Minchinhampton: Churches

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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'Minchinhampton: Churches', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 201-204. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp201-204 [accessed 19 April 2024]


The church at Minchinhampton had presumably been founded by 1086 when a priest was recorded there. (fn. 1) The living, to which the church at Rodborough was annexed as a chapel until 1841, (fn. 2) was a rectory in 1260 (fn. 3) and has remained one.

Caen Abbey owned the advowson in 1282 (fn. 4) and presumably had done since acquiring the manor. From 1349, however, the advowson was exercised by the Crown on account of the war with France and it remained in the king's hands until 1411 or later. (fn. 5) It was perhaps included in the reversionary grant to the Phillipses in 1414, for in 1444 and 1445 it was exercised by the earl of Suffolk. (fn. 6) It passed with the manor to Syon Abbey which in 1539 granted the next turn to a syndicate, of which the surviving member granted his right to Sir Edmund Peckham in 1548. (fn. 7) The advowson was included in Henry VIII's grant to Andrew, Lord Windsor, in 1542, (fn. 8) and in 1559 a rector was presented by William Fifield and William Summerfield by virtue of a grant from William, Lord Windsor. The advowson was exercised in 1576 by Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, and in 1585 by John Adeane (fn. 9) who was then farming the rectory. The Crown presented in 1611 because of the minority of Thomas, Lord Windsor, (fn. 10) and again presented in 1622, (fn. 11) although in 1618 Michael Halliday of Rodborough presented on a grant from Thomas. From 1666 the advowson was exercised by the Sheppards, except that in 1769 Thomas Griffin of Stroud and Edmund Clutterbuck of Hyde, and in 1806 Joseph Pitt of Cirencester, presented for one turn. (fn. 12) Philip Sheppard alienated the advowson to Richard Harris in 1812 but in 1836 it was bought back by David Ricardo, (fn. 13) no vacancy having occurred in the interval. It was retained by the Ricardos until c. 1959 when the executors of H. G. Ricardo conveyed it to the bishop, (fn. 14) the patron in 1973.

The rector received all the tithes of Minchinhampton and Rodborough. In 1825 Minchinhampton parish contracted to lease its share of the tithes from the rector at £800 a year during his lifetime, (fn. 15) and in the following year Rodborough parish made a similar agreement at £210; (fn. 16) in 1839 the tithes of Minchinhampton were commuted at £976 and those of Rodborough at £255. (fn. 17) In 1584 the rector's glebe included 73 a. of open-field land, 3 tenements, and c. 18 a. in closes in or near the town, and other property in Rodborough. (fn. 18) His property in the town was subsequently increased in value by new building and in 1704 comprised 40 tenements, (fn. 19) most of which were sold off c. 1800 to redeem the land-tax. (fn. 20) The rectory was valued at £21 6s. 8d. in 1291 (fn. 21) and at £41 9s. 10d. in 1535. (fn. 22) Its value had risen to £100 by 1651, (fn. 23) to c. £200 by 1728, and to c. £300 by 1769. (fn. 24) It was worth £500 by 1815 (fn. 25) and £520 in 1856, (fn. 26) parts of the tithe corn-rent awarded in 1839 having been assigned to new daughter churches. (fn. 27)

In 1584 the rectory house comprised hall, parlour, buttery, pantry, chambers, kitchen, and outbuildings. (fn. 28) It was rebuilt on a different site, east of Butt Street, c. 1721 by the incumbent Philip Sheppard, (fn. 29) and it was extensively remodelled by E. C. Oldfield, rector from 1865. (fn. 30) The house was sold c. 1915 and the Coigne, a 19th-century house on the corner of Butt Street and Friday Street, was acquired. (fn. 31) The old rectory was divided into flats c. 1945. (fn. 32)

Roger de Salenges became rector in 1260 when he was dispensed to hold the living in plurality with Buxton (Norf.); (fn. 33) he had leave of absence for a year's study in 1269. (fn. 34) William of Prestbury, instituted in 1318, (fn. 35) had licence for a year's study in that year and again in 1323. (fn. 36) William died in the plague year of 1349 which also probably claimed the two rectors presented within the next few months. (fn. 37) John de Middleton, the third rector to be presented in 1349, (fn. 38) held the living until his death in 1360 when he was acting as keeper of the king's victuals at Calais. (fn. 39) Between 1376 and 1411 the living changed hands fairly often, usually by exchange; the rectors of that period included, from 1392 to 1407, Richard Alkeryngton, a doctor of theology. (fn. 40) William Gyan, instituted in 1445, (fn. 41) also held the chapel of Tockington in 1460 when he was dispensed to acquire another living in addition. (fn. 42)

Gilbert Bourne, later bishop of Bath and Wells, held the living in 1551, when it was served by a curate whose knowledge of scripture was found generally satisfactory. (fn. 43) Bourne was succeeded in 1555 by James Brooks, bishop of Gloucester. (fn. 44) Thomas Taylor was rector from 1559 (fn. 45) until 1576 when for various failings he was deprived of Minchinhampton and his other rectory of North Cerney. (fn. 46) His successor Thomas Freeman, also rector of Woodchester, held the living until his death in 1585 when he was succeeded by George Birch, also rector of Uley. (fn. 47) In 1611 Henry Fowler compounded for the first fruits of the rectory (fn. 48) but a few weeks later Anthony Lapthorne was presented, (fn. 49) and Lapthorne, a man of Puritan views, who was said to have once admonished James I for swearing during a game of bowls and rebuked Archbishop Abbot for standing by, (fn. 50) secured institution in 1613. In 1618, however, Fowler, who claimed that Lapthorne had been deprived by High Commission, gained institution (fn. 51) but Lapthorne was again presented in 1622. (fn. 52) Fowler was in possession in 1636 (fn. 53) and until he died in 1643, a few months after being violently assaulted by a troop of parliamentary soldiers. (fn. 54) William Dolman signed the Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony as incumbent of Minchinhampton in 1648, (fn. 55) and died the following year. (fn. 56) His successor Samuel Hieron, described as a constant preacher, held the living until the Restoration. (fn. 57) He was succeeded then by Thomas Warmstry, a prebendary of Gloucester cathedral, (fn. 58) who had been presented to the living in 1643 but had been denied admittance. (fn. 59)

Philip Sheppard, son of the lord of the manor, (fn. 60) was instituted in 1720 and held the living (with Avening from 1728) until his death in 1768. His successor, Robert Heaton, was also rector of Avening and was succeeded in 1774 by John White, D.D., (fn. 61) also rector of Brimpsfield. (fn. 62) William Cockin, rector from 1806 (fn. 63) until his death in 1841, (fn. 64) also held Cherington (fn. 65) but served Minchinhampton where he resided at the Lammas. (fn. 66) The end of his incumbency saw the dismemberment of the benefice by the creation of ecclesiastical districts for the new churches of Amberley and Brimscombe and for the ancient church at Rodborough. (fn. 67) An iron mission chapel was built at Box before 1897 (fn. 68) and was replaced in 1953 by a small stone chapel designed by Peter Falconer. (fn. 69)

A chantry, dedicated to the Virgin, was founded at Minchinhampton in 1338 by the rector William of Prestbury who endowed it with 2 messuages, a watermill (the later St. Mary's Mill), 2½ yardlands, and 20s. rent; (fn. 70) an estate called Forwood which was later among its possessions seems to have been acquired as an additional endowment from John Craft c. 1400. (fn. 71) The priests were presented by the rectors of Minchinhampton and two of the earliest were local men, Thomas of Chalford instituted in 1341 and Peter of Avening instituted in 1348. (fn. 72) The priest was required to assist with divine service on holidays which is presumably the reason why the last incumbent Richard Gravener (fn. 73) was described as a stipendiary in 1540. (fn. 74) The lands of the chantry, valued at £8 17s. 3½d., (fn. 75) were granted by the Crown to John Thynne and Laurence Hyde in 1548. (fn. 76) A church house was recorded at Minchinhampton from 1556, (fn. 77) and in 1635 it was held on lease from the manor. (fn. 78)

The ancient parish church of HOLY TRINITY (fn. 79) is cruciform on plan, comprising chancel, central tower, transepts, and aisled and clerestoried nave. Only the tower and transepts survive from the medieval church, the remainder having been rebuilt in 1842. The survival until the rebuilding of 12thcentury features in both chancel and north arcade suggest that at that period a cruciform church existed or was intended. The tower and transepts were rebuilt during the first half of the 14th century, and in the same century the south aisle was added or rebuilt and provided with a porch and the chancel received at least one new window. A clerestory and roof of low pitch were placed above the nave, probably in the 15th century, and there were some late medieval alterations to the windows of nave and chancel. (fn. 80)

The tower carries a truncated spire finished with battlements and finials; the spire had taken that form by the early 18th century when the top was said to have been removed because of its instability. (fn. 81) The south transept, described by William Burges in 1869 as 'one of the most perfect and curious specimens of the architecture of the middle of the 14th century', (fn. 82) is of six narrow bays, marked externally by tall windows separated by buttresses. Inside the pitched roof of stone slabs is supported on open stone trusses and the south wall has a large window with a rose design forming its upper section. (fn. 83) The name Ansley's chapel was being applied to the transept by 1578 (fn. 84) and there seems little reason to doubt the tradition that it was built by John of Ansley, who held Delameres manor in the 1330s, or that the two effigies lying in recesses beneath the south window represent John and his wife Lucy. (fn. 85) The north transept is of similar date and was possibly built to house the chantry founded in 1338, (fn. 86) although in 1459 and 1548 that was described as being situated in the churchyard; (fn. 87) at the restoration of the church the base of an altar was discovered against the east wall of the transept and, in the wall, two niches which had contained figures, (fn. 88) possibly among the 'sundry superstitious things tending to the maintenance of idolatry' removed from the church in 1575. (fn. 89) In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries a large number of galleries and proprietary seats were put up in the church. (fn. 90)

The rebuilding of the chancel, nave, and aisles, begun in 1842 and completed by the following year, (fn. 91) was carried out to the designs of Thomas Foster of Bristol. (fn. 92) David Ricardo agreed to provide £2,000 and the rector Charles Whateley £500, on condition that the remaining £1,000 needed could be raised by other subscribers. (fn. 93) Alterations and refitting of the chancel carried out under the direction of William Burges in 1869 included the building of a new and larger east window as a memorial to Mary, wife of William Playne of Longfords, (fn. 94) and some restoration work was carried out in 1884. (fn. 95)

The church once had other medieval effigies besides the two in the south transept mentioned above; there is a tomb recess in the north wall of the north transept and there was formerly another on the north side of the chancel. (fn. 96) Three medieval brasses survive, although moved from their original settings: one of c. 1500 to a man and his wife has lost its inscription; (fn. 97) another is to Edward Halliday (d. 1519) of Rodborough and his wife Margery and includes Edward's cloth-mark; (fn. 98) and a third depicts John Hampton (d. c. 1461) and his wife Ellen in shrouds, their daughter Alice, and other children. (fn. 99) Later monuments include the inscription plate to the astronomer James Bradley, which was stolen from his tomb in the churchyard in the early 19th century but later recovered. (fn. 100) The plain octagonal font of the 14th century was apparently removed from the church at the rebuilding but was restored to its original use after the First World War as a memorial to an officer killed in action. (fn. 101) Stained glass memorial windows by Herbert Bryans, most of them to members of the Playne and Ricardo families, were inserted in the aisles in the period 1899-1922, and the south window of the south transept was filled with glass by Hardman in 1873. (fn. 102)

Five new bells were cast for the church by Roger Purdue in 1633 or 1634 and the tenor was recast by Abraham Rudhall c. 1686. (fn. 103) At least three were recast by Rudhall in 1719, and of the three others making up the ring of six, one was recast by John Rudhall in 1797, another by the same founder in 1825, and a third by T. Mears in 1842. (fn. 104) Also hung in the church is an ancient bell which bears the date 1515 and the name of Alice Hampton. It is said to have originally hung in one of the market-houses, which was demolished in 1806 when the bell was installed at Longfords House as part of a turret clock; (fn. 105) it was given to the church by the Playnes c. 1920. (fn. 106) The plate includes two silver chalices of 1681, and three alms-dishes and a tankard flagon of 1735. (fn. 107) The registers survive from 1558. (fn. 108) The churchyard has some carved tombs of the 18th century and early-19th-century tombs with plates engraved by Charles Iles of Minchinhampton. (fn. 109)

The church of HOLY TRINITY at Amberley was built in 1836 by David Ricardo, who also provided a glebe house adjoining. (fn. 110) In 1840 the church was assigned an ecclesiastical district (fn. 111) and the living became a perpetual curacy in Ricardo's gift; (fn. 112) it was designated a rectory from 1866. (fn. 113) The income, mostly supplied by tithe corn-rents diverted from the parish church, (fn. 114) was £400 in 1870 and there were 20 a. of glebe. The advowson was bought from the Ricardos in 1866 by J. G. Frith (fn. 115) and it descended with his Highlands estate; in the late 1930s it passed from R. E. White to the Diocesan Board of Patronage, (fn. 116) the patrons in 1973. The church, a single cell building in the Early English style, designed by Stokes of Cheltenham, was built with schoolrooms in the basement storey. (fn. 117) The plain, unadorned nature of the building was in conformity with the founder's wishes. (fn. 118)

The church of HOLY TRINITY at Brimscombe was begun in 1839 and consecrated the following year (fn. 119) when it was assigned an ecclesiastical district. (fn. 120) The cost of the building was borne largely by David Ricardo (fn. 121) and the income of the benefice was supplied by the tithe corn-rents from that part of the parish. (fn. 122) The benefice, a perpetual curacy later called a vicarage, was worth £276 in 1856 when there were 17 a. of glebe and a glebe house built by the incumbent James Legge in 1843. (fn. 123) The advowson was assigned to David Ricardo (fn. 124) in whose family it remained until c. 1895 when it was acquired by P. J. Evans. By 1914 it had passed to the Sellwood trustees (fn. 125) and it was acquired before 1963 by the London College of Divinity trustees, (fn. 126) the patrons in 1973. The church, in Romanesque style, comprises chancel, nave, and tower; Ricardo's opposition to the Tractarian movement is again evident in the alignment of the building, which has its chancel at the west end. (fn. 127) Alterations carried out in 1881 included the addition of an organ-chamber. (fn. 128) A small stone mission room was built at Hyde in the ecclesiastical parish in 1902 (fn. 129) and remained in regular use in 1973.


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 166v.
  • 2. See p. 231.
  • 3. Cal. Papal Regs. i. 374.
  • 4. Reg. Giffard, 141.
  • 5. Reg. Bransford, p. 414; Cal. Pat. 1358-61, 461; 1388- 1392, 303; Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Peverell, f. 33 and v.
  • 6. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Carpenter, i, ff. 4 and v., 20v.
  • 7. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiii.
  • 8. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 167.
  • 9. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiii.
  • 10. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1611-18, 29.
  • 11. Ibid. 1619-23, 442.
  • 12. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 13. Glos. R.O., D 1812, Ricardo fam., deed 1836.
  • 14. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1957-8), 37; (1959-60), 37.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/3.
  • 16. Ibid. p 272A/VE 2/3.
  • 17. G.D.R., T 1/120.
  • 18. G.D.R., V 5/205T 1.
  • 19. Ibid. 5.
  • 20. Ibid. 7.
  • 21. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 221.
  • 22. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 496.
  • 23. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 92.
  • 24. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 25. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 34.
  • 26. Ibid. 384, f. 144.
  • 27. See below.
  • 28. G.D.R., V 5/205T 1.
  • 29. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv, 1720.
  • 30. Playne, Minch. and Avening, 43-4; G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 144.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., D 2299/1222-3.
  • 32. Ex inf. the owner, Mrs. E. A. Stuart.
  • 33. Cal. Papal Regs. i. 374.
  • 34. Reg. Giffard, 20.
  • 35. Reg. Cobham, 230.
  • 36. Ibid. 253, 260.
  • 37. Reg. Bransford, p. 414; Cal. Pat. 1348-50, 287, 307.
  • 38. Cal. Pat. 1348-50, 367.
  • 39. Cal. Fine R. 1356-68, 138, 145-6.
  • 40. Reg. Wakefeld, p. 4; Cal. Pat. 1377-81, 69; 1388-92, 303; 1391-6, 241; 1405-8, 292; 1408-13, 83, 284.
  • 41. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Carpenter, i, f. 20v.
  • 42. Cal. Papal Regs. xi. 568.
  • 43. E.H.R. xix. 115; cf. Trans. B.G.A.S. lx. 107.
  • 44. Cal. Pat. 1554-5, 284.
  • 45. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiii.
  • 46. Trans. B.G.A.S. lix. 151-3.
  • 47. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiii.
  • 48. Ibid. cclxxxiv.
  • 49. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1611-18, 29.
  • 50. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, f. 166 and v.; for Lapthorne's views, cf. also Cal. S.P. Dom. 1634-5, 263.
  • 51. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 52. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1619-23, 442.
  • 53. Ibid. 1635-6, 404.
  • 54. Visit. Glos. 1682-3, 62; J. Walker, Sufferings of the Clergy (1714), 242-3.
  • 55. Glos. N. & Q. i. 330.
  • 56. Playne, Minch. and Avening, 77.
  • 57. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 255-6; Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 92.
  • 58. Hockaday Abs. lxviii, 1661 visit, f. 14; cclxxxiv, 1662.
  • 59. Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 178.
  • 60. Visit. Glos. 1682-3, 167-8.
  • 61. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 62. Ibid. cxxxiii.
  • 63. Ibid. cclxxxiv.
  • 64. Inscr. in ch.
  • 65. Hockaday Abs. cli, 1806.
  • 66. Ibid. cclxxxiv; cf. Playne, Minch. and Avening, 80.
  • 67. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv, 1840; cf. H.O. 129/338/6/1/2. For the churches at Amberley and Brimscombe, see below.
  • 68. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1897), 239.
  • 69. Verey, Glos. i. 131.
  • 70. Cal. Pat. 1338-40, 32.
  • 71. See p. 192.
  • 72. Reg. Bransford, pp. 369, 160; Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Carpenter, i, f. 149v.
  • 73. Trans. B.G.A.S. viii. 275.
  • 74. Hockaday Abs. xxviii, 1540 visit. f. 44.
  • 75. Trans. B.G.A.S. viii. 275.
  • 76. Cal. Pat. 1548-9, 54.
  • 77. Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 2/1.
  • 78. Ibid. photocopy 959, f. 7.
  • 79. Cal. Pat. 1338-40, 32.
  • 80. The church before rebuilding is described in Glos. Ch. Notes, 39-40, and Glos. R.O., P 217/CL 1, pp. 20-5, and views of it appear in Atkyns, Glos. plate at pp. 452-3; Bigland, Glos. ii, facing p. 4; Smith, Eccl. Edifices; H. E. Relton, Sketches of Churches (1843).
  • 81. Atkyns, Glos. 453 and plate at pp. 452-3; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 202. The top of the spire was possibly removed in 1560 when the churchwardens made payments for an examination of the steeple and for letting down stones from it: Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 2/1. At the time of the rebuilding of the church, however, an architect or builder who examined the supports of the tower came to the conclusion that it had never carried a higher spire, the original builders stopping at that height because of instability: ibid. P 217/CL 1, pp. 23-4.
  • 82. Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 4/5.
  • 83. See plate facing p. 145.
  • 84. Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 2/1.
  • 85. Atkyns, Glos. 453; for Ansley, cf. S.C. 2/175/85; Reg. Bransford, p. 59; and for the effigies, Roper, Glos. Effigies, 488-90. Bigland, Glos. ii. 4, identifies the effigies as John (recte Robert) de la Mare (d. 1382) and his wife Maud and credits them with the building of the transept.
  • 86. See above.
  • 87. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Carpenter, i, f. 149v.; Trans. B.G.A.S. viii. 275.
  • 88. Glos. R.O., P 217/CL 1, pp. 21-2.
  • 89. Ibid. CW 2/1.
  • 90. Ibid. 1-2.
  • 91. Ibid. CL 1, pp. 18, 45.
  • 92. Verey, Glos. i. 316.
  • 93. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/3.
  • 94. Ibid. CW 4/5; Playne, Minch. and Avening, 56-7.
  • 95. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1906), 245.
  • 96. Glos. Ch. Notes, 40.
  • 97. C. T. Davis, Monumental Brasses of Glos. (1899), 103-4.
  • 98. Ibid. 122-4; cf. Hockaday Abs. cccxxiv, 1519.
  • 99. Davis, Monumental Brasses, 110-13; for the Hamptons, see above, p. 192. The brass gives the year of John's death as MCCCCCLVI, probably a mistake for MCCCCLXI rather than the error suggested in Trans. B.G.A.S. liv. 340 n.
  • 100. Trans. B.G.A.S. v. 18.
  • 101. Ibid. xlix. 137.
  • 102. Verey, Glos. i. 317.
  • 103. Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 2/1.
  • 104. Glos. Ch. Bells, 56.
  • 105. Playne, Minch. and Avening, 70.
  • 106. Antiq. Jnl. July 1926, 294.
  • 107. Glos. Ch. Plate, 148.
  • 108. B. & G. Par. Recs. 192.
  • 109. Cf. Gell and Bradshaw, Glos. Dir. (1820), 212.
  • 110. Smith, Eccl. Edifices.
  • 111. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 112. Ibid. ci.
  • 113. Lond. Gaz. 20 Feb. 1866, p. 977.
  • 114. H.O. 129/338/6/1/2.
  • 115. Glos. R.O., D 1253, Frith fam., deeds of Minch. and Amberley 1836-1910.
  • 116. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1879 and later edns.), s.v. Amberley; see above, p. 188.
  • 117. Glouc. Jnl. 10 Sept. 1836.
  • 118. Playne, Minch. Common, 34.
  • 119. Hockaday Abs. cxxxiii.
  • 120. Ibid. cclxxxiv.
  • 121. Glouc. Jnl. 11 Apr. 1840.
  • 122. Glos. R.O., D 1159, terrier to tithe map.
  • 123. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 234.
  • 124. Hockaday Abs. cxxxiii.
  • 125. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 126. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1963-4), 32.
  • 127. Ex inf. Mr. Hammond.
  • 128. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1906), 49.
  • 129. Inscr. on bldg.