Wheatenhurst or Whitminster: Church

Pages 296-298

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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Wheatenhurst had a priest, and therefore a church, in 1086. (fn. 1) When c. 1095 the church was given to Troarn Abbey the glebe was described as the land of the priests, (fn. 2) as though there had been more than one serving the church. In 1276, in confirming the exchange of lands between Troarn and Bruton Priory, the bishop assigned the cure of souls in Wheatenhurst to the Prior of Horsley, as Bruton's local agent, (fn. 3) but in 1371 it was ordered that a secular vicar be appointed, (fn. 4) and in 1380 a vicarage was ordained with a fixed portion of £8. (fn. 5) The advowson of the vicarage descended with the rectory estate, (fn. 6) and when in 1554 the Crown granted advowson and rectory together it charged the rectory with the payment of £8 a year to the vicar. (fn. 7) In 1576 there was said to have been no vicar for 20 years, the parish being served by a curate, (fn. 8) and in 1603 the £8 a year was paid to a minister called a stipendiary curate. (fn. 9) In the late 17th century ministers were licensed to serve the cure, and from the 18th century the living was thought to be a perpetual curacy. (fn. 10) Between 1870 and c. 1920 it was called a vicarage, and then once again a perpetual curacy. (fn. 11) The living was united with that of Saul in 1937, and the united benefice was joined with that of Fretherne and Framilode in 1950, but Whitminster was severed from the other three in 1961 and united instead with Moreton Valence. (fn. 12) When the Bengough lands in Wheatenhurst were sold in 1927 the advowson was retained and Capt. N. J. Bengough later made it over to his son, Major P. H. G. Bengough. (fn. 13) Major Bengough had the alternate presentation to the united benefice in 1968. (fn. 14)

The value of the living, put at £10 a year in 1650 (fn. 15) and c. 1708, (fn. 16) was significantly increased by the benefaction of Dorothy Bayly and by three allotments of £200 each, with which 40 a. of land in neighbouring parishes were bought, from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1747, 1767, and 1786. (fn. 17) Dorothy Bayly (d. 1728) by her will gave the reversion of Jackson's farm (112 a.) to trustees who were to pay half the income to a priest serving Wheatenhurst in specific ways and to be nominated by the trustees. (fn. 18) The gift, which took effect after 1750, (fn. 19) became part of the endowment of the living, though the minister was neither nominated by the trustees nor required to perform the specified services, (fn. 20) and the total income rose to £50 c. 1775 (fn. 21) and £166 in 1814; (fn. 22) it afterwards dropped to c. £130 in the later 19th century. (fn. 23)

In 1380, at the ordination of the vicarage, Bruton Priory was to build a house near the church for the vicar, which the vicar was to maintain. (fn. 24) The vicarage house was mentioned as being out of repair in 1572, allegedly through the fault of the lay rector, (fn. 25) and in 1576. (fn. 26) By 1705 the house was gone: it had evidently stood in the vicarage close of ½ a., the only piece of vicar's glebe. (fn. 27) There was still no glebe house in 1835, when the minister, Anthony Ely, was licensed to live at Netherhills in Frampton on Severn. (fn. 28) Ely was later said to live in the glebe house, (fn. 29) but that house was evidently Highfield House, his own property, built before 1838 (fn. 30) and later enlarged. The next vicar lived at Whitminster House, and his successors in other parishes. (fn. 31)

David the chaplain of Wheatenhurst recorded c. 1210 (fn. 32) and Walter Messager, chaplain, in the mid 14th century (fn. 33) may have served the church. William Nicholson or Blomer, vicar in 1498 and 1532, seems to have been non-resident; (fn. 34) his curate in 1517 was involved in a charge of adultery, (fn. 35) and his successor, Edward Rutter, (fn. 36) who had been his curate, (fn. 37) said in 1541 that because the farmers of the rectory refused to pay a minister to assist him, as was customary, most of the church services were omitted. (fn. 38) Curates served the church in the sixties and seventies, (fn. 39) but in 1572 there was said to have been only one sermon in three years, (fn. 40) and in 1576 the curate was unlicensed and there were no sermons. (fn. 41) There was no minister either in 1650 (fn. 42) or in 1661-2. (fn. 43) Jasper Selwyn (d. 1787), who was perpetual curate for c. 40 years and also lay rector resided and served and also provided an additional curate. (fn. 44) Two 19th-century incumbents, Anthony Ely, 1834-83, and F. B. Teesdale, 1884-1918, spanned an unusually long period, each living on the estate that he had acquired in the parish. (fn. 45) There has been no resident incumbent since 1918.

The church of ST. ANDREW, so called from the 11th century, (fn. 46) comprising chancel with north vestry, nave, north aisle, west tower, and south porch, is built of Cotswold stone, partly ashlar, and has a Cotswold stone roof. No part of the surviving fabric is visibly older than the 14th century. To that period belong the inner south doorway and a restored window of two lights with quatrefoil tracery in the south wall of the nave. From the 15th century or early 16th there survive the south porch with a moulded outer doorway, narrow cusped side windows, stone benching, and a stoup; the lower doorway to a rood-loft stair; the two-light window in the chancel and the priest's door with the letters PB for the priory of Bruton in the spandrels; and the three-stage embattled west tower, which has diagonal buttresses to the full height of the two lower stages, large gargoyles, and a turreted external stair-vice on the north. (fn. 47)

In the early 18th century the church had no aisle. (fn. 48) In 1729 a faculty was granted for rearranging the pews and providing a west gallery for the singers. (fn. 49) The north aisle was added in 1842 (fn. 50) and opens to the nave by a Decorated arcade of three bays. The tower was restored in 1844. (fn. 51) A further restoration in 1884-5 under Sir Arthur Blomfield included building a new chancel arch, adding the north vestry which serves also as an organ-chamber, and reconstructing the east end of the chancel with a sedile and piscina under a window in the south wall. (fn. 52)

The carved oak pulpit is of the earlier 17th century. The mural monuments to members of the Lloyd family include one to Rebecca (d. 1626), wife of Thomas Lloyd (d. 1658) and daughter of Thomas Hinson, with a diminutive marble figure of a lady kneeling. (fn. 53) In the base of the tower is a medieval stone coffin-lid carved with a floriated cross. Ancient armorial glass recorded in the 18th century (fn. 54) was not to be seen in 1968. The octagonal font is of the 19th century. The church had an organ in 1856 (fn. 55) which was later replaced with one by Wordsworth & Maskell of Leeds. There were four bells c. 1703, (fn. 56) presumably the surviving blank bell of 1634 and the three recast or replaced by Abraham Rudhall in 1722. (fn. 57) Two more bells were added in 1888 (fn. 58) and Rudhall's tenor bell was recast in 1924. (fn. 59) The plate includes a chalice and paten-cover of 1597. (fn. 60) The parish registers begin in 1538, but the earliest pages have been damaged and there are considerable gaps in the 17th century. (fn. 61)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 170v.
  • 2. Bruton Cartulary (Som. Rec. Soc. viii), p. 82; cf. Cal. Pat. 1385-9, 374; but Cal. Doc. France, p. 167, refers to the priest's land.
  • 3. Bruton Cartulary, p. 79.
  • 4. Ibid. p. 97; Cal. Pat 1370-7, 126.
  • 5. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Wakefield, f. 14; cf. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3137 m. 44.
  • 6. See p. 293.
  • 7. Cal. Pat. 1553-4, 132-3.
  • 8. G.D.R. vol. 40, f. 12.
  • 9. B.M. Harl. MS. 594, f. 227.
  • 10. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi; G.D.R. Whitminster terrier, 1785.
  • 11. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 12. Ex inf. Diocesan Registrar.
  • 13. See p. 292; ex inf. Capt. Bengough; Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1967-8), 20.
  • 14. Ex inf. the vicar, the Revd. A. B. Allen.
  • 15. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 16. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. C. 3, f. 219.
  • 17. G.D.R. Whitminster terriers, 1785, 1807; C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty (1845), p. cclxxxvi.
  • 18. 16th Rep. Com. Char. 66-67; G.D.R. Whitminster terrier, 1785.
  • 19. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 40.
  • 20. Cf. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi.
  • 21. Rudder, Glos. 814.
  • 22. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 28.
  • 23. H.O. 129/337/1/8/11; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 24. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Wakefield, f. 14
  • 25. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi.
  • 26. G.D.R. vol. 40, f. 12.
  • 27. G.D.R. Whitminster terrier, 1705.
  • 28. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi.
  • 29. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 211.
  • 30. G.D.R. Wheatenhurst tithe award; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879), 782.
  • 31. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885 and later edns.); the house mentioned in 1883 as in the populous part of the parish and near the school in Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 296, and the residence referred to in Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 618; (1889), 938, was evidently not Highfield House.
  • 32. Reg. Mon. Winch. i. 229.
  • 33. Reg Bransford, 276, 337; Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii. 231; Trans. B.G.A.S. lxii. 96.
  • 34. Hockaday Abs. xxii, 1498 visit. f. 30; xxv, 1532 subsidy, f. 16; ccxcii, 1523.
  • 35. Ibid. cix, Awre 1517.
  • 36. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Ghinnucci, f. 64.
  • 37. Hockaday Abs. xxv, 1532 subsidy, f. 16.
  • 38. Ibid. cccxcvi.
  • 39. Bodl. MS. Rawl. C.790, f. 8; Hockaday Abs. xliv, 1572 visit. f. 14; xlix, state of clergy 1584, f. 5.
  • 40. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi.
  • 41. G.D.R. vol. 40, f. 12.
  • 42. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 43. Hockaday Abs. lxviii, 1661 visit. f. 41; 1662 visit. f. 5.
  • 44. See p. 293; G.D.R. vols. 319-21; Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi.
  • 45. See p. 292; G.D.R. Wheatenhurst tithe award; Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879 and later edns.).
  • 46. Bruton Cartulary (Som. Rec. Soc. viii), p. 82.
  • 47. The church before 19th-century restoration is illustrated in Glos. R.O., proof plates for Bigland, Glos.
  • 48. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 161.
  • 49. Hockaday Abs. cccxcvi; cf. Bigland, Glos. iii. no. 296.
  • 50. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 296.
  • 51. Date on bldg.
  • 52. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 938.
  • 53. Cf. Roper, Glos. Effigies, 343-5; Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 296.
  • 54. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 296; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 161.
  • 55. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 386.
  • 56. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 161.
  • 57. Glos. Ch. Bells, 70.
  • 58. Inscr. in tower.
  • 59. Glos. Colln. 28533, p. 73.
  • 60. Glos. Ch. Plate, 225.
  • 61. Cf. B. & G. Par. Recs. 289. The registers were at Whitminster House in 1968.