A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Rodborough was originally part of the ecclesiastical parish of Minchinhampton. A church had been built by 1384, (fn. 1) but it was not apparently consecrated or licensed for sacraments until the 1550s, (fn. 2) and it remained a chapel of ease to Minchinhampton (fn. 3) until 1841 when a new ecclesiastical parish and rectory were created. A payment of 20s., reduced to 6s. 8d. in the 16th century, was made by Rodborough to the Minchinhampton churchwardens in acknowledgement of the dependence, (fn. 4) and in 1749 the payment was said to be for the right of using the north aisle of Minchinhampton church, known as Rodborough's Aisle. (fn. 5) Rodborough church had, however, its own ancient endowment of lands, which from the beginning of the 17th century was used to support lecturers who shared the duties of the cure with the curates appointed by the rector of Minchinhampton.
In the early 18th century the ancient endowment was said to comprise land in King's Stanley given by Hugh Notling in 1398 for the upkeep of divine service in Rodborough church and lands in Bisley given for the same purpose by Edmund of Rodborough in 1432 and Margery Brimscombe in 1434. (fn. 6) About 1540 the lands given by Edmund, which included Ansteads farm, were in dispute between the inhabitants of Rodborough and John Payne: the inhabitants claimed that the profits ought to provide half the income of the minister of Rodborough and a sum for church repairs, while John claimed that they had been given for a chantry which had never been instituted and therefore belonged to him as Edmund's descendant. It was said, however, that John's claim was merely an attempt to cover up considerable arrears that he owed the church in his account as churchwarden. (fn. 7) The confusion over the status of the lands, which was apparently intensified by the use of part of the profits on an annual mass for the donors and on a lamp, (fn. 8) persisted, and the lands were apparently taken by the Crown at the dissolution of the chantries. In 1566, when they were said to comprise Ansteads and Derretts farms in Bisley and two closes in King's Stanley, the Crown's grantees, William Grice and Charles Newcommen, conveyed them to Giles Payne, son of John, (fn. 9) and Giles's nephew Richard was in his turn sued by the inhabitants in 1586. (fn. 10)
At the beginning of the 17th century the question of the church lands was brought into Chancery and a decree of 1604 assigned £5 of the profits to the repair of the church and the remainder (then £35) to a lecturer who was to be nominated by Brasenose College, Oxford, to preach in the church every Sunday. (fn. 11) The lecturer's stipend was shortly afterwards raised to £40. (fn. 12) The lands were valued at £120 in 1750 but being let on too long leases were bringing in an income of only £56. (fn. 13) In 1779 the lecturer William Stalman took action against the surviving trustee, John Coxe of Nether Lypiatt, in an attempt to secure more profitable management, and a new scheme, including a provision for restricting leases to 21 years, was adopted from 1783. (fn. 14) In 1885 the lecturer's income was £225. (fn. 15) In 1898 the endowment of the lectureship was applied to supplement the rector's income, provide a stipend for a curate, and meet other parish expenses; in the 1970s the income of c. £2,000, by then mainly from investments, provided an annuity of £300 for the rector and a grant for his expenses, while a larger sum went on church maintenance. (fn. 16)
The rectory created in 1841 (fn. 17) had an income of £270 in 1856, mostly from tithe corn-rents detached from Minchinhampton rectory. The advowson was assigned to David Ricardo, patron of Minchinhampton; (fn. 18) but it was owned by the incumbent Alfred Norrish in 1885 (fn. 19) and by his successor Edward Lockyer in 1894. (fn. 20) At the amalgamation of the rectory and lectureship it was assigned to the bishop, (fn. 21) who remained patron in 1973.
Thomas Jones, described as parish priest of Rodborough in 1497, (fn. 22) was presumably appointed by the rector of Minchinhampton although he may have been receiving some part of the profits of the endowment. Curates appointed and paid by the rector served the cure in 1540 (fn. 23) and later, and included Richard Rawlins, also curate of Bisley, who in 1563 was said to have omitted sermons and alms for the poor. (fn. 24) In 1576 it was said that there had been no minister for the last 8 years, (fn. 25) but there was again a curate by 1584. (fn. 26) No later reference to a curate has been found until 1662 (fn. 27) and it is possible that in the earlier 17th century the cure was left wholly to the lecturer. (fn. 28) Benjamin Billingsley who served as curate shortly after the Restoration was removed for preaching sedition. (fn. 29) He was presumably the predecessor of Josiah Pleydell who was licensed in 1666 to serve the church and teach school. The same means of supplementing his income was adopted by Richard Bond, licensed in 1685, who taught a charity school at Stroud; (fn. 30) he was later master of St. Loe school in Minchinhampton, as was his son Nathaniel (fn. 31) who was serving Rodborough in 1748. (fn. 32) James Dallaway and Peter Hawker, junior, successive curates in the 1780s and 1790s, (fn. 33) were from prominent local families; Dallaway, who was briefly owner of Rodborough Fort, (fn. 34) was an antiquary and edited Bigland's county history. (fn. 35) Thomas Glascott, licensed in 1819, became rector in 1841 (fn. 36) and served until his death in 1876. (fn. 37)
The lectureship was held by Richard Webb in 1614, (fn. 38) and from before 1636 by James Stanfield, a man of Puritan sympathies (fn. 39) who signed the Gloucestershire Ministers' Testimony in 1648. (fn. 40) Stanfield was succeeded before 1676 by his son James, (fn. 41) who was active in support of the Revolution of 1688 and held the lectureship, together with Woodchester rectory, until his death in 1722. Later lecturers, usually fellows of the patron college, (fn. 42) generally remained in the post for no more than a few years, (fn. 43) but William Lucas, appointed in 1851, held it until 1896, being also vicar of Sopley (Hants.) for much of that period. (fn. 44)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE, (fn. 45) which dates mainly from the 19th century, has chancel with north organ-chamber and south chapel, aisled nave with south porch, and west tower. Its predecessor had in addition to the tower which survives chancel, nave with north aisle and south transept and porch. The body of the old church apparently dated largely from a rebuilding in the late 15th or early 16th century, (fn. 46) and the tower was built in the second quarter of the 16th century, largely at the cost of the Halliday family of clothiers. (fn. 47) Proprietary galleries were inserted in the 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 48) The rebuilding of the body of the church was carried out in 1842-3 to the designs of Thomas Foster of Bristol; the new building included galleries. (fn. 49) In 1895 the chancel was rebuilt and the north aisle extended eastwards to provide an organ-chamber. (fn. 50) The east end of the south aisle was fitted up as a chapel in 1939. (fn. 51)
The interior fittings include a carved wooden pulpit given by Jasper Estcourt of Lightpill in 1624. (fn. 52) The church had four bells, three of which were taken away in the Civil War; (fn. 53) the surviving one is undated. The plate includes a chalice acquired in 1624, a paten purchased by subscription in 1681, and a flagon given in 1844. (fn. 54) The registers survive from 1692 and include burials and marriages from that date. (fn. 55)