Miserden: Church

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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'Miserden: Church', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 54-55. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp54-55 [accessed 25 April 2024]


A priest was recorded at Miserden in 1086 (fn. 1) and architectural evidence shows that the church there is of pre-Conquest origin. (fn. 2) In 1270 Thomas de Suthinton was styled rector of Miserden (fn. 3) and the living has remained a rectory. The living was united with Winstone in 1928 (fn. 4) but the union was dissolved in 1949 when Miserden was united with Edgeworth. (fn. 5)

The first recorded presentation to the benefice was made in 1269 by Ralph Musard, lord of the manor. (fn. 6) The advowson usually remained with the lords of the manor and in 1970 Mrs. H. M. Sinclair, the owner of Miserden, had the right of presentation to the united benefice. (fn. 7) In 1429 the bishop ordered an inquisition when John James was presented to the living by the bishop of Bath and Wells and others. (fn. 8) During the later 16th century, when doubt existed as to ownership of the manor, the Kingston family presented to the living. (fn. 9) Perhaps the Jerninghams, as recusants, would not have been interested in the advowson, but they may have conveyed it to Arthur Guildford who had a claim to it in 1576. (fn. 10) The right of presentation was sometimes exercised by the Crown, (fn. 11) and during the 18th and 19th centuries it appears to have been sometimes granted away for a turn by the lords of Miserden. (fn. 12)

In 1291 the living was valued at £6 13s. 4d. and a pension of 2s. was paid to Tewkesbury Abbey. (fn. 13) The pension was probably connected with the grant of two-thirds of the demesne tithes confirmed to the abbey c. 1130, (fn. 14) but it has not been found recorded later. The tithes were commuted for a corn-rent of £410 in 1838. (fn. 15) In 1705 the rectory had c. 80 a. of glebe land of which 55½ a. were in the open fields and 15 a. at Parsons Hill, (fn. 16) a close in the south-east corner of the parish. The glebe land amounted to 86 a. in 1838 (fn. 17) but had been reduced to c. 25 a. by the end of the 19th century. (fn. 18) In 1535 the living was assessed at £7 19s. 1d., (fn. 19) and at £50 in 1650. (fn. 20) It was worth £80 in the early 18th century, (fn. 21) £300 in 1814, (fn. 22) and £500 in 1856. (fn. 23)

The rectory house dates from the 17th century and was probably much restored or rebuilt by William Wolley c. 1665 (fn. 24) on an L-shaped plan. His son, also William, was assessed on 7 hearths in 1672, (fn. 25) presumably representing the house, and it was described in 1705 as a building of 3 bays with a kitchen of 2 bays and other out-buildings. (fn. 26) The house was enlarged in the 19th century, the garden front being remodelled early in the century and the east wing and entrance front c. 1842. (fn. 27) In 1970 the house was undergoing extensive restoration at the expense of the Sinclairs.

Of the rectors of Miserden in the early 14th century, Nicholas de Suthinton, perhaps from a tenant family on the Musards' estate at Siddington, (fn. 28) was absent from the benefice in the service of Hugh Despenser between 1310 and 1314. (fn. 29) John de Keston, Nicholas's successor, was imprisoned in Gloucester Castle in 1322. (fn. 30) William Brescy, rector 1336-44, spent most of his incumbency absent at university or in the service of the bishop of Durham. (fn. 31) After Brescy's departure the living changed hands four times in seven years. (fn. 32) Henry Adams, instituted before the break with Rome, survived as rector through all the religious changes until his death in 1566; (fn. 33) in 1551 he was found unsatisfactory in his knowledge of religion. (fn. 34) His successor, Richard Rawlins, a pluralist who failed to catechize his flock, employed a curate who was not in orders in 1576. (fn. 35) William Wolley, rector 1636-70, (fn. 36) held Miserden in plurality with Brimpsfield until at least 1650, (fn. 37) and in 1658 the parliamentary commissioners considered uniting the benefices. (fn. 38) Samuel Rich succeeded at Wolley's death in 1670 but Wolley's son William (fn. 39) refused to allow Rich access to the parsonage and procured his imprisonment in Gloucester gaol. (fn. 40) Rich, who appears to have moved to Ledbury, stood surety for William Stansby, his successor at Miserden, in 1673. (fn. 41) Stansby had been presented by Christopher Guise but in the meantime Wolley had procured a nomination to the living from the Lord Chancellor, on pretence that the living was in lapse, and, although in 1678 the House of Lords decided in favour of Stansby, (fn. 42) Wolley appears to have continued as rector until his death in 1681. (fn. 43) Giles Mills, who owned Honeycombe Farm, (fn. 44) was rector 1728-85 although the living was served by curates for most of that period. (fn. 45) John Washbourne, D.D., held Miserden in plurality with Siddington. (fn. 46) He was succeeded by two more members of the Mills family, William Mills, rector 1797-1848, who lived at Shellingford (Berks.), (fn. 47) and William Yarnton Mills, rector 1848-70. (fn. 48)

Land which brought in an income of 4d. in 1548 for a lamp in the church (fn. 49) was next to the churchyard wall, where the elder William Wolley built a house, known as Lampacre, in the mid 17th century. (fn. 50)

The church of ST. ANDREW (fn. 51) is mostly built of rubble with freestone dressings and stone tiled roofs and comprises chancel with north vestry and south chapel, nave with north and south chapels and south porch, and west tower. The nave is of the 11th century and retains the outlines of the original round-headed north and south doorways. (fn. 52) The chancel is 12th-century and contains a contemporary window in the north wall; it was altered during the 13th century when a lancet window was placed in the north wall. Both doorways to the nave were reduced in height by the insertion of new arches in the 14th century, when the south porch was added. The manorial chapel, on the south of the chancel, and the tower were added in the 15th century, when the nave windows and east windows were enlarged and a stairway made for access to a rood-loft. The south chapel to the nave was added in the earlier 18th century by the owners of the Sudgrove estate, (fn. 53) and in 1730 the rector Giles Mills and William Mills of Hazle House, in Bidfield, built the north chapel. (fn. 54) A west gallery was inserted in the 18th century. (fn. 55) At a restoration in 1866, to designs of the Revd. W. H. Lowder, (fn. 56) the nave chapels were arcaded to give them the appearance of aisles, the gallery was removed, the nave and chancel reroofed, the chancel arch enlarged, and the nave windows altered.

There is a Norman font with a plain cylindrical bowl scored with chevrons, and, in the chancel, a 14th-century aumbry. The glass is all modern except for the badge of the duke of York in the window on the north wall of the nave. (fn. 57) In 1970 there was one large and one small bell, cast by Abraham Rudhall in 1722 to replace four ancient bells, (fn. 58) one of which had possibly been cast by Roger Purdue in 1629. (fn. 59)

In the manorial chapel is an alabaster monument to Sir William Sandys and his wife Margaret (d. 1641 and 1644). The work, possibly by Edward Marshall, (fn. 60) is of two full-size recumbent figures with children carved round the tomb-chest. Traces of the rich gilding and colour were still on the monument in 1970. Also in the chapel, to which it was removed from the chancel in 1866, (fn. 61) is a tomb with an effigy to William Kingston (d. 1614), attributed to Samuel Baldwin of Stroud. On the north wall of the chancel is a monument to Anthony Partridge and his wife, also attributed to Samuel Baldwin, which incorporates kneeling figures in a deep plinth surrounded by classical columns. (fn. 62) In the churchyard are some 18th-century carved tombs. The church plate includes a chalice and paten cover of 1735, a salver of 1754, and a flagon of 1780. (fn. 63) The registers for Miserden are complete from 1574. (fn. 64)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 169v.
  • 2. See below.
  • 3. Reg. Giffard, 40.
  • 4. Lond. Gaz. 8 May 1928, pp. 3227-8.
  • 5. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1970), 22.
  • 6. Reg. Giffard, 23.
  • 7. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1970), 22.
  • 8. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Polton, ff. 66v., 68v.
  • 9. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi, 1566, 1576, 1584.
  • 10. Ibid. 1576.
  • 11. Ibid. 1590, 1797.
  • 12. e.g. ibid. 1728, 1785.
  • 13. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 221.
  • 14. Dugdale, Mon. ii. 70.
  • 15. G.D.R., T 1/122.
  • 16. G.D.R., V 5/207T 5.
  • 17. G.D.R., T 1/122.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1897), 241.
  • 19. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 497.
  • 20. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 21. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, f. 217v.
  • 22. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 35.
  • 23. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 329.
  • 24. Rudder, Glos. 555.
  • 25. E 179/247/14 rot. 8.
  • 26. G.D.R., V 5/207T 5.
  • 27. Verey, Glos. i. 322.
  • 28. Cf. P.N. Glos. (E.P.N.S.), i. 81.
  • 29. Reg. Reynolds, 87, 91.
  • 30. Reg. Cobham, 228, 244; Cal. Close, 1318-23, 423.
  • 31. Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Montacute, ff. 26, 27; Reg. Bransford, pp. 48, 69, 82; Cal. Pat. 1343-5, 342.
  • 32. Cal. Pat. 1343-5, 447; Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Thoresby, f. 33; Reg. Bransford, p. 407.
  • 33. Hockaday Abs. xxv, 1532 subsidy, f. 15; G.D.R. wills 1566/48.
  • 34. E.H.R.. xix. 114.
  • 35. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi; G.D.R. vol. 40, f. 190v.
  • 36. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi.
  • 37. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 38. Hockaday Abs. cxxxiii; cf. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxi. 85-6.
  • 39. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi; Bigland, Glos. ii. 226.
  • 40. Hist. MSS. Com. 7, 8th Rep. I, H. of Lords, p. 151.
  • 41. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi.
  • 42. Hist. MSS. Com. 8, 9th Rep. II, H. of Lords, p. 122; Lords Journal, xiii. 284.
  • 43. Par. reg. 1574-1695, penes the Revd. A. B. Lea, rector of Miserden and Edgeworth.
  • 44. Glos. R.O., D 127/199.
  • 45. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi.
  • 46. Ibid. cccxxxviii, 1790.
  • 47. Ibid. cclxxxvi; G.D.R. vol. 383, no. ccxxxiv.
  • 48. List of rectors, in ch.
  • 49. Trans. B.G.A.S. viii. 303.
  • 50. G.D.R. wills 1671/201; P.N. Glos. (E.P.N.S.), i. 131, suggests a link between the name Lamphill wood in the SE. part of the parish and a lamp in the church; no evidence has been found to support it.
  • 51. Atkyns, Glos. 561.
  • 52. H. M. and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture (Cambridge, 1965), i, p. 431, and plates 529-30.
  • 53. Rudder, Glos. 555.
  • 54. Ibid.; Hockaday Abs. cclxxxvi, 1730.
  • 55. The description of the church before restoration is taken from the model made in 1864 and kept in the church in 1970.
  • 56. Glos. R.O., photocopy 626.
  • 57. Rudge, Hist. of Glos. i. 318.
  • 58. Glos. Ch. Bells, 56; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 202v.
  • 59. Glos. R.O., P 320/CW 2/1.
  • 60. Verey, Glos. i. 322: Nicholas Stone is suggested as sculptor in Roper, Glos. Effigies, 354.
  • 61. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 202v.
  • 62. Verey, Glos. i. 322, following Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 148.
  • 63. Glos. Ch. Plate, 149.
  • 64. B. & G. Par. Recs. 195.