry and the cardinal faces of the spire have cusped single lights.
The church has been altered remarkably little since the early 14th century. The medieval additions included the south porch, and a rood loft the stairway to which survives. The church was restored and reseated in 1762-4, (fn. 74) but the size of the nave made a gallery unnecessary. (fn. 75) It was again repaired and reseated in 1867, (fn. 76) when the chancel, which had previously been ceiled, (fn. 77) was reroofed. (fn. 78) The font is of 1860. (fn. 79)
The monuments include the pediment, entablature, and columns of the memorial of Sir Henry Winston (d. 1609) and his wife Denise, from which the effigies, together with that of Sir Henry's father Thomas, were removed from Standish to Long Burton church (Dorset) by Sir Henry's daughter, Eleanor; (fn. 80) the monument was in the chancel, (fn. 81) and what remains of it was moved to the nave and in 1966 was restored to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill's association, through the Winstons, with Standish. To the north of the altar is the gravestone of Bishop Frampton. A thick slab bearing a lady's head of the early 14th century incised in low relief (fn. 82) lies by the nave piscina.
The tenor bell, inscribed with the name of William Lawley, vicar, is apparently from Holy Trinity Church, Gloucester, and cast by Robert Hendley c. 1500. It was brought to Standish in or before 1651, when another bell was acquired. Two more bells, by Brian Eldridge of Coventry, were added in 1656, (fn. 83) and by 1667 there were five bells. (fn. 84) A bell of 1720 by Abraham Rudhall was added, and in 1748 the younger Abraham recast another. (fn. 85) All six bells, which had been out of order for 20 years, were rehung in 1930. (fn. 86) The plate includes a chalice of 1651, and a chalice and paten-cover of 1573 that once belonged to the chapel at Colethrop. (fn. 87) The registers begin in 1559 but have extensive gaps in the early 17th century.
The mission church of ST. MARY MAGDALEN at Colethrop, 700 yds. NW. of the pound, was opened in 1874; it was built at the expense of J. D. T. Niblett, who in 1866 had become the first lay reader in the Church of England. The building incorporated a trefoil-headed window brought from the. church house at Harescombe. The church was closed in 1932 (fn. 88) and demolished soon after. (fn. 89) In 1967 enough of the foundations remained to show that it had been a small stone building.