A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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The church at Shipton was recorded from 1211. (fn. 1) In 1291 the living was a rectory (fn. 2) which it has remained. In 1211 Gilbert of Shipton quitclaimed the advowson to Ralph le Moyne (fn. 3) and it descended with Shipton Moyne manor, (fn. 4) although in 1551 Sir James Stumpe was named as joint patron. (fn. 5) In 1794 Walter Hodges retained the advowson (fn. 6) which he sold in 1808 to Thomas Estcourt. Thomas granted it in 1809 to his son T. G. Estcourt, (fn. 7) who in 1818 inherited the manor, with which the advowson again passed. (fn. 8)
The living was worth £14 in 1291, (fn. 9) and £18 1s. 9d. in 1535. (fn. 10) In the 1570s it was farmed (fn. 11) by Thomas Hodges who paid a pension of £10 to the rector, who successfully prosecuted him for nonpayment in 1574. (fn. 12) In 1579 the rector leased the living to John Hodges who c. 1589 assigned tithes and glebe to the value of £40 to support the rector. (fn. 13) The living was worth £90 in 1650, (fn. 14) £140 in 1750, (fn. 15) and £455 in 1856. (fn. 16)
In the early 17th century the tithes were leased to the two principal landholders, those from Shipton Moyne manor at a rent of £13 13s. 4d. in 1612, (fn. 17) and those from Estcourt manor at £14 in 1614 (fn. 18) and £18 c. 1664. (fn. 19) In 1677 the tithes of all the parish were paid in kind save those on cows and calves. (fn. 20) The tithes from Estcourt manor were leased to Thomas Estcourt in the 1780s. (fn. 21) The tithes of the part of the parish unaffected by the inclosure were commuted in 1838 for a rent-charge of £370. (fn. 22) The glebe in 1677 included 54 a. in the open fields and 12½ a. in closes, (fn. 23) and at inclosure of the open fields in 1742 the rector was allotted c. 157 a. for his glebe and tithes. (fn. 24) The glebe, leased to T. G. B. Estcourt in 1834, (fn. 25) comprised 173 a. in 1838. (fn. 26) In 1855 13 a. were sold to redeem land-tax (fn. 27) and in 1858 on an exchange of land the rector received c. 93 a. (fn. 28) The glebe was sold off piecemeal, the last bit in 1960. (fn. 29)
The rectory house, mentioned in 1597, (fn. 30) had 12 bays in 1677 (fn. 31) and stood west of the church. It was rebuilt between 1814 and 1816, the cost being met by a loan from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 32) It was sold in 1957 when a new rectory was built on a site to the west. (fn. 33)
In 1340 the rector Thomas of Thornhill had leave of absence for over a year; (fn. 34) after his death an inquiry was ordered in 1350 into dilapidations during his incumbency. (fn. 35) In 1380 Henry Appleby was allowed to be non-resident on account of his age and infirmity. (fn. 36) William Estcourt, instituted in 1422, (fn. 37) had leave in 1424 to hold another benefice for 7 years. (fn. 38) Richard Jennings, formerly prior of Maiden Bradley (Wilts.), was rector between 1540 and 1553. (fn. 39) The living was served by curates (fn. 40) as he was non-resident; in 1551 the curate was found satisfactory in doctrine but could not prove the Articles. (fn. 41) John Strange, a former monk of Cirencester, who was rector 1553-66, (fn. 42) also held the livings of Preston and Maiseyhampton in 1563 (fn. 43) and was non-resident. (fn. 44) His successor Martin Rainscroft was non-resident (fn. 45) and in 1572 his curate, who was not licensed, was suspended. (fn. 46) In the 1570s the parishioners neglected to attend services and the young were not catechized. (fn. 47) Because of Rainscroft's negligence John Hodges, the farmer of the rectory, appointed a preacher, supported from the tithes, c. 1593. (fn. 48) Rainscroft was presented in 1599 for preaching without licence, and in 1605 for failing to preach monthly services, instruct the young, or wear the hood. (fn. 49) In 1612 he agreed with Thomas Hodges to support a preaching minister out of the rent of the tithes. (fn. 50)
John Oldham, rector 1624-57, (fn. 51) had Puritan sympathies; in 1634 he took an oath before the High Commission to answer the Articles (fn. 52) but he later preached against church services and religious paintings. (fn. 53) In 1650 he was described as a preaching minister. (fn. 54) Daniel Capel, rector from 1658, (fn. 55) subscribed in 1662 but apparently later refused to conform and moved to Stroud. (fn. 56) William Hodges, rector 1697-1740, also held Ashley rectory from 1709, and during his incumbency the living was served by curates. (fn. 57) William Nowell, rector 1746- 1753, (fn. 58) later became lord of Shipton Moyne manor. His successor Richard Huntley (d. c. 1794) was later presented to Boxwell (fn. 59) where he resided, appointing curates to serve Shipton. (fn. 60) During the long incumbency, 1805-56, of Edmund William Estcourt, who also held Long Newnton rectory in 1808, the living was served by curates. (fn. 61) Estcourt was lord of Lasborough manor 1814-26. (fn. 62) Another long ministry was served by Thomas Gildart Golightly, rector 1856-1910. (fn. 63) In 1972 the vicar of Tetbury was appointed to act as priest-in-charge, pending a proposed union of the living with Westonbirt with Lasborough. (fn. 64)
The medieval church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST (fn. 65) comprised chancel with north vestry, central tower with south chapel, and nave with north aisle and porch. (fn. 66) The church was almost completely rebuilt in 1864 to designs by T. H. Wyatt (fn. 67) but parts of the north aisle and the south chapel, the mortuary chapel of the Estcourts, were retained. On the exterior of the chapel is a plaque with the date 1749 and the initials of Edmund Estcourt. At the rebuilding the tower was removed and the nave extended eastwards to the enlarged chancel. The south chapel was extended westwards to form a south aisle and a low embattled tower with a porch was built on the south-west corner.
In the chancel are early-14th-century effigies of two knights and a lady, probably members of the Moyne family. Several monuments of the Hodges family are set in the north aisle. The south chapel contains many memorials of the Estcourt family, including the large painted tomb with effigies of the lawyer Thomas Estcourt (d. 1599) and his wife. A monument to Sir Thomas Estcourt (d. 1624) and his wife was brought from Lasborough church in 1825. (fn. 68) The old octagonal font recorded in the church in 1843 (fn. 69) was replaced, apparently at the rebuilding, by one in memory of Edward Dugdale Bucknall Estcourt (d. 1864). (fn. 70) Five bells were recorded in 1680, (fn. 71) of which one, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, had been cast in the mid 15th century (fn. 72) and two in 1620. The other two were recast by Abraham Rudhall in 1704. A sixth was cast in 1865 by G. Mears of London. (fn. 73) In 1680 the church plate included a silver chalice. (fn. 74) It was presumably replaced by the set of plate, including a chalice dated 1744 and a flagon and pair of patens dated 1753, given by Walter Hodges in 1753 and 1754. (fn. 75) The oak lectern was given in 1911 in memory of the rector T. G. Golightly. (fn. 76) The registers survive from 1570. (fn. 77)