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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A priest was recorded at Painswick in 1086 (fn. 1) and the church there was granted to Llanthony Priory by Hugh de Lacy before 1096. (fn. 2) A vicarage had possibly been ordained by 1237 when Warin de Munchensy confirmed the advowson of Painswick to Llanthony Priory and was given the right to appoint three canons at Llanthony in perpetuity to celebrate mass for the souls of him and his heirs. (fn. 3) The living was certainly a vicarage by 1291 (fn. 4) and has remained one. In 1395 Llanthony Priory was licensed to appropriate the vicarage and serve the cure by members of the community but the grant was evidently not acted upon. (fn. 5) During the 19th century the growth of the outlying settlements resulted in the establishment of district churches at Sheepscombe, Slad, and Edge, and a mission chapel at Uplands. (fn. 6)
At the Dissolution the advowson passed with the rectory (fn. 7) to the Crown but the next presentation was made by David Pole, later bishop of Peterborough, who had received a lease of the advowson from the priory. (fn. 8) The Crown granted the advowson to Sir Christopher Hatton in 1579 (fn. 9) but there was some confusion about its ownership (fn. 10) until it passed to Sir Henry Winston before 1599. (fn. 11) In 1613 the advowson was conveyed by Giles Winston to Winifred and Thomas Bond (fn. 12) who sold it to Nicholas Hampson in 1617. (fn. 13) Thomas Bingle of Hardwicke presented for one turn in 1622. (fn. 14) Before 1642 a Puritan element in the town promoted the purchase of the advowson by the parishioners, who presented through trustees, although the first presentation was reserved to the Heydon family of Shipton Solers. (fn. 15) The terms which governed the presentation of the vicar were vague and the loss of the original deed of purchase led to a number of disputes. At various times the trustees tried to limit the right of election to the chief inhabitants of the parish or to those who had received the sacrament in the year preceding the vacancy in the living, but no satisfactory solution was found, and the acrimony and expense involved in successive elections (fn. 16) ceased only with the sale of the advowson in 1838. (fn. 17) Later the advowson passed through a number of owners, who usually appointed relations to the living, (fn. 18) until 1899 when C. W. D. Perrins exchanged it with the Lord Chancellor, (fn. 19) patron in 1972. (fn. 20)
The vicarage was worth £7 yearly in 1291 (fn. 21) and £14 15s. 1½d. in 1535. (fn. 22) In addition to the small tithes, a vicarage house and 45½ a. of glebe land were attached to the living in 1612, (fn. 23) and the yearly income in 1650 was £80. (fn. 24) In 1679 the vicar paid an annual pension of £1 9s. to the Crown but this had ceased by the early 18th century (fn. 25) when the value of the living remained at £80 yearly. (fn. 26) In 1750 the living was worth £150 yearly, (fn. 27) but it had increased to £550 by 1817 (fn. 28) and remained at that figure in 1856. (fn. 29) In 1839 the small tithes of the parish were commuted for a corn-rent of £426. (fn. 30) There was a new-built vicarage house in 1704, (fn. 31) and it was restored in 1806. (fn. 32) In 1872 a new house was built at the east end of Vicarage Street to the designs of A. W. Maberly. (fn. 33) The house, in the Gothic style with a crenellated parapet, was sold c. 1913, (fn. 34) and the incumbent resided in a small early-18th-century house called Loveday's House, at the east end of the churchyard, in 1972.
Of the medieval vicars of Painswick John of Aston, instituted in 1297, (fn. 35) and Matthew of Haresfield, vicar from 1366, (fn. 36) were probably local men. John Buck, vicar in 1385, (fn. 37) was reinstituted in 1403, (fn. 38) possibly to confirm his title against John Launder with whom he was in dispute in 1389. (fn. 39) A John Launder, possibly the same man, was instituted to the living in 1427. (fn. 40) Patrick Corbett, vicar in 1532 (fn. 41) and until his death in 1548, (fn. 42) was assisted by three curates in 1540, one of whom was an ex-religious, John Haskyns, and another, William Corbett, presumably a relation. William Corbett, whose stipend was paid by Sir Anthony Kingston, (fn. 43) also served the chantry dedicated to Our Lady, which had been founded in Painswick church before 1443 (fn. 44) by Walter Collins, (fn. 45) one of a family of customary tenants. (fn. 46) Part of the chantry lands, which were worth 10s. 7½d. clear in 1548, was farmed by Sir Anthony Kingston. (fn. 47) Patrick Corbett was succeeded as vicar by John Williams (fn. 48) who was assisted in 1551 by an unlearned curate. (fn. 49) A tradition that Richard Cheyney, later bishop of Gloucester, served the living at about this time (fn. 50) has not been substantiated, and Williams was succeeded as vicar by Lawrence Gase in 1554. (fn. 51) The vicar in 1576, Anthony Higgins, was a pluralist who neglected his cure and had leased part of the living. (fn. 52) From 1585 until 1590 the living was held in commendam by John Bullingham, bishop of Gloucester, who was succeeded at Painswick by Robert Edwards, (fn. 53) described as a sufficient scholar but not qualified to preach. (fn. 54)
Francis Yate, vicar from 1599 until 1622, (fn. 55) who held Painswick in plurality with Standish, (fn. 56) was succeeded by William Acson, who resigned in 1641 (fn. 57) having been in trouble with the High Commission. (fn. 58) Acson's successor Thomas Wild, whom he had prosecuted before the High Commission in 1639, (fn. 59) was ejected c. 1644 by the inhabitants of Painswick in favour of the Puritan George Dorwood, (fn. 60) later a signatory of The Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony; (fn. 61) Dorwood remained at Painswick until his death in 1686. (fn. 62) John Downs, vicar from 1701 to 1736, held Painswick in plurality with Sedgeberrow (Worcs.). John Moseley, elected vicar in 1762 (fn. 63) in a hotly disputed contest, took ten years to secure his title, and after his death in 1794 (fn. 64) the living was again the subject of litigation because the trustees refused to present John Fearon, who had been elected by the inhabitants. Fearon secured a decision in his favour in 1807 (fn. 65) but the expenses involved in securing his rights prevented him from residing at Painswick which was served by curates while he ran a boys' school in Liverpool. After Fearon's death the last election for a vicar took place in 1823. (fn. 66) W. H. Seddon, vicar from 1885 to 1890 and again from 1897 to 1917, was very active in local affairs during his tenure of office. (fn. 67)
The parish church of ST. MARY (fn. 68) apparently occupies the site of the church recorded in the late 11th century and is built of limestone ashlar with stone slate roofs. The present church comprises sanctuary, chancel with north and south chapels and south vestry, aisled nave with south porch, and west tower with stone spire. (fn. 69) The oldest part of the fabric appears to be the north chapel, the manorial chapel, which was built in the late 14th or early 15th century. A sanctuary was added to the east end of the chancel during the 15th century, possibly to accommodate the chantry; the sanctuary was later the vicar's responsibility while the chancel belonged to the rectory. (fn. 70) Later in the 15th century the five-bayed nave, the north aisle, and the west tower were built, and in 1505 the church also contained a chapel, possibly the south chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. (fn. 71) The spire was possibly added or repaired in 1632. (fn. 72) In 1741 a classical south aisle with an arcade of Doric columns, designed by Brice Seed, was added by a group of leading inhabitants to house proprietary seats, (fn. 73) and a round-headed east window was inserted in the sanctuary. Galleries were later added in the aisles and the west end of the nave. (fn. 74) The church was restored during 1879 and 1880 when the south chapel and aisle had arcades inserted to match those on the north, a south doorway was opened to the nave, the galleries were removed, the sanctuary, chancel, and nave reroofed, and most of the fittings replaced. In 1883 the top of the church spire was damaged by lightning and rebuilt. Further restoration took place in 1890 when the south chapel was extended eastwards, the fenestration on the south made compatible with that on the north, and a south vestry built. (fn. 75) A south porch was added in 1968. (fn. 76)
A memorial to John Seaman (d. 1623), attributed to Samuel Baldwin, stood in the sanctuary but was broken up in the later 18th century and the figures of Seaman and his wife were placed on the 15th-century tomb-chest beneath a 16th-century canopy which remained from the Kingston monument in the north chapel. (fn. 77) A stone altar-piece designed by John Bryan in 1743 was removed to the south chapel at the restoration, and some wall monuments dating from the 18th century remain in the church. (fn. 78) The peal of ten bells, cast or recast by Abraham Rudhall in 1731, had a further two added by John Rudhall in 1821, and was well known locally until the disbandment of the Ringers' Society in 1862. The two bells of John Rudhall were recast in 1887 and the society was revived in 1895. The bells were later repaired and rehung, some of the wood from the belfry being incorporated in the lych-gate built in 1901. (fn. 79) The plate includes chalices of 1646 and 1664, a paten of 1722, and a flagon of 1721. (fn. 80) The parish registers survive from 1547. (fn. 81)
The churchyard is notable for its clipped yews and for the richly carved, 18th-century tombs attributed to the Bryan family. (fn. 82) The ceremony of clipping (encircling the church with a ring of children), known to have been performed intermittently in the early 19th century, was revived as an annual event in 1897. (fn. 83)
A church at Sheepscombe, dedicated to ST. JOHN and comprising a nave and a small tower, was built to designs of John Wight of Sheepscombe in 1820 (fn. 84) and was extended by the addition of a chancel, south aisle, and vestry designed by Francis Niblett in 1872. (fn. 85) It was served by a curate, who received a salary derived mainly from a grant from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1821, but it remained a chapel of ease to the parish church (fn. 86) until 1844 when it was given an ecclesiastical district. (fn. 87) The living, a perpetual curacy later called a vicarage, was in the gift of the vicar of Painswick. (fn. 88) It has often been served by clerics of evangelical sympathies. (fn. 89)
A chapel, dedicated to the HOLY TRINITY and comprising chancel and nave designed by Charles Baker of Painswick, (fn. 90) was opened at Slad in 1834. (fn. 91) A gallery was added in 1836 (fn. 92) but removed in 1869 when a north aisle and porch were added to designs of Benjamin Bucknall. (fn. 93) The church was given its own ecclesiastical district in 1844 (fn. 94) and was served by perpetual curates, later called vicars, presented by the vicar of Painswick. (fn. 95) An iron mission hut, erected c. 1868 for the new housing estate at Uplands in the ecclesiastical district, was later moved to another site and maintained by T. M. Croome until 1875. It remained in use (fn. 96) until 1910 when a new chapel, dedicated to All Saints and comprising sanctuary, nave, south aisle, and west tower, designed by Temple Moore, was opened at Uplands. (fn. 97) The benefice was thereafter called Slad with Uplands.
A chapel of ease, dedicated to ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST and comprising chancel, nave, and east porch with small spire, designed by S. W. Daukes, (fn. 98) was consecrated at Edge in 1865. (fn. 99) In 1873 Edge ecclesiastical district was created from parts of the parishes of Painswick, Harescombe, Haresfield, and Brookthorpe with Whaddon (fn. 100) and the living became a vicarage in the gift of the bishop. (fn. 101) The benefice was united with the living of Pitchcombe in 1932. (fn. 102)