Leonard Stanley: Churches

Pages 264-266

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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Leonard Stanley had a church from shortly before the Conquest. (fn. 1) The priory founded c. 1131 (fn. 2) was endowed with all tithes and profits of the parish, which were valued at £6 in 1291 (fn. 3) and £7 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 4)

Robert, Rector of Ozleworth and chaplain of Stanley, who was mentioned in the 13th century perhaps served the parish. (fn. 5) There was a chaplain for the parishioners in 1498, (fn. 6) and in the 1530s a curate received a stipend of £6 from the priory. (fn. 7) After the Dissolution the impropriators and owners of the priory estate paid the curate; the salary was said to be £10 in 1603, (fn. 8) but later it was £6 13s 4d. (fn. 9) Before 1712 Robert Sandford leased all the tithes of the parish, except those from the priory estate, to the curate, raising the value of the living to £40, (fn. 10) and in 1719 Robert, or his son who succeeded him in that year, made the tithes over to the curate. Queen Anne's Bounty met that benefaction with a grant of £200, and in 1731 there was a further grant of £200 from the Bounty to meet an equal sum from Robert Sandford. (fn. 11) In 1750 the benefice was worth £60. (fn. 12) The value had risen to £105 by 1814; (fn. 13) at inclosure in 1834 the curate received c. 100 a. for the tithes, (fn. 14) and in 1856 the living was worth £200. (fn. 15) The Sandfords and the successors to their estate retained the right of nomination to the living; (fn. 16) after the death of Lucy Denison Jones c. 1959 the patronage passed to her nieces Mrs. J. Hollings and Mrs. Y. Fisher. (fn. 17) The living, which became a perpetual curacy as a result of the 18th-century benefactions, came to be called a vicarage in the later 19th century. (fn. 18)

In the late 18th century the parsonage was a house south of the 'White Hart', (fn. 19) but in 1822 and 1836 there was no house. A house in Marsh Road had apparently been acquired by 1840. (fn. 20) It is an 18thcentury stone house with dormers and sash windows to which a gabled east wing was added in the late 19th century by the vicar William Butlin. (fn. 21)

Roger Hodgkin, the curate in 1551, had only a mediocre knowledge of the Articles, Creed, and Commandments. (fn. 22) The curate in 1572 did not teach the catechism, failed to read the service plainly, and preached without a licence. (fn. 23) John Hayward in 1593 was a sufficient scholar but did not conform. (fn. 24) Dositheus Wyer, who was curate in 1642, (fn. 25) was ejected from another living at the Restoration for nonconformity, and Thomas Worrall, the curate in 1648, signed the Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony in support of the Covenant. (fn. 26) In 1683 Anselm Sandford, son of John Sandford the impropriator, was curate, (fn. 27) and from 1749 to 1781 the living was held by John Sandford, son of Robert Sandford (d. 1769). (fn. 28) John Pettat (1781-9) was also Vicar of Stonehouse, where he lived, but served both cures. (fn. 29) John Symonds Breedon (1789-1818) lived in Berkshire in 1790. (fn. 30) His successor, John Price Jones, who later held the manor in right of his wife, was non-resident during the 20 years he held the living; in 1819 he lived at Driffield, where he was stipendary curate, (fn. 31) and c. 1825 at Bath. (fn. 32)

The small chapel at Leonard Stanley, standing to the south-west of the priory church, is thought to date from the late 10th or early 11th century; it was presumably the parish church until the foundation of the priory. It was a small single-cell building with an eastern apse; there is herring-bone masonry in the south wall, and over a blocked doorway in the north wall part of a Saxon hood-mould survives. In the 14th century the apse was destroyed and the chapel extended eastward; windows of that period survive in a damaged state in the east and north walls, and a cusped piscina in the north wall. (fn. 33) The chapel is used as a farm building, as it apparently has been since the Dissolution, and parts of the fabric have been destroyed or obscured by alterations, notably a porch extension on the north. After the foundation of the priory the nave of the large priory church apparently became the parish church, (fn. 34) but the chapel also remained in use, as architectural evidence shows, apparently as a priory chapel. It may have been 'the chapel of St. Leonard of Stanley' whose 'parson' acquired 5 marks rent in the late 13th century, (fn. 35) and it was almost certainly St. Leonard's chapel at the priory for which alms were sought in 1395; (fn. 36) a tradition that the chapel, as well as the, priory church, bore the dedication to St. Leonard was recorded in 1750. (fn. 37)

The church of ST. SWITHIN (fn. 38) was formerly the priory church of St. Leonard founded c. 1131; the dedication to St. Swithin may have been borne by the parochial nave before the Dissolution. (fn. 39) The church, which comprises chancel or choir, nave, transepts, arches with plain square orders which rest on pairs of pilasters with scalloped capitals flanked by buttresses; (fn. 40) the two western piers have been largely renewed. The tower has a square staircase turret on the north-west, and at the stage of the ringingchamber a passage within the walls; the upper stage, which has plain lancets, was probably completed in the 13th century. The south transept retains 12th-century windows on the west and south and the inner arch of a west door which led into the cloister. In the east wall is a blocked opening to an apsidal chapel, the foundations of which have been excavated; (fn. 41) the weather-moulding of the roof of the chapel remains on the outside. A similar chapel in the north transept had been destroyed by the 14th embattled central tower, and north porch, retains the plan, much of the fabric, and many of the details of the original 12th-century building.

Figure 10:

St.Swithin's church and priory site

The nave has four 12th-century doorways, in the west end of the north wall, in the west wall, and at each end of the south wall. All the doorways have inner orders of chevron ornament; the south-east doorway has a label of ball ornament, and the other three have billeted labels. Three of the deeplysplayed 12th-century windows in the south wall of the nave and the westernmost in the north wall remain. The tower is supported on four massive century when a new window, which overlaps the blocked arch to the chapel, was made in the east wall. (fn. 42) One of the transeptal chapels presumably housed the altar of the Virgin Mary mentioned in the 13th century. (fn. 43) Diagonal passages giving access from the transepts to the chancel were later filled with rubble and sealed up; the southern one was re-opened in the early 20th century. (fn. 44) The chancel arch has a label of ball ornament stopped with monsters' heads. The chancel had, or was intended to have, a vault of two bays for which the vaultingshafts survive; the central shaft on the north is flanked by corbels for carrying the diagonal ribs. A string-course with zig-zag ornament runs right round the chancel, and fragments of a similar stringcourse survive in the north transept.

In the 14th century the gabled north porch with stone benches was added, new windows replaced the two easternmost in the north wall of the nave, and two others were made in the north transept. The chancel was given five new windows with internal shafts; traces of the 12th-century east window are visible on the outside. The trussed-rafter roof of the nave also belongs to the 14th century. The roof pitch was apparently lowered when it was fitted; a higher weather-moulding appears on the tower, and the head of the recess for the former west window has been lowered. (fn. 45) A plaster ceiling which hid the roof was boarded in 1872, (fn. 46) but removed in the early 20th century. (fn. 47) In the 15th century a new rood-screen was made a short way down the nave; the lower entrance to the staircase, which survives in the south wall, was driven through a 13th-century cusped tomb-recess. In the 15th or early 16th century new windows were made in the north transept and in the north and west walls of the nave. Battlements were added to the tower and staircase-turret. The tower formerly had a spire, mentioned in the late 16th century, (fn. 48) which had been blown down and replaced by a low pyramidal roof by c. 1708. (fn. 49)

In 1884 the tower piers were repaired and external buttresses added to strengthen the tower and north wall. Soon afterwards the chancel was restored. (fn. 50) Extensive restoration between 1913 and 1920, instigated by the vicar, Charles Swynnerton, uncovered several 12th-century details that had been obscured. (fn. 51)

The church contains several pieces of 12thcentury sculpture, including a carved stone thought to represent the Trinity above the north doorway, a bull's head high up on the west of the staircaseturret, a representation of Mary Magdalene washing Christ's feet on a capital against the north wall of the chancel, a Nativity scene on the capital opposite, and above a square aumbry in the chancel an allegorical representation of the Fall. (fn. 52) A Norman aumbry in the north wall of the chancel has a vaulted soffit. There is a 13th-century double piscina with a cusped head in the chancel, and a piscina of the same period in the south transept. Wall-paintings, said to have been of the 14th-century, were discovered in chancel and nave c. 1880 but were destroyed soon afterwards; they included an Annunciation scene, and the figure of a knight holding a church, presumably a representation of the founder, Roger of Berkeley. (fn. 53)

There is a 14th-century ogee tomb-recess with cusping in the south wall of the nave, west of the 13th-century tomb-recess mentioned above. A monument to John Crosse, Prior of Stanley (fl. 1449), (fn. 54) which was in the south transept in 1880, is apparently the illegible slab which in 1967 was preserved in the north transept. The pulpit mentioned in 1880, and apparently made from pieces of the 15th-century screen, has been replaced. (fn. 55) The font, which has a narrow bowl on a baluster stem, and its wooden cover are of the early 18th century. (fn. 56) Until the late 19th century, seats in the chancel were arranged against the three walls. (fn. 57) The 17th-century altarrails were used as benches under the tower in 1967. In 1747 a gallery for the Holbrow family was put up across the west end of the church (fn. 58) and the tracery of the west window was destroyed; the gallery was removed and the window restored in the early 20th century. (fn. 59) Pews and wainscoting made for the nave c. 1798 were removed in the early 20th century. (fn. 60) Preserved in the north transept in 1967 were the remains, of the rood-beam, recovered from an outhouse c. 1956, (fn. 61) and an Italian well-head with Romanesque carving which was given to the church for use as a font. (fn. 62)

The church had two bells apparently of the 14th century; one was cast by John Barber of Salisbury. (fn. 63) There were four bells and a clock in 1538 when the lessee of the priory, Sir William Kingston, granted the parishioners right of access to the tower. (fn. 64) A dispute about access to ring the bells, which arose between the Sandfords and the parishioners in the late 16th century, was finally resolved in 1618 when William Sandford granted the tower to the parish. (fn. 65) Two of the bells were recast in 1678, one being given an anti-papal inscription, and all were rehung; (fn. 66) in 1908 all four were recast and two others added. (fn. 67) The plate includes an early example of the Vshaped chalice dated 1591, another chalice of 1667, and a flagon, paten, and knife given by Eleanor Rishton in 1747. (fn. 68) The registers, which are virtually complete, begin in 1570. (fn. 69) The village stocks stand outside the west doorway of the church.


  • 1. See below.
  • 2. V.C.H. Glos. ii. 72-73.
  • 3. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 221.
  • 4. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 419.
  • 5. Archaeologia, lxxi. 210.
  • 6. Hockaday Abs. xxii, 1498 visit. f. 28.
  • 7. Ibid. xxv, 1532 subsidy f. 16; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 419.
  • 8. B.M. Harl. MS. 594, f. 236.
  • 9. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93; Atkyns, Glos. 683.
  • 10. Atkyns, Glos. 683.
  • 11. C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty (1845), pp. cxxxiii, cxlvii, cclxxxv.
  • 12. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 30.
  • 13. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 37.
  • 14. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 89.
  • 15. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 184.
  • 16. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii.
  • 17. Ex inf. the Vicar of Leonard Stanley, the Revd. G. B. J. White.
  • 18. Clergy List (1859; 1892).
  • 19. Glos. R.O., D 1159, map of Leonard Stanley manor.
  • 20. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii.
  • 21. Ex inf. the vicar. The date 1782 appears on a chimney at the west end of the 18th-century wing.
  • 22. E.H.R. xix. 115.
  • 23. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii.
  • 24. Ibid. lii, state of clergy 1593, f. 14.
  • 25. Ibid. lxiv, 1642 visit. f. 26.
  • 26. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 550, 555.
  • 27. G.D.R. Leonard Stanley terrier; Visit. Glos. 1682-3, 153.
  • 28. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii; Rudder, Glos. 687.
  • 29. See p. 286; G.D.R. vol. 321.
  • 30. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii; G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 37.
  • 31. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii.
  • 32. G.D.R. vol. 383, no. ccxl.
  • 33. H. M. and Joan Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture (1965), ii. 567; the foundations of the apse were excavated in 1914: Archaeologia, lxxi. 222-3, and plate facing p. 224. In 1966 three stone slab coffins were discovered buried near the north-west corner of the chapel: ex inf. Mr. Walrond.
  • 34. The nave of the priory church was undoubtedly the parish church before the Dissolution: Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii, 1503; Trans. B.G.A.S. xxii; at the Dissolution the chapel passed to the owners of the priory: Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii, 1544. The theory advanced in Proc. C.N.F.C. xix. 103-14, that the nave of the priory church became parochial only in the 15th century is based mainly on alterations made then to the nave, and on general grounds is much less likely than that the nave was parochial from the beginning.
  • 35. Cal. Inq. Misc. i, p. 436.
  • 36. Cal. Papal Regs. iv. 511.
  • 37. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 30.
  • 38. e.g. Atkyns, Glos. 683. See below, plate facing p. 283.
  • 39. One of the fairs at Leonard Stanley was held on St. Leonard's day, the other on the Saturday after St. Swithin: Atkyns, Glos. 683.
  • 40. It has been suggested that the buttresses were added later when subsidence occurred in the north-east pier: Antiq. Jnl. ix. 13-14; Trans. B.G.A.S. v. 125, a full description of the church by J. H. Middleton.
  • 41. Antiq. Jnl. ix. 21.
  • 42. Ibid. 14, and diagram facing p. 16; the new window was itself later blocked and all traces of it are hidden by a Commandments board.
  • 43. Archaeologia, lxxi. 210.
  • 44. Antiq. Jnl. ix. 13.
  • 45. Church Builder, cxliii. 90.
  • 46. Glos. R.O., P 201/VE 2/1.
  • 47. Archaeologia, lxxi. 218.
  • 48. Antiq. Jnl. ix. 18.
  • 49. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. C.3, f. 174v.
  • 50. Church Builder, cxliii. 88.
  • 51. Archaeologia, lxxi. 199-226; there and in the articles cited in Antiq. Jnl. and Church Builder Swynnerton discussed the history and architecture of the church and described the discoveries made at the restoration.
  • 52. Archaeologia, lxxi. 221, plates xxi-xxii.
  • 53. Trans. B.G.A.S. v. 129-30; Church Builder, cxliii. 89; Archaeologia, lxxi. 219.
  • 54. V.C.H. Glos. ii. 73.
  • 55. Trans. B.G.A.S. v. 127-8 n., 131.
  • 56. Ibid. xlviii. 99.
  • 57. Ibid. xxv. 75; v. 131.
  • 58. Hockaday Abs. cccxlviii; cf. Glos. R.O., P 201/CW 4/1.
  • 59. Archaeologia, lxxi. 218.
  • 60. Glos. R.O., P 201/CW 4/1; Archaeologia, lxxi. 219.
  • 61. Ex inf. Mr. Walrond.
  • 62. Church guide (c. 1961).
  • 63. Trans. B.G.A.S. xli. 54.
  • 64. Archaeologia, lxxi. 216.
  • 65. Antiq. Jnl. ix. 16-18.
  • 66. Glos. Ch. Bells, 64.
  • 67. Antiq. Jnl. ix. 19-20; Trans. B.G.A.S. xlii. 176.
  • 68. Glos. Ch. Plate, 136-7.
  • 69. B. & G. Par. Recs. 250.