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 Avening, which retains Norman features, (fn. 1) was recorded from 1105. (fn. 2) The living was a rectory in 1305 (fn. 3) and has remained one. (fn. 4) The parish was apparently attached in some way to the parish of Horsley before 1105 when the independence of each was confirmed. (fn. 5) The church was granted to Tewkesbury Abbey by Robert Fitz Hamon but the grant was disputed by Caen Abbey, owner of the manor, and the dispute was settled in favour of the latter c. 1167, when the nuns paid 20 marks to Tewkesbury for a withdrawal of its claim. (fn. 6)
The advowson subsequently descended with the manor, often being in the hands of the Crown during the Hundred Years War. (fn. 7) The right of presentation was granted out by the patron on a few occasions during the 17th century and often during the 18th. In 1779 Nathaniel Thornbury of London presented a kinsman to the living, (fn. 8) and in 1806 Thomas Brooke purchased the advowson outright and subsequently presented himself. The practice became established during the 19th century when three other patrons presented themselves to the living (fn. 9) until in 1902 E. W. Edwards, then rector, conveyed the advowson to the dean and chapter of Gloucester, (fn. 10) the patrons in 1972. (fn. 11)
The living was worth £16 13s. 4d. yearly in 1291 (fn. 12) and was augmented in the early 14th century by a bequest of a messuage and ½ yardland, confirmed to the rector in 1340. (fn. 13) The rectory had a yearly value of £22 0s. 10d. in 1535 (fn. 14) and included 60 a. of glebe c. 1584. (fn. 15) The rectory was worth £110 in 1650 (fn. 16) and c. £180 in the early 18th century. (fn. 17) The annual value had increased to £200 by 1750, (fn. 18) and in 1838, when the tithes were commuted for a corn-rent charge of £781, 97 a. of glebe were recorded. (fn. 19) In 1856 the rectory was worth £811 a year (fn. 20) but in 1898 the rector assigned £100 of the tithe rent-charge to support Nailsworth chapel. (fn. 21) The rectory, a twostorey house with attic dormers, was built c. 1685 (fn. 22) but probably incorporates an earlier house. An east block was added to the rear in the early 19th century when the old house was remodelled and most of the windows on the main front were blocked.
A small bequest of lands, worth 6s. 8d. yearly, comprising a messuage used as a shop, was given for an obit in the church of Avening. In 1549 the poor received 2s. 8d. from the value of the lands. (fn. 23) A church house was recorded in 1491. A chapel was recorded at Aston in the detached part of the parish in 1491 (fn. 24) but no other record of it has been found.
The rector of Avening during much of the later 13th century was William de Montfort, dean of St. Paul's and an extensive pluralist. (fn. 25) He was succeeded in 1294 by Peter Ducet, a royal household servant, (fn. 26) who was granted licence to study abroad in 1305. (fn. 27) Another royal servant, Richard of Cambridge, was presented to the living in 1315 (fn. 28) and William of Ledbury, rector from 1325 until 1328, was also a Crown official, who went abroad with the bishop of Winchester's embassy in 1325. (fn. 29) Philip Bonvalet, a Frenchman, was instituted to the living in 1332 and remained rector until his death in 1372, (fn. 30) acting for much of the time as proctor to the abbess of Caen in England. (fn. 31) Edward Warham, rector in 1498, was assisted by a chaplain. (fn. 32) Thomas Trowell, rector in 1532 and until 1541, (fn. 33) was suspected of opposition to the Henrician reformation along with his curate John Giles, (fn. 34) an ex-religious. Giles continued to serve the cure during the short incumbency of Stephen Seager (alias Whalley), (fn. 35) the former abbot of Hailes, who was studying at university. (fn. 36) Seager was succeeded by another non-resident rector, Giles Cox (d. 1558), who had difficulty in getting his tithes from the parishioners in 1552. (fn. 37) William Inman, rector from 1559 until 1577, (fn. 38) was said to be a reasonably good preacher although he was not preaching the statutory sermons in 1576. (fn. 39) He was succeeded by William Bushey, rector until 1609, who was neither a graduate nor a preacher. (fn. 40) Bushey's successor William Hall was rector until 1628 when Charles Deane was instituted. (fn. 41) Deane was ejected in 1646 (fn. 42) and replaced by another William Hall, said to have been presented in 1641. In 1648 some inhabitants of Avening supported the New Engagement and the same year Hall was a signatory of the Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony. Hall conformed after the Restoration and remained at Avening until his death in 1683. (fn. 43)
Hall's successor as rector was Robert Frampton, bishop of Gloucester, (fn. 44) who held the living briefly before resigning and being replaced in 1685 by George Bull. Bull tried to arrest the spread of nonconformity in the parish and to suppress abuses connected with the annual feast, called Pig's Face Day, associated with the foundation of the church. (fn. 45) He resigned on promotion to the bishopric of St. Davids in 1705 (fn. 46) and was succeeded by John Swynfen, who held Avening in plurality with the rectory of Beverstone from 1711. Swynfen was succeeded in 1728 by Philip Sheppard, brother of the lord of the manor, who remained as rector until 1768 holding the living in plurality with Minchinhampton. (fn. 47) Nathaniel Thornbury, rector from 1779 until 1816, when he died in his church, (fn. 48) was succeeded by Thomas Brooke, who held Avening in plurality with Horton, where he resided. (fn. 49) Brooke was succeeded in 1830 by Philip Bliss, who held the living until Brooke's son T. R. Brooke was old enough to enter it in 1836. (fn. 50) T. R. Brooke, who held the living until 1857, was non-resident for much of his incumbency. (fn. 51)
The church of the HOLY CROSS (fn. 52) is built of ashlar and coursed rubble and has a chancel of two bays with south vestry, central tower with transepts, and nave with north aisle and porch. (fn. 53) Parts of the nave and chancel arch are probably the oldest sections of the fabric and may date from the late 11th century. The tower, west bay of the chancel, north aisle, and north doorway were all additions of the mid or late 12th century, and there is some evidence that then or early in the 13th century a small cell or chapel existed to the north of the tower, perhaps continuing the line of the aisle. Early in the 14th century the chancel was enlarged by the addition of a north chapel or vestry and by adding one bay on the east. At about the same time transepts were added to the tower, and the line of the aisle continued by a porch. New windows were also put into the nave and chancel. More windows were added in the 15th century, one on the north side of the chancel, reusing some earlier tracery, perhaps from the chapel there which had by then been demolished, and another on the south side of the nave. The latter is flanked by two large contemporary buttresses, one of which blocks the original south doorway which was replaced by a new doorway in the west wall. Other work of the period includes the rebuilding of the upper stages of the tower and the east wall of the south transept. The north doorway received a new stone frame early in the 16th century.
The west wall was rebuilt in the 18th century and a western gallery approached by a doorway on the south was put into the nave. The porch was heightened to create access to another gallery over the north aisle, possibly inserted in 1829 to increase the free seating in the church. (fn. 54) Restoration work carried out under R. H. Carpenter and B. Ingelow c. 1890 included the removal of the galleries, the addition of a south vestry, and the refurbishing of the tracery of the east window. (fn. 55) In 1902 part of the tower collapsed causing the east end of the nave roof and part of the north aisle to be destroyed. Repairs, incorporating much of the original fabric, were carried out under the supervision of John Micklethwaite. (fn. 56)
Fragments of Norman sculpture inserted in the north wall of the nave are said to come from a font (fn. 57) and there are fragments of similar origin in the north aisle. The north transept contains a wall monument to Henry Bridges (d. 1615), attributed to Samuel Baldwin of Stroud, and the south transept, which housed a small museum in 1972, has some 17th-century monuments to the Driver family. (fn. 58) A communion table dated 1657 stands by the south altar in the nave. The six bells include three cast in 1628 and one cast by Abel Rudhall in 1756. (fn. 59) The plate includes chalices of 1562 and 1569 and a flagon of 1626. (fn. 60) The registers, which begin in 1557, are continuous. (fn. 61)