Fretherne and Saul: Churches

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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'Fretherne and Saul: Churches', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds, (London, 1972) pp. 165-168. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]


The church of Fretherne existed by 1281, when John of Dursley was instituted to the rectory on the presentation of Hugh son of Otto. (fn. 1) The next known rector, William of Fretherne, (fn. 2) may have belonged to the same family as the lords of Fretherne manor, and the next known patron after 1281 was Geoffrey of Fretherne, lord of the manor, in 1307. (fn. 3) The association of the church with the manor and its nearness to the manor-house suggest that it was founded by the lord of Fretherne for his tenants, perhaps in the same period as Saul church became a chapel of Standish, (fn. 4) for the intermingling of the lands of Fretherne and Saul indicates that they originated as one parish. The advowson of Fretherne descended with the manor until 1778; (fn. 5) the Revd. John Hayward who was patron for one turn c. 1750 (fn. 6) was presumably the representative of one of the sisters and coheirs of the last William Bayly. R. G. D. Yate, after selling the manor, (fn. 7) continued as patron, but by 1812 the advowson had passed to Edward Bloxsome. In 1824 James Hartley Dunsford was instituted on his own presentation, (fn. 8) and in 1834 the Revd. C. F. Fenwick was patron. Edward Tierney acquired the advowson, and in 1844 (fn. 9) presented his son-in-law, W. L. Darell, who succeeded him as patron. The advowson then descended with the Darell baronetcy, (fn. 10) and in 1967 Sir Jeffery Darell was joint patron of the united benefice, formed in 1950, of Saul with Fretherne and Framilode. (fn. 11)

Although it was a rectory the living of Fretherne was comparatively poor, being assessed at £4 13s. 4d. in 1291 (fn. 12) and just over £5 clear in 1535. (fn. 13) In 1650 it was said to be worth £30. (fn. 14) The glebe included 44 ridges in the fields c. 1710, (fn. 15) and amounted to 24 a. in 1842. (fn. 16) Dorothy Bayly (d. 1728) by her will gave Jackson's Farm, Wheatenhurst, subject to life interests and annuities, in trust for the incumbents of Fretherne and Wheatenhurst equally, thus nearly doubling the value of Fretherne rectory. (fn. 17) In 1856 the rectory was worth £288 clear. (fn. 18) The rector received all the tithes; the customs for the payment of small tithes were stated in 1705. (fn. 19) The rectory house, mentioned c. 1390, (fn. 20) had only two hearths in 1672, when perhaps it was being rebuilt, (fn. 21) and in 1690 it was a fairly small house containing a hall, a schoolroom, three bedrooms, and a cheese-loft. The old rectory was demolished c. 1850 to make way for Fretherne Court, built by the rector as his own property, and a new rectory was built ¼ mile north by 1862. (fn. 22) The new rectory, a two-story building of rendered brick with wide eaves and two projecting bays enclosed by a castiron verandah, was used as a private house in 1967, when the incumbent lived at Saul Vicarage.

In 1339 and 1340 the rector, Roger Abraham, was licensed to be absent from his benefice in the service of John de Sapy, knight. (fn. 23) In 1383 William Fairoak, Rector of Fretherne, began to make an exchange of the benefice, (fn. 24) but he either returned to Fretherne or failed to complete the exchange. The failure may have caused or resulted from the hostility of James Clifford, lord of Fretherne manor, who brought charges of felony and rape against the rector and in 1386 dispossessed him, keeping him out of the living for seven years. In 1394 James entered a bond not to harm the rector, but continued by threats to prevent the rector's proctor from receiving the income and the curate from living in the parish. William Fairoak was still rector in 1402, (fn. 25) but a new rector was instituted in 1404. (fn. 26) The rector in 1540, Thomas Harper, was excused attendance at the visitation because he was old and blind. His curate then, William Luffingham, (fn. 27) was rector 1542-82, (fn. 28) and was followed in turn by James Luffingham, rector 1582-1632, (fn. 29) and Richard Luffingham, rector 1632-64. (fn. 30) The Luffinghams, who thus held the living for a continuous 122 years without interruption by either the Interregnum (fn. 31) or the Restoration, (fn. 32) also had a small freehold estate in the 17th century. (fn. 33) George Perkins, rector from 1673, (fn. 34) and brother of the poet Joseph, (fn. 35) was licensed in 1678 to serve as master of the public school of Fretherne, (fn. 36) which may explain the presence of the schoolroom, mentioned above, in the rectory in 1690. John Talbot, rector 1695-1704, went as a missionary to North America. (fn. 37) In 1750 and 1824 Fretherne church had only one service each Sunday: (fn. 38) Henry Gorges Dobyns Yate, rector 1781-1812, lived at Bromsberrow, where he was rector; (fn. 39) J. H. Dunsford, rector 1824-34 (fn. 40) and also Vicar of Frampton, resigned after the archbishop had upheld the bishop's refusal to continue to license his nonresidence. (fn. 41) William Lionel Darell (d. 1883), who became a baronet and the chief landowner in Fretherne, and was largely responsible for rebuilding the church, was rector 1844-78. (fn. 42) Of the 20th- century rectors, A. C. Oliver, 1918-28 and 1933- 1944, (fn. 43) took an active interest in the history of the parish. (fn. 44)

Saul church was at one time a chapel of Standish. In the mid 13th century it was said that some 200 years earlier the tithes of the fishery at Framilode were given to the parish church of Saul. (fn. 45) Saul may therefore have originally been independent of Standish church, becoming subject to it because both Saul and Standish belonged to Gloucester Abbey. Saul was stated to be a chapel of Standish between 1218 and 1236, but nevertheless the inhabitants were described as parishioners of Saul and they had right of burial there. (fn. 46) The chaplain of Saul was provided by the Vicar of Standish. (fn. 47) The church of Saul continued to be named as a chapel of Standish up to 1839, (fn. 48) but by then the gradual endowment of the chapelry had made it an independent living, usually called a perpetual curacy, (fn. 49) and Saul had all the characteristics of a separate parish. The living was declared a vicarage in 1866. (fn. 50) In 1937 it was united with Whitminster, and Fretherne and Framilode were added to the united benefice in 1950. In 1961 Whitminster was separated from the united benefice and joined with Moreton Valence. (fn. 51) The patronage of Saul remained with the Vicar of Standish, who was one of the three patrons of the united benefice in 1967. (fn. 52)

In the late 16th century the chaplain of Saul had 5¼ a. in the fields as an endowment. (fn. 53) In 1705 the curate was said to receive, according to an old custom, 6s. 8d. a yardland for small tithes, (fn. 54) totalling £5 a year. (fn. 55) The tithes were commuted in 1842 for a rent-charge of £42, (fn. 56) and the glebe, some of which seems to have been lost, (fn. 57) was replaced by an allotment of 1 a. at inclosure in 1843. (fn. 58) Meanwhile, between 1740 and 1792, the living had been augmented by three capital sums of £200 each from Queen Anne's Bounty and one from Thomas Savage, Vicar of Standish, (fn. 59) with which land in King's Stanley was bought. (fn. 60) The living, which had been worth £13 6s. 8d. a year in 1650, when it was proposed to unite it with Fretherne, (fn. 61) had increased to £107 by 1786 (fn. 62) and to £132 clear by 1856. (fn. 63) No house for the curacy is recorded before 1839, when a private house in Frampton occupied by the incumbent was constituted the glebe house. (fn. 64) A new vicarage, a two-story brick house, was built in Saul c. 1850. (fn. 65)

John Taylor of Saul, chaplain, for whose death James Clifford received a pardon in 1385, (fn. 66) may have served the chapel of Saul. (fn. 67) In 1408 Philip, chaplain of Saul, was charged with incontinence. (fn. 68) Several of the 16th-century chaplains or curates appear to have devoted their attentions exclusively to Saul, (fn. 69) though in 1563 William Luffingham, Rector of Fretherne, was curate. (fn. 70) In 1586 the unnamed curate of Saul was accused of seditious speeches. (fn. 71) Except for George Perkins, Rector of Fretherne, in 1673, (fn. 72) the names of the 17th-century curates have not been found, and perhaps then, as in the 18th century, Saul shared a minister with Fretherne or another neighbouring church. (fn. 73) From the 1830s until the 1930s Saul had its own minister, (fn. 74) and in 1967 its vicarage remained the parsonage house of the united benefice.

Framilode church, the third one of the united benefice, was consecrated in 1854 (fn. 75) and had a parish assigned to it in 1855. The parish stretched along the river bank, and included, in addition to Upper and Lower Framilode, the settlements at Epney in Moreton Valence, Baldwins in Moreton Valence and Whitminster, and Priding in Arlingham. (fn. 76) The perpetual curacy, which was declared to be a rectory in 1866, (fn. 77) was liberally endowed and by 1879 was worth £300 a year. (fn. 78) The patron was the Bishop of Gloucester, who was joint patron after the formation of the united benefice. (fn. 79) A parsonage house, in stone in a Gothic style, had been built immediately west of the church by 1863. (fn. 80) After the union with Saul and Fretherne in 1950 the parsonage became a private house.

The church of ST. MARY, (fn. 81) Fretherne, was entirely rebuilt in the mid 19th century and retains of its ancient fabric only three 13th-century coffinlids, which appear to be earlier than the first known documentary reference to the church in 1281, noted above. An enlargement or rebuilding of the church may be indicated by the fact that it was one of those dedicated by the Bishop of Worcester in 1315. (fn. 82) In the early 18th century it was said to be a small church of one entire aisle with a wooden tower at the west end. (fn. 83) A view of the church in 1841 shows it to have been a simple building with no break visible on the outside between chancel and nave. The tower, with a pitched roof, was little more than a bellcot, and there was a porch near the west end of the north wall. The east window was a square opening with mullions and transoms; the north windows were two tall lancets, perhaps of the 13th century, and between them, placed high up, was a small window which may have been of the 12th century. (fn. 84) In 1835 a faculty for a gallery under the belfry was granted, (fn. 85) but the accommodation remained inadequate. (fn. 86)

The rebuilding of the church in 1846 and 1847 to the designs of Francis Niblett was largely the result of the efforts of the rector, W. L. Darell. (fn. 87) The new church, in brown sandstone with Bath stone dressings, comprised chancel with south vestry, nave, north aisle, and north-west tower with pinnacles and a crocketed spire. The lowest stage of the tower forms an entrance porch. (fn. 88) In 1857 Darell enlarged and embellished the church, (fn. 89) adding a south aisle with a transeptal chapel and a mortuary chapel to Sir Edward Tierney on its south side and an organ chamber at its east end. The whole building is enriched with much carved stonework; all the glass is coloured, the internal fittings are elaborate, including the Victorian royal arms on carved wood, and the woodwork of the roofs is richly painted. There was one bell c. 1703, (fn. 90) which was replaced by a new one in 1847. (fn. 91) There is a chalice of 1766 and a communion service of 1847. (fn. 92) Monuments include several to members of the Darell family; older monuments (fn. 93) were removed or covered up in 1847. The registers begin in 1631, and are virtually complete.

The church of ST. JAMES (fn. 94) at Saul comprises chancel, nave, north aisle, west tower, south porch, and north-east vestry and organ-chamber. The chancel and tower are of ashlar, the nave of large blocks of roughly hewn stone: the roofs have Cotswold stone slates. The church was described c. 1703 as a small chapel with a strong tower at the west end. (fn. 95) The chancel may date from the 14th century, and retains an eaves cornice carved with leaves and flowers; the windows, however, including the pairs of cusped lancets in the side walls, are part of the extensive 19th-century restorations. The embattled tower was built in the 15th or 16th century: it is of two stages, with diagonal buttresses to the west angles, louvered windows to the belfry, and a west door. A 19th-century stone screen fills the lower part of the tower arch. The nave has three-light windows apparently of the 15th or 16th century, with restored tracery, on each side of the south doorway. There was formerly also a north doorway, which was blocked in 1741 to provide space for an extra pew. (fn. 96) It therefore seems likely that the projection on the north side of the nave in 1843 (fn. 97) was a former porch rather than a vestry. A faculty for a gallery containing four pews was granted in 1833. (fn. 98)

The church was enlarged c. 1850 (fn. 99) by the addition of a north aisle with a lean-to roof running the length of the nave and opening from it through an arcade of four bays in the Early English style. The renewing of the rest of the church, including the provision of new roofs, chancel arch, and south porch, was done either at the same time or in 1864, when a further restoration was made. (fn. 100) There is a tub-shaped 12th-century font, greatly cut down and standing on a modern pillar, (fn. 101) and a carved oak pulpit inscribed 'Edmond Beerd, John Moren, 1636'. The monumental inscriptions within the church recorded in the 18th century (fn. 102) were not visible in 1967. The 19th-century stone reredos depicting the Last Supper, with figures in full relief, is said to have been brought from a Gloucester church. The single bell, inscribed 'Sancte Toma ora pro nobis', (fn. 103) is thought to have been cast by William Warwick in the later 15th century. (fn. 104) A clock was put in the tower in 1887 to mark the queen's jubilee. (fn. 105) The plate includes a flagon of 1573, used as a chalice, (fn. 106) and a chalice of 1697. (fn. 107) The registers begin in 1573 but were badly damaged by water in 1809. (fn. 108)

The church of ST. PETER, Framilode, was built of marlstone with ashlar dressings to the designs of Francis Niblett (fn. 109) in a simple, Italianate style. It comprises a large nave, small apsidal chancel, south vestry, and north-west tower with a pyramidal roof, of which the ground-floor stage serves as a porch. The church, consecrated in 1854, was 'adorned and beautified' in 1857 by the Rector of Fretherne and his wife Harriet Mary, (fn. 110) who appear to have taken a leading part in founding the new church. The internal painting, notably on the woodwork of the roof, survived in 1967. There is one bell, and an organ of 1860 by Joseph Walker of London. (fn. 111)


  • 1. Reg. Giffard, 138.
  • 2. Reg. Giffard. 507.
  • 3. Reg. Sede Vacante, 85.
  • 4. See below.
  • 5. e.g. C.P. 25(1)/77/67/293; C 142/73/80; P.R.O. Inst. Bks.
  • 6. B.G.A.S. Libr., Royce MS. DD, pp. 49-50.
  • 7. See p. 161.
  • 8. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 25.
  • 9. Hockaday Abs. cci.
  • 10. Cf. p. 161; Burke, Peerage (1963), 662-3.
  • 11. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1966-7), 20-21; ex inf. Diocesan Registrar. Whitminster, united with Saul from 1937, was severed from the united benefice in 1961: see below.
  • 12. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 224.
  • 13. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 498.
  • 14. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 94.
  • 15. Atkyns, Glos. 444.
  • 16. G.D.R. Fretherne tithe award.
  • 17. 16th Rep. Com. Char. 66-67; G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 35.
  • 18. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 98.
  • 19. G.D.R. Fretherne terrier, 1704/5.
  • 20. C 1/7/22.
  • 21. E 179/247/14 rot. 13.
  • 22. Michell, 'Fretherne', 54-55. The statement there that J. H. Dunsford, as rector, sold the house may be based on the remark about building a (new) parsonage house: Hockaday Abs. clxxxix, 1829. The rectory house still belonged to the rector in 1842-3: G.D.R. Fretherne tithe award; Glos. R.O., Q/RI 69.
  • 23. Reg. Bransford, 45, 70.
  • 24. Cal. Pat. 1381-5, 307.
  • 25. Rot. Parl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 514; C 1/7/22; Cal. Close, 1392-6, 261.
  • 26. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Clifford, f. 66.
  • 27. Hockaday Abs. xxviii, 1540 visit. f. 18.
  • 28. Ibid. cci; cf. ibid. xlvii, 1576 visit. f. 137.
  • 29. Ibid. cci.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 94.
  • 32. Hockaday Abs. cci, 1662 (subscription by Richard Luffingham).
  • 33. Glos. Colln. deeds 139.9, 37; RF 139.6; Hockaday Abs. cci, 1647.
  • 34. Atkyns, Glos. 444.
  • 35. D.N.B.
  • 36. Hockaday Abs. cci (cited in Trans. B.G.A.S. lix. 224).
  • 37. Glos. N. & Q. i. 326-7.
  • 38. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 35; 383, no. cxlix.
  • 39. Trans. B.G.A.S. xlv. 138; G.D.R. vols. 319-21.
  • 40. Hockaday Abs. cci.
  • 41. Ibid. cc, 1825-33.
  • 42. Cf. pp. 160-1.
  • 43. Inscr. in church.
  • 44. Michell, 'Fretherne', preface.
  • 45. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), ii. 125, 293.
  • 46. Glouc. Cath. Libr., Reg. Abb. Frocester B, p. 98.
  • 47. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 411.
  • 48. Hockaday Abs. cccxlvi.
  • 49. Fosbrooke, Glos. i. 326.
  • 50. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 171.
  • 51. Ex inf. Diocesan Registrar.
  • 52. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1966-7), 20-21.
  • 53. G.D.R. Saul terrier, n.d.
  • 54. Ibid. 1704/5.
  • 55. Atkyns Glos. 639.
  • 56. G.D.R. Saul tithe award.
  • 57. Cf. G.D.R. Saul terrier, 1807.
  • 58. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 69.
  • 59. C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty (1845), p. cclxxxvi.
  • 60. G.D.R. Saul terrier, 1807.
  • 61. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 94.
  • 62. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 27.
  • 63. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 171.
  • 64. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 65. Cf. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 351.
  • 66. Cal. Pat. 1385-9, 59.
  • 67. Cf. Reg. Sede Vacante, 300-1, 314, showing that John Taylor was connected with Saul, not with Sall (Norf.) as stated in Cal. Pat. 1385-9, index.
  • 68. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 69. e.g. ibid. xxvi, 1534 subsidy, f. 27; xxx, 1544 stipendiaries, f. 3; xxxi, 1548 visit. f. 5; xliv, 1572 visit. f. 13; xlix, state of clergy 1584, f. 5; state of clergy 1593, f. 12.
  • 70. Bodl. MS. Rawl. C. 790, f. 7v.
  • 71. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1581-90, 327.
  • 72. G.D.R. Saul terriers, charitable gifts.
  • 73. e.g. Atkyns, Glos. 444, 639; Rudder, Glos. 456, 644.
  • 74. e.g. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 75. Ibid. (1856), 287.
  • 76. Lond. Gaz. 13 Feb. 1855 (p. 547).
  • 77. Ibid. 3 Apr. 1866 (p. 2213).
  • 78. Ibid. 14 Mar. 1873 (p. 1511); Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879), 648.
  • 79. Clergy List (1859); Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1966-7), 20-21.
  • 80. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1863), 268.
  • 81. So called in 1735: G.D.R. vol. 285B (1), f. 24.
  • 82. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Maidstone, f. 29v.
  • 83. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 137; cf. Rudder, Glos. 456; Rudge, Hist. of Glos. i. 359.
  • 84. Drawing in vestry; the plan is shown in Glos. R.O., Q/RI 69.
  • 85. Hockaday Abs. cci.
  • 86. Glos. Colln. RR 139. 1.
  • 87. Ibid.; Illus. London News, 30 Oct. 1847, 285-6.
  • 88. Cf. architect's drawings, Glos. R.O., P 152/CW 3/2.
  • 89. Inscr. in church.
  • 90. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 137.
  • 91. Glos. Ch. Bells, 48.
  • 92. Glos. Ch. Plate, 89.
  • 93. Cf. Bigland, Glos. i. 603-4.
  • 94. So called in 1750: G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 39. The church may have been so named because of the fair held on St. James's day: see above. The possibility that the church was once St. Thomas's is suggested by the inscription on the bell: see below.
  • 95. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 158.
  • 96. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 97. The plan of the church is indicated in Glos. R.O., Q/RI 69.
  • 98. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 99. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 351.
  • 100. Glos. Colln. RF 139.11.
  • 101. Trans. B.G.A.S. xlix. 134-5, 154.
  • 102. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. ccxxxii, which gives the date on the pulpit as 1638.
  • 103. Glos. Ch. Bells, 62.
  • 104. Trans. B.G.A.S. xxviii. 240. The tradition that the former bells of Saul church, sold to pay a debt, are those in Newnham church (Glos. Colln. RF 139.11) is without good foundation; cf. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 158.
  • 105. Glos. N. & Q. iv. 177.
  • 106. Glos. Colln. RF 139.11.
  • 107. Glos. Ch. Plate, 180-1.
  • 108. Glos. R.O., P 283/IN 1/4.
  • 109. Glos. Colln. prints 126.A (1-6).
  • 110. Inscr. in church.
  • 111. Inscr. on organ.