A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Upper Slaughter, three miles south-west from Stow-on-the-Wold and two miles north-west from Bourton-on-the-Water, is an ancient parish of 1,851 a. (fn. 1) and irregular shape stretching from the River Windrush to the River Dikler. The parish was enlarged in 1883 by the addition of two detached parts of Lower Slaughter, the 144 a. of Fir farm on the north-east boundary and the 8 a. of Aston Mill in the south-west. (fn. 2) It was again enlarged in 1935 when all the 1,241 a. of Eyford parish was merged with it. (fn. 3) The history here printed of Upper Slaughter, however, is limited to the area of the parish before these boundary changes. The boundary between Upper Slaughter and Eyford followed the Ey or Slaughter brook downstream to a point 400 yards north of the road from Stow-on-the-Wold to Gloucester, and cut across open land and the road to the Ride plantation, the general line of which it followed back to the road, which formed part of the rest of the boundary. (fn. 4)
The land of the parish lies between 450 ft. in the river valleys and 750 ft. in the northern extremity; there are many bold hillsides and few stretches of level ground in the parish, which is divided through the middle by the Slaughter brook, winding through its deep and narrow valley. The lower land of the parish is on the Middle and Upper Lias, the higher land on the Oolite and Chipping Norton Limestone. (fn. 5) The soil varies greatly from field to field, in depth and composition: on the exposed uplands it is thin and stony. Nearly the whole parish is open farm-land, divided up more by stone walls than by hedgerows, and except for Long Plantation in the north, a postinclosure plantation probably of the 18th century, and the park made at Copse Hill in the 19th century there is no extensive woodland.
The parish was crossed by three ancient roads, the Stow-on-the-Wold to Gloucester road (turnpiked in 1755), (fn. 6) Buckle Street, (fn. 7) near which are remains of two round barrows, (fn. 8) and Ryknild Street (locally called Condicote Lane), which disappears from sight shortly after entering the parish. The route from Bourton-on-the-Water to Condicote seems to have been diverted through Upper Slaughter, so that there was no need to keep the southernmost stretch of Condicote Lane open. Romano-British burials on Copse Hill and Becky (or Beggy) Hill, (fn. 9) on either side of the Slaughter brook, may indicate a settlement in Upper Slaughter, an offshoot perhaps of Bourton, but there is no evidence of post-Roman occupation until the 11th century. If the name Slaughter was used of the ford (fn. 10) near Lower Slaughter before it was used of either village (fn. 11) it is likely that Lower Slaughter was the earlier settlement, from which Upper Slaughter was later founded. The supposition that Upper Slaughter castle mound was built to resist the Danes (fn. 12) has no foundation in fact.
The castle was built with a flat-topped mound, of which the top seven feet were made-up soil, above an irregular bailey from which the ground dropped to the Slaughter brook on the north and to a moat on the east. (fn. 13) Excavation in the moat has produced 12th- and 13th-century potsherds, (fn. 14) and it is likely that the castle, which is not in a commanding position, was built for purely local defence, and was used only for a short period. Any possibility that the king's sergeant in Slaughter in 1190 and 1239 (fn. 15) was connected with it is made remote by the complete absence from the Pipe Rolls of the late 12th century and early 13th of any reference to a castle or defensive works in Slaughter. The sergeant was presumably connected with the royal manor in Lower Slaughter, and the prison, (fn. 16) which would certainly have been part of any royal castle, was in Lower Slaughter.
The castle mound is on a bend in the Slaughter brook, and on the shoulder by which it is connected to the hillside behind stands the church (apparently older than the castle), with the village straddling the shoulder. Northwards the houses have crossed the brook and follow it downstream; to the south the building of small houses has been inhibited, and some houses have been pulled down, because the two big houses of the village are there. The manorhouse, on the site of the 14th-century capital messuage, the Well Place, (fn. 17) which may have given its name to Richard Atwell, lord of the manor, (fn. 18) closes the village on the south; between it and the village centre is the former parsonage house known as the Manor (as distinct from the manor-house) since 1875, when a new rectory was built on the northwest corner of the village. (fn. 19) This second rectory became known as the old rectory in 1955, when the Church Commissioners sold it, (fn. 20) and in 1961 was known as 'The Way's End'.
The village centres on an open square which is joined at one corner to the churchyard. The square may have been larger and extended alongside the churchyard until a messuage on its edge was developed, and perhaps enlarged, as a group of cottages in which paupers were housed and which was known up to the 20th century as Bagehott's Square. In 1693 a barn there, already used as a house, was made habitable, (fn. 21) and the number of houses there began to grow soon after (fn. 22) until it was 11 in the early 19th century. In 1859 privies and a bakery were added; in 1873 it was agreed that the houses should be tidied up and one house pulled down to make more room; (fn. 23) and c. 1908 the whole of Bagehott's Square was remodelled as eight cottages. (fn. 24)
Roads lead from the square south to the manorhouse and west to join the road leading one way to Naunton and the other to Bourton. The course of the road to the manor-house was moved in the late 18th century to give more privacy to the rectory. (fn. 25) The roads leading north and east out of the square to encircle the castle mound had each a bridge across the brook by 1738. (fn. 26) The general direction of these and other minor roads and tracks in the parish had been established by 1731. Before the inclosure of the parish in that year there were no buildings away from the village, (fn. 27) and the dispersal of farm-houses afterwards was gradual. Wales Barn was built fairly soon after inclosure but did not immediately become a farm-house, (fn. 28) and Kirkham Farm was the only outlying house to be built in the 18th century. (fn. 29) Hill Farm was built in the mid-19th century to replace the old rectory farm west of the parsonage house, (fn. 30) and in 1872 the large house and farm buildings at Copse Hill were begun. In 1910 Manor Farm with two cottages was moved a mile south-west from the original site near the manor-house, (fn. 31) and in 1961 only two of the farm-houses in the village were used as such.
The population of the parish, which may have declined in the early 14th century, (fn. 32) numbered probably not more than 80 from the late 14th century until after 1563. (fn. 33) In the late 16th century it rose by half or more (fn. 34) and then grew slowly until the last quarter of the 18th century, (fn. 35) when it again rose by about half. From 1801 to 1951 the population was fairly constant at about 250, except between 1881 and 1901 when it rose to over 300: (fn. 36) the severe depopulation that hit so many neighbouring parishes between 1871 and 1921 did not happen at Upper Slaughter, perhaps because the three large gentry houses provided plenty of employment.
There are many springs and wells near the village, (fn. 37) and a spring beside the manor-house, from which water was piped to the Manor, to Home Farm, and to a fountain (fn. 38) built in the square in 1858, may have given the medieval house, the Well Place, its name. In 1903, however, water for the manor-house and its estate was piped from Aston Bottom, in the extreme west of the parish, and in 1905 an overflow supply from it with eight stand-pipes in the village was given to the parish council. In 1951 the supply from Aston Bottom became part of the main water system of the North Cotswold Rural District, and soon afterwards all the houses in the village (except the Manor and the Dingle, which shared a private supply) were connected with the main supply. Main electricity became available in the village in 1939. The village was provided with a land irrigation system for sewage disposal which was begun in 1899, unusually early in a rural area. (fn. 39) A washpool for sheep near the lower bridge, which was given to the parish in 1826, (fn. 40) was filled up in 1950. (fn. 41) A parish lending library was opened in 1825, (fn. 42) and continued in use into the 20th century. (fn. 43)
All the houses in the village, and in the parish as a whole, are built of stone, partly, perhaps, from the numerous old quarries in the parish. Most have Cotswold stone roofs, although to the end of the 18th century thatch was used on the cottages. (fn. 44) The older houses in the village have the usual characteristics of 17th-century Cotswold building, built of rubble masonry with mullioned windows and dormers or gables. The barns adjoining some of the farm-houses appear to have been built in the 18th century. The group of eight cottages in the square was restored and remodelled in or after 1906 by Lutyens, who had altered and enlarged the house at Copse Hill a few years before. (fn. 45) No new house was built in the village after 1905, when the Dingle was built as a dower house for the Manor. (fn. 46)
The old manor-house (which was separated from most of the manorial estate in 1852) was mainly built in the late 16th century, but it incorporates a basement with a stone-groined roof of the 15th century. It was built on sloping ground, and has three stories on the west and four on the east. The house is of rubble with a Cotswold stone roof; it is L-shaped, and originally had three main gables facing west and three facing south. A two-story porch with Doric and Ionic pilasters and a semicircular pediment was added in the early 17th century. (fn. 47) By 1742 the house was out of repair and described as no more than a farm-house. (fn. 48) It appears to have been used as a farmhouse until it was restored in the late 19th century, leaving little trace of the original internal arrangements, and in the early 20th century it was enlarged by the addition of a fourth gable to the west front. (fn. 49) In 1961 the house was unoccupied.
The house called the Manor, originally the parsonage house, was in 1680 a building of four bays, with two stories and dormered attics, described in 1705 as a very good house. (fn. 50) To it were added in the late 18th century gabled north and south wings, and c. 1855 a further south wing was added and bay windows built out on the eastern side. In 1875 a new house was built as a parsonage and the Manor, as it then came to be called, (fn. 51) became the permanent home of the Witts family, whose heads had been rectors since 1808 and lords of the manor since 1852. (fn. 52)
From the mid-18th century, when the manor passed from the Slaughter family, successive rectors were the leading inhabitants of the parish. With the building of the house at Copse Hill and the occupation of the old manor-house by gentry in the late 19th century the social character of the village was influenced by the high proportion of the leisured class living there, an influence made the more pervasive by the nearness of the two large houses in Eyford—Eyford Park and Rockcliffe—for which Upper Slaughter was the local village. (fn. 53) On a less exalted social level the Collett family is noteworthy. It was settled in the village by the early 16th century, (fn. 54) and was active there in 1961. In the 17th and 18th centuries several branches of the family between them formed a considerable proportion of the population, and farmed much of the land. (fn. 55)
The village suffered damage from an air-raid during the Second World War, though there were no casualties. More remarkable was the fact that no one from the village was killed in either the First or Second World War. (fn. 56) In 1920 a village hall, which housed the village reading room, was opened in commemoration of the safe return of inhabitants of Upper Slaughter from the First World War. (fn. 57)
Manor and Other Estates.
Upper Slaughter (fn. 58) was apparently the estate held as two manors by Offa and Lewin in 1066 and twenty years later as one manor by Roger de Lacy and his mother. (fn. 59) Evesham Abbey's claim to have been deprived of this estate (fn. 60) seems to be unfounded. (fn. 61) The overlordship of the manor has not been traced: in 1467 the manor of UPPER SLAUGHTER was held of the Abbess of Syon, presumably as a sub-manor of Lower Slaughter, (fn. 62) and this relationship lasted into the 17th century. (fn. 63) In 1303, however, the manor was said to be held of the lordship of Gloucester, (fn. 64) and the two estates of 1066 were more than sub-manors of the royal manor in Lower Slaughter. (fn. 65)
The manor may have been subinfeudated by the late 12th century to members of a family who used Slaughter as a surname and were men of substance in the county, (fn. 66) but their connexion with the manor is not defined until 1282 when a John Slaughter and his wife held a manor as the wife's inheritance. (fn. 67) Her heir may have been the Maud who married William of Slaughter (d. 1298), son of Henry Gerard of Slaughter, (fn. 68) and who, as Maud of Munsley, (fn. 69) held ¼ knight's fee in Upper Slaughter in 1303. (fn. 70)
Her estate there had passed to Richard Atwell of Upper Slaughter by 1346, (fn. 71) and apparently by 1323 when he held the advowson; (fn. 72) he held some land in Upper Slaughter, though not necessarily the manor, before 1314. (fn. 73) He died in or after 1349 (fn. 74) leaving two daughters as coheirs, but the estate was not per- manently divided. (fn. 75) The advowson (and perhaps the manor also) was held in 1383 by Thomas Clench of London (fn. 76) and in 1403 by William Slaughter or Clench, (fn. 77) apparently the same as the William Slaughter that held the manor and advowson in 1411 and was succeeded by his son and heir Thomas Slaughter in or before 1417. (fn. 78) The estate passed in or before 1454 to Thomas's son and heir, John Slaughter (fn. 79) (d. 1486), to John's son and heir John (fn. 80) whose widow Elizabeth held it in 1494, and, by 1517, to a Gilbert Slaughter who held it in 1536. Another John Slaughter, who had the estate by 1548, (fn. 81) died in 1583, and the estate then appears to have descended in the direct male line through Paris Slaughter (d. 1598), (fn. 82) Chambers Slaughter (fn. 83) (d. 1646), Thomas (fl. 1651 and 1672), (fn. 84) Chambers (d. 1718), (fn. 85) and another Chambers (d. 1740) (fn. 86) to William (d. 1741). All of them apparently lived at Upper Slaughter. (fn. 87) William's sisters and coheirs sold the manor to trustees acting for Mary, daughter and heir of Sir William Dodwell, and later wife of Thomas Tracy of Sandywell Park. (fn. 88) On her death in 1799 the ownership was disputed, (fn. 89) but in 1809 it was bought by James Dutton, Lord Sherborne, (fn. 90) whose son John, Lord Sherborne, was the chief landowner in the parish in 1838. (fn. 91) In 1852 part of the manorial estate (including the old manor-house) was exchanged for the glebe land of Sherborne and Windrush, and later became known as the Copse Hill estate. From the seventies the Copse Hill estate belonged to members of the Brassey family, as it did in 1961, (fn. 92) though the old manor-house had been separated from it in 1913. (fn. 93) The other part of the manorial estate, with any surviving manorial rights, was sold, also in 1852, to the then rector, Francis Edward Witts (d. 1854), who was followed as lord of the manor (and as rector) by his son and grandson, Edward Francis Witts (d. 1886) and F. E. B. Witts (d. 1913). The estate then passed successively to three of the sons of F. E. B. Witts, the youngest of whom, Maj.-Gen. F. V. B. Witts, owned it in 1961. (fn. 94) The manor comprised most of the land of the parish, (fn. 95) but some copyhold land there was held of Lower Slaughter manor. (fn. 96) Most if not all of this copyhold land was added in the early 19th century to the Eyford estate, (fn. 97) which was largely outside the parish though in the early 14th century land in the fields of Upper Slaughter had belonged to the lord of Eyford. (fn. 98) In the 16th and 17th centuries the owners of Eyford continued to hold land in Upper Slaughter parish. (fn. 99) In the 19th century the Eyford estate in the parish was enlarged, reaching nearly 600 a. in 1847, (fn. 100) but not long afterwards much of this was sold off. (fn. 101) Other freehold estates in Upper Slaughter included one granted to Bruern Abbey (Oxon.) by the Rector of Naunton c. 1265 (fn. 102) and granted in 1544 to Edmund Powell, (fn. 103) and one belonging to the Templars in the early 14th century (fn. 104) that subsequently passed with the rest of the estate centred on Temple Guiting to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. (fn. 105)
If, as seems likely, the estate in Slaughter held by the Lacys in 1086 was Upper Slaughter, (fn. 106) the parish at that time was largely a single demesne farm. (fn. 107) By the mid-13th century, however, there were several free estates. (fn. 108) By the end of the 13th century the arable land of the parish was divided into two large open fields, that towards Swell and that towards Harford, (fn. 109) and soon afterwards there is evidence of the importance of sheep-farming in the parish. (fn. 110) The division into two fields, later called the north and south fields, and the emphasis on sheep continued until inclosure in 1731. (fn. 111) In 1341 the inhabitants alleged that during the preceding 50 years there had been a great contraction of agriculture in the parish: a number of tenants had gone away, and nine yardlands that ought to have been cultivated that year lay fallow. (fn. 112) It is not clear whether this was the result of purposeful conversion of arable land to pasture.
Changes in the economy of the parish in the late 14th century and the 15th are not recorded, but by the early 16th century the lord of the manor appears to have had in his own hands over a third of the land, (fn. 113) and in 1535 the rector's tithes from sheep-farming were worth noticeably more than those from grain. (fn. 114) In the early 17th century the demesne estate of the lord of the manor amounted to nearly half of the parish, as measured in yardlands: (fn. 115) to the older demesne had been added two estates of seven and three yardlands. (fn. 116) In the middle of the century the lords of the manor probably did not keep all the demesne in hand: the number of other farmers, nine or more in 1608, (fn. 117) was 14 in 1655. (fn. 118) Their holdings ranged from one to six yardlands in 1672, when the manor farm was still the largest at eight yardlands. (fn. 119)
The division of each yardland into roughly equal holdings in the two fields suggests that a two- or four-course rotation was followed. (fn. 120) The yardlands appear to have ranged in size from 20 to 30 ridges, each ridge being a little under a statute acre, and to have had strips of several but uninclosed meadow belonging to them. (fn. 121) By 1604, and probably long before, Upper Slaughter intercommoned with Lower Slaughter, the permanent pasture for the cows and horses of each village being in Lower Slaughter and for the sheep on the downs above Upper Slaughter. The downland, amounting to nearly 600 a., was on Wagborough Down, west of the village, and on North or Upper Down beyond the main road from Stow-on-the-Wold to Gloucester. (fn. 122) In 1604 as many as 60 sheep were pastured for each yardland. (fn. 123) The large number of animals kept was regarded as a hindrance to good husbandry, and an agreement of 1655 limited the number of sheep to 45 a yardland. (fn. 124)
Even so, the need was felt for a break with openfield agriculture: only the lord of the manor had more than a small proportion of his open-field ridges in consolidated parcels, (fn. 125) and in 1704 one of the farmers inclosed some of his land in defiance of commoning rights. (fn. 126) In 1729, under the leadership of the lord of the manor, (fn. 127) the landholders of Upper Slaughter reached an agreement with those of Lower Slaughter to promote a parliamentary inclosure, (fn. 128) and, although the competing claims of the two villages and litigation between the lords of the manors (fn. 129) seem to have delayed the business, (fn. 130) a separate award was made for each parish under an Act of 1731. (fn. 131) Of the 1,640 a. inclosed in Upper Slaughter 709 a. were allotted to the lord of the manor, 225 a. to the rector, and 211 a. to John Collett. Ten other allotments were made, ranging from ½ a. to 138 a. (fn. 132)
Inclosure resulted in the ploughing up of most of the downland, (fn. 133) and perhaps in the conversion to pasture of some of the lower lying land where in 1961 ridge and furrow remained visible in the grassland. Certainly there was no widespread conversion to pasture, and until c. 1870 over two-thirds of the land remained in cultivation. (fn. 134) In 1801 the parish produced a high proportion of oats and particularly of turnips. (fn. 135) The number and size of farms does not seem to have changed greatly, and for more than a century after inclosure there were up to a dozen farms of 40 a. or more. (fn. 136) After c. 1870 the amount of arable land in the parish decreased, while fewer sheep and more cattle were kept, (fn. 137) as in neighbouring parishes. At the same time the farms in Upper Slaughter became fewer and larger. In 1961 there were seven farms, two of which were over 150 a., and one of which, Manor farm, was a model dairy farm; the proportions of grassland and arable in the parish were about equal.
It is likely that the many quarries in the parish provided work for some of the inhabitants: roofing slates from Slaughter were used for Bicester Priory and New College, Oxford, in 1440 and 1452–3, (fn. 138) and a quarry in Upper Slaughter is known to have been working in 1721. (fn. 139) The evidence for cloth industry in the village is slight: a walker held land in Upper Slaughter c. 1300, (fn. 140) and a weaver was named among the inhabitants in 1608. Other trades followed in the parish were ancillary to agriculture: there was a blacksmith in 1608 (fn. 141) and 1672, (fn. 142) and carpenters and wheelwrights were named in the 18th (fn. 143) and 19th centuries. Up to the mid-19th century there was an off-licence, and from before 1856 until c. 1944 there was at least one village shop. (fn. 144) In 1811 there were seven families engaged in trade and manufacture, and nine in 1831. (fn. 145) The carpenter's trade grew into a general building trade; the last blacksmith retired in 1948. (fn. 146) Stone-quarrying in the parish appears not to have survived into the 20th century, though in 1961 some inhabitants worked in quarries elsewhere. A few others worked at Rissington airfield, but in general those employed outside the parish were a small proportion, and the cottages in the village had not become the homes of professional or retired people from elsewhere. (fn. 147)
The sole reference found to a mill in Upper Slaughter is that in the Domesday Survey, which records a mill worth 12s. belonging to the Lacy manor. (fn. 148) The name 'le Oldemelle' for a tenement belonging to Upper Slaughter manor in 1440 (fn. 149) may refer to this 11th-century mill, and may indicate that it was no longer used as a mill. In the early 17th century the lords of Upper Slaughter held Little Aston Mill as copyhold of Lower Slaughter manor, and sub-leased it to the millers. (fn. 150)
A few court rolls survive for the period 1729–40; most of the business recorded relates to encroachments on the waste and strays. (fn. 151) The records of parish government begin with the churchwardens' and overseers' accounts, starting in 1677; the constables' accounts begin in 1684, (fn. 152) the surveyors' in 1768. (fn. 153) In the late 17th century there were two churchwardens (as in 1543) (fn. 154) and two overseers, the overseers of one year usually becoming the churchwardens of the next, (fn. 155) but from the mid18th century there was only one overseer (as in 1830) (fn. 156) and one churchwarden; (fn. 157) there were again two churchwardens by 1811. (fn. 158) There was also only one surveyor. (fn. 159)
In the late 17th century the overseers and constable made their own levies, though they also received payments from the churchwardens. The vestry at that time looked to the leadership provided by the lord of the manor, who served the office of churchwarden in 1685 and overseer in 1696. His son followed him as leader in the vestry, and in the later 18th century and early 19th the position was taken by the rector, (fn. 160) who was surveyor in 1811. (fn. 161) In 1774 it was resolved that vestry meetings should be held regularly once a month, and that the minute and account books should be open to all. (fn. 162)
In the early 19th century, with poor relief becoming an increasingly pressing problem, the vestry closely supervised the work of the overseer, little being left to his discretion. (fn. 163) In 1741 £17 had been spent on weekly doles; (fn. 164) relief was not given to those who would not wear the pauper's badge, and those without settlement were removed. (fn. 165) Expenditure on the poor rose little until the end of the 18th century, but the figure for 1803 (which included £47 for suits and removals) was over ten times the average for 1783–5. (fn. 166) The number of those relieved, and especially of those occasionally relieved, was thereafter reduced, and expenditure on the poor was reduced to about half its 1803 level and kept there, comparatively low and unusually stable, until right into the 1830's. (fn. 167) In 1813 there was some use of the roundsman system, (fn. 168) but in 1818 it was decided to use it only for women and old men, able-bodied men and boys being set to work on the roads. (fn. 169) In 1834 road work was the usual parish work, and roundsmen were very rare. (fn. 170)
By 1755 poor families were housed at low rents in cottages belonging to the church and town estate trustees and let to the overseers. (fn. 171) Up to 11 cottages were so let until 1836. (fn. 172) When the tenant of one of these cottages appealed successfully to the magistrates against a reduction in the rate of relief during harvest the overseers reacted by increasing his rent. (fn. 173) Other provision for the poor included, by 1741, the payment of a surgeon. (fn. 174) By 1791 the overseers were buying and selling coal, (fn. 175) and in 1801 they were instructed to sell 48 ells of cloth spun and woven the previous winter at the expense of the parish. In 1803 it was resolved that all the wants of the poor should be paid in money. (fn. 176) By 1833 the parish was paying a subscription to the Gloucester Infirmary. (fn. 177)
Upper Slaughter was included in the Stow-on-theWold Poor Law Union under the Act of 1834, (fn. 178) the Stow-on-the-Wold highway district in 1863, (fn. 179) and the Stow-on-the-Wold Rural Sanitary District under the Local Government Act of 1872 (being transferred to the newly formed North Cotswold Rural District in 1935). (fn. 180) The parish council, which from 1905 to 1947 controlled the village's water supply, (fn. 181) met infrequently in the mid-20th century. (fn. 182)
Architectural evidence indicates that there was a church at Upper Slaughter by the 12th, perhaps by the 11th century. From the 14th century the rectory was in the gift of the lords of the manor. (fn. 183) The lord of the manor in 1831 sold the advowson to the then rector, who in 1852 bought most of the manorial estate. In 1961, after the amalgamation with Lower Slaughter in 1954, the great-grandson of that rector was sole patron of the united benefice. (fn. 184) The two parishes remained distinct, (fn. 185) but Eyford parish, which was without a church from the 16th century and therefore often described as extra-parochial, was effectively part of Upper Slaughter for ecclesiastical purposes (fn. 186) long before the statutory abolition of extra-parochial places in the mid-19th century and the union of Eyford and Upper Slaughter civil parishes in 1935.
The rectory was a comparatively poor one, worth £6 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 187) under £15 clear in 1535, (fn. 188) and c. £80 in 1650. (fn. 189) The rector had some glebe in the common fields c. 1300, (fn. 190) but in 1535 it was returned as only 16 a. of arable and meadow. (fn. 191) By 1680, however, there were two yardlands of glebe, comprising 51 a. of arable and 18 a. of meadow and leys. (fn. 192) In 1731 the glebe was commuted for 45 a. and the tithes for 180 a. (fn. 193) The rectory was valued at c. £100 a year in the mid-18th century, (fn. 194) and c. £200 in the mid-19th. (fn. 195)
The first known rector, in 1251, appears to have been an Italian, (fn. 196) and in the early 14th century three successive rectors were licensed to be absent from the benefice. (fn. 197) There were several exchanges of the benefice by later incumbents, (fn. 198) one of whom was a noted 'chopchurch'. (fn. 199) In the later 15th century, however, one rector, apparently resident, remained for 45 years or more. (fn. 200) One of the 16th-century rectors, a doctor of civil law, provided curates to serve the cure; he was non-resident and described on one occasion as contumacious. (fn. 201) His successor, who was deprived of the living in 1554 and restored in 1559, was in trouble in 1569 because his servant was pregnant and his house and the chancel were out of repair. (fn. 202) The next rector, though resident, was a pluralist and was neither a graduate nor a preacher. (fn. 203) From 1634 until 1699 the rectory was held successively by a father and his son: (fn. 204) the father, described as a preaching minister in 1650, (fn. 205) subscribed in 1662; the son, a pluralist, provided a curate to serve Upper Slaughter. From 1701 all the rectors appear to have been resident, (fn. 206) and the period 1764– 1913 was covered by only four rectors, who were also lords of the manor from 1852. Francis Edward Witts (d. 1854), nephew of his predecessor and father and grandfather of the next two rectors, was actively engaged in the affairs of the county, and, though a pluralist, resided at Upper Slaughter; (fn. 207) during his time the number of Communion services was increased from four a year. (fn. 208)
Maintenance and repair of the church was one of the objects of the church lands trust of 1591. Under a Scheme of 1908, which divided the trust between three separate charities, the ecclesiastical charity received £17 a year in the mid-20th century. (fn. 209)
The church of ST. PETER, so named by 1803 (fn. 210) but called St. Mary's in 1403, (fn. 211) is of stone with a Cotswold stone roof. It was mostly rebuilt in 1877 to comprise chancel, nave, south porch, north chapel, north aisle, and west tower. Much of the original fabric was re-used in 1877, and the plan of the medieval church was not greatly changed. The nave is comparatively short, the tower rising apparently from within its length, as at Bledington; (fn. 212) the north aisle runs the length of tower and nave. Some of the masonry in the lower part of the west wall of the tower has been thought to be Saxon, and a small round-headed light in the tower may be 11th-century. In the late 12th century an arcade of four bays separated nave and north aisle, the arches springing from round columns with carved capitals. This arcade may have been part of new work done after an attack on the church c. 1145 in which the fabric suffered considerable damage. (fn. 213) The western arch of the arcade was filled in when the tower was rebuilt in its present form. It has been suggested that the tower was originally further west, outside the surviving walls of the church, and that it was moved in the 15th century. (fn. 214) The tower fits awkwardly between the south wall of the nave and the north arcade, and much of the masonry of the tower was designed for a broader tower. The tower arch is of three orders, with rich chevron ornament, springing from abaci resting on pilasters, but whereas these features suggest a late 12th-century date, (fn. 215) the arch is pointed, the bases beneath the pilasters are disproportionately tall, and the apex of the arch shows evidence of the rather clumsy re-use of existing material. The pointed arch over the west window is, internally, of two orders, with cable and chevron and nail-head ornament; outside is a beaded hoodmould, off-centre and apparently reset, with 15th-century corbel-heads added. The west window itself is early 14th-century, with three lights and simple tracery. The 12th-century masonry that has been re-used may come not from an earlier tower but from the chancel, which was rebuilt in the 14th century.
In the chancel the 13th-century piscina and 14thcentury sedile and north and south windows appear to be in their original positions. (fn. 216) The tracery of the east window exactly matches that of the west window in the tower. An arched recess in the north wall, probably of the 14th century and fitted with a late 17th-century tomb for members of the Wanley family of Eyford, is thought to have been for an Easter sepulchre.
The upper stages of the tower, which is of three stages with battlements and two-light windows to the bell-chamber, were rebuilt in the 15th century. The angle buttresses of the bottom stage give way at the second stage to diagonal buttresses supported on reset 12th-century corbel-heads, and similar corbelheads support the floor of the bell-chamber while others lie there unused.
A pair of two-light 15th-century windows are thought to have been originally in the south wall; if so, they were moved in the 17th century, when two windows with three-centred arches, keystones, and imposts were put there. Part of one of these 17thcentury windows was built into the south wall in 1877. The 15th-century windows were used to light the west end of the aisle, which was cut off from the rest of the aisle to serve as a vestry, with access through the north wall of the tower. (fn. 217)
Work was done on the church in 1736 and 1770. (fn. 218) In 1822, on the rector's suggestion, the north aisle (excluding the part used for a vestry) was widened, the arcade removed, a west gallery built, and the nave and aisle given a flat ceiling supported by wooden posts standing on the bases of the 12th-century pillars; (fn. 219) at the same time the south porch and doorway were removed, and the entrance to the church was made through the south wall of the tower. In the fifties a north chapel was built in memory of F. E. Witts, whose elaborate tomb it housed, and perhaps at the same time a gabled bellcot was built over the chancel arch. By 1870 the east window of the chancel was blocked, largely, it seems, to make space for an organ gallery. The rebuilding of 1877 included restoring the arcade, extending the west end of the aisle to the width of the rest, resetting the 15thcentury windows, restoring the 15th-century timbers of the roof, rebuilding the south wall, and making another south porch. In the porch are set fragments of a 12th-century archway and tympanum that are likely to come from an earlier south door. (fn. 220)
The deeply sculpted 15th-century font is so large that it is thought that it may have been a 12thcentury tub-shaped bowl cut down. In 1877 a copy of it was made and the original stood in the churchyard 20 years before being taken back into the church. (fn. 221) The monuments in the church include those to members of the families of Slaughter, Witts, and Wanley of Eyford. On the eastern buttress of the tower is a scratch dial, inverted at some rebuilding. (fn. 222) At the end of the 17th century there were five bells, of which three survived in 1961; all three are thought to be medieval (the so-called Eleanor bell was probably cast in Worcester in the early 15th century), though one was re-cast in 1867. Two more bells were added in 1897. (fn. 223) A church clock put in the tower in 1787 (fn. 224) was replaced in 1961 by an electric clock. The plate includes an Elizabethan chalice and a paten of 1717. (fn. 225) The registers begin in 1538, and are virtually complete.
Nearly a third of the population in 1676 was returned as nonconformist, (fn. 226) and during the 18th century, apart from single families of Presbyterians and Independents, there was a considerable community of Baptists. (fn. 227) They may have drawn their strength mainly from the Collett family, which was numerous and influential in the village. (fn. 228) A John Collett was fined for dissent in the 1660's (fn. 229) and the same or another was a dissenting preacher in 1715. (fn. 230) In 1842 the house of William Collett was registered as a place of worship, (fn. 231) presumably for Baptists, (fn. 232) but it seems to have been out of use by 1851. (fn. 233) A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1885, (fn. 234) possibly by a group which had registered a house as a place of worship in 1842, (fn. 235) but it had fallen out of use as a chapel by 1931, and perhaps by 1918. (fn. 236) It was sold in 1954, (fn. 237) and in 1961 was used as a shed.
By 1771 the churchwardens were supporting a day school out of the income from the church lands trust. (fn. 238) In 1789 the rector gave £167 stock to support a Sunday school. Both schools were held on land belonging to the church lands trust, and the day school mistress, teaching reading and the catechism, (fn. 239) was required in return for her salary to teach one child from each family free. (fn. 240) By a deed of 1829 the day school was established as a Church school for 16 poor children. (fn. 241) A new school was built on the same site in 1845, (fn. 242) partly at the expense of the church lands trustees, and in 1874 it was enlarged and placed under a management committee appointed in vestry. A certificated mistress taught about 33 children who paid fees of 2d. or 3d. (fn. 243) Attendance rose to 43 in 1904, (fn. 244) but fell immediately after reorganization to 19 in 1932. (fn. 245) The older children then went to Bourton-on-the-Water. In 1961 the school, an 'aided' school with two teachers, drew some of its 30-odd children from neighbouring parishes. (fn. 246) At the division of the church lands trust in 1908 the educational charity was allotted the school site and buildings and £200 stock. The income from the Sunday school trust is distributed partly in prizes. (fn. 247)
In 1587 and 1589 the Crown granted to people who appear to have been trustees a tenement by the church in Upper Slaughter and land, which in 1591 was conveyed in trust for church purposes and the relief of the poor. The trust was known as the church lands trust or (after the grantor of 1591) as the Bagehott charity. (fn. 248) At inclosure the land was exchanged for 57 a., (fn. 249) the rent from which was the main income of the trust. Dwellings built on the tenement by the church were let to the overseers. (fn. 250) Sums of £10 each given by Elizabeth Guise before 1684, by Ralph Hulles in 1688, and by Samuel Collett in 1773, together with accumulated interest, were borrowed by the churchwardens for the repair of the church and the interest on the loan was treated as a charge on the church lands for the distribution of bread to the poor. (fn. 251) After the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 local government and the administration of the trust were more clearly distinguished. The trust's endowment was sold and the proceeds invested in 1906, and in 1908 the trust was divided into the educational foundation, the ecclesiastical charity, and the eleemosynary charity. In the mid-20th century the eleemosynary charity distributed £17 a year in cash gifts. (fn. 252)