Sapperton: 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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'Sapperton: Church', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 96-98. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]


There was a church at Sapperton by the 1190s when a priest was recorded there. (fn. 1) A rector was mentioned in 1234 (fn. 2) and the living has remained a rectory. (fn. 3) Henry of Leigh and Emme, his wife, appointed to the living in 1292 and 1298 (fn. 4) from which time the advowson descended with the de Lisle moiety of Sapperton manor. (fn. 5) During the Interregnum the Lord Protector appointed to the living, but the patronage was restored to the lord of the manor in 1660, (fn. 6) and Earl Bathurst was patron in 1971. (fn. 7)

In the mid 12th century the Pope confirmed to Belvoir Priory two-thirds of the demesne tithes of Sapperton and Frampton which had been granted to the priory by a previous owner of the manor, who had also provided a toft and an oxgang of land for the man deputed to collect the tithes. (fn. 8) The priory granted the tithes to the rector of Sapperton before the end of the 12th century but the grant was disputed and annulled in 1234 and again in 1242, when the rector had to pay a yearly rent of two marks to the priory in place of the tithes. In 1363 the priory and the rector agreed to make this a permanent arrangement at a yearly rent of 16s. 8d., (fn. 9) and it continued until the Dissolution. (fn. 10) The priory's portion of the tithes seems to have passed to the lord of the manor by the late 16th century when he held part of the tithes and the parsonage house in return for a yearly rent and for providing alternative accommodation for the rector. The lord also held half of the 60 a. of glebe recorded at that time, which he probably retained, since the rector held only 30 a. of glebe in 1612. (fn. 11) During the Interregnum the demesne tithes were again a source of controversy, (fn. 12) sharpened perhaps by the opposing loyalties of the Poole family and the Puritan minister. (fn. 13) By 1705 the tithes previously paid on Dorvel wood and on Sander's farm, the detached piece lying in Coates parish, had ceased to be paid and the tithes of Westley wood had been commuted to a yearly rent of 10s. At that date the rectorial glebe amounted to 60 a. with 4 beast-pastures in Frampton common, and 3 beastand 54 sheep-pastures in Sapperton common. (fn. 14) The tithes of Frampton and part of Hailey were commuted at the parliamentary inclosure of 1778 when the rector received 375 a. for his tithes, common rights, and glebe land there. (fn. 15) The tithes of Sapperton tithing were presumably commuted by a private agreement between the rector and the lord of the manor, possibly in the late 18th century when the rector was a member of the Bathurst family. (fn. 16) Tithes continued to be paid on c. 400 a. of Hailey manor, until 1842 when they were commuted for a rent-charge of £67 1s. 6d. (fn. 17) As a result of the various tithe agreements the rectorial estate amounted to c. 520 a. during the 19th century. (fn. 18) The yearly value of the living was assessed at £12 in 1291 (fn. 19) and at £16 11s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 20) By 1650 the rectory was worth £80 (fn. 21) and it had increased in value to £130 a century later; (fn. 22) in 1856 the living was worth £307 a year. (fn. 23)

The rectory, a stone house of two storeys with hipped dormers, dates in part from the 17th century but was largely rebuilt in the early 18th century. (fn. 24) The house was enlarged about 1760 (fn. 25) when the garden front was remodelled and a single-storey south wing was added, presumably for a service area. The porch was added in the early 20th century.

William, the rector of Sapperton in 1234, was said to have a son. William was succeeded by his former pupil, Simon of Leigh. (fn. 26) Two rectors in the early 14th century, Walter of Cirencester and Henry of Aston, (fn. 27) were local men. Henry's successor Thomas of Sherborne (fn. 28) was licensed in 1339 to attend a place of learning for two years. (fn. 29) William Manning, rector from c. 1530 to 1553, was found tardy in implementing the liturgical changes of Cranmer (fn. 30) but in 1551 he was found to be satisfactory in learning and theology. (fn. 31) Thomas Williams, rector from 1560 to 1575, held Sapperton in plurality with Coates and was non-resident in 1572 when a curate was serving Sapperton. (fn. 32) Williams's successor, Walter Llewellin, who held the living until 1603, (fn. 33) was considered well versed in the scriptures and the Latin tongue in 1576 (fn. 34) although he was later recorded as neither a graduate nor a preacher. (fn. 35) Nathaniel Butler, rector from 1603 to 1641, (fn. 36) donated 6s. 8d. from his lands in Bisley towards an annual sermon of thanksgiving on 5 November. (fn. 37) His successor Thomas Haines was declared a delinquent by Parliament in 1644 but continued serving the cure in 1650 and was deprived of his small estate by the county committee in 1653. (fn. 38) Ferdinand Appleby was instituted to the living in 1655 (fn. 39) but his sermon comparing royalists and idolaters in 1660 led to his own flight and the closing of the church. (fn. 40) After Appleby's deprivation Thomas Thatch (d. 1668) was presented. Richard Davies, rector from 1696 to 1708, (fn. 41) was an early student of Shakespeareana; (fn. 42) he was succeeded by two members of the Parsons family, Robert, who held the living from 1708 until 1749, and James, rector from 1749 until 1754.

From 1754 the Hon. Allen Bathurst was rector of Sapperton, which he held with Beverstone rectory from 1760 until his death in 1767. His successor Henry Courtenay held Sapperton in plurality with Spilsbury (Oxon.) in 1769. He was succeeded by another member of the Bathurst family, Henry Bathurst, who resigned in 1775 in favour of James Benson, who held the living until 1785 (fn. 43) and was also chancellor of Gloucester diocese. (fn. 44) In 1785 Henry Bathurst was re-appointed rector but in the early years of his second incumbency the living was served by curates living in neighbouring parishes while he remained at Christchurch, Oxford. (fn. 45) Bathurst became bishop of Norwich in 1805 and held Sapperton in commendam until 1833; in his later years the living was served by curates at a salary of £100 and residence in the rectory. From 1833 William Pye was rector of Sapperton which he held in plurality with Stratton rectory. In 1850 the living was served by a curate (fn. 46) and in 1878 Pye resigned after some disagreement with certain members of his congregation, in particular the Playne family. (fn. 47) The living was sequestered for six years following Pye's resignation. (fn. 48)

In 1841 Lord Bathurst built a chapel of ease at Frampton Mansell (fn. 49) dedicated to St. Luke; (fn. 50) it was designed by J. Parish. (fn. 51) The chapel, which has remained a chapel of ease, was built in the Norman style and comprises chancel with a semi-circular apse, nave, and a small south tower.

The parish church of ST. KENELM (fn. 52) is built of stone faced in ashlar and comprises chancel, central tower with spire, north and south transepts, and nave with south porch. (fn. 53) A small lancet in the north transept and jambs to the belfry entrance survive from an earlier church, but the church must have been largely rebuilt in the 14th century when the tower and spire were added. The north transept, which had a separate dedication to the Virgin, was refenestrated in the 16th century, presumably by the Pooles, whose mortuary chapel it became. (fn. 54) In the early 18th century the nave, south transept, and porch were almost completely rebuilt in classical style and new windows inserted in the chancel. A gallery was placed above the porch and was used by the church orchestra in the late 19th century. (fn. 55) A pair of 15th-century benches with linen-fold ornament were original to the church but most of the other woodwork was apparently taken from the manor-house demolished in the mid 18th century. It includes Jacobean carved figures which decorate the bench-ends and the front of the gallery, panelling decorated with arcading in the south transept and chancel, and a 16th-century wooden cornice decorated with heraldic devices in the nave.

The effigy of a knight in an early renaissance tomb-recess on the east wall of the north transept has no inscription except the date 1574 but the armorial shields identify it as a member of the Poole family. At the north end of the transept is an ornate classical monument with effigies of Sir Henry Poole (d. 1616), his wife, and children, including his son Devereux (fn. 56) who died c. 1591 fighting for the Protestant forces in France. (fn. 57) In the south transept is a marble monument and effigy to Sir Robert Atkyns (d. 1711) by Edward Stanton. (fn. 58) In the chancel is the grave of Henry Wentworth (d. 1644), a major-general in the royalist army. (fn. 59)

There are two medieval bells, one of the 14th century dedicated to St. John and one of the early 15th century by John Barber of Bristol. A third bell was cast by Abraham Rudhall in 1698. (fn. 60) The church plate includes a chalice and paten cover of 1702 and a tankard and flagon of 1711. (fn. 61) The octagonal font was made in the 15th century. The registers begin in 1661 and are continuous. (fn. 62)

The churchyard contains the base and shaft of a 15th-century cross, a number of 18th-century carved chest-tombs and headstones, and plainer tombs of the 18th and 19th centuries with copper inscription plates, including some signed by Cook of Stroud, Ursell of Cirencester, Iles of Minchinhampton, and Freebury of Stroud. The churchyard was closed for burials in the 1940s and a cemetery laid out behind the Barracks. (fn. 63)


  • 1. Hist. MSS. Com. 24, Rutland, iv, pp. 151-2. A dean of Sapperton was recorded between 1165 and 1177: Cal. Doc. France, ed. Round, p. 144, but the significance of this description is not clear.
  • 2. Hist. MSS. Com. 24, Rutland, iv, p. 152.
  • 3. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1971), 50.
  • 4. Reg. Giffard, 424, 494.
  • 5. e.g. Reg. Ginsborough, 149; Worc. Episc. Reg., Reg. Carpenter, i, f. 109.
  • 6. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi, 1655, 1660.
  • 7. Glouc. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1971), 50.
  • 8. Hist. MSS. Com. 24, Rutland, iv, pp. 110, 150.
  • 9. Ibid. 151-2.
  • 10. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 497; cf. ibid. iv. 116.
  • 11. G.D.R., V 5/260T 1-2.
  • 12. E 134/1656-7 Hil./19.
  • 13. Trans. B.G.A.S. l. 223; see below.
  • 14. G.D.R., V 5/260T 7.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., D 1388, copy of incl. award.
  • 16. See below.
  • 17. G.D.R., T 1/157.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., D 2525, terrier of Sapperton 1845; cf. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 350.
  • 19. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 221.
  • 20. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 497
  • 21. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 22. G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 29.
  • 23. G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 171.
  • 24. Atkyns, Glos. 638.
  • 25. Rudder, Glos. 643.
  • 26. Hist. MSS. Com. 24, Rutland, iv, p. 152.
  • 27. Reg. Ginsborough, 149; Reg. Cobham, 239.
  • 28. Reg. Cobham, 243.
  • 29. Reg. Bransford, p. 52.
  • 30. Hockaday Abs. xxv, 1532 subsidy, f. 14; cccxxxi.
  • 31. E.H.R. xix. 114.
  • 32. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi; xliv, 1572 visit. f. 50.
  • 33. Ibid. cccxxxi.
  • 34. Ibid. xlvii, 1576 visit. f. 95.
  • 35. Ibid. xlix, 1584 visit. f. 28.
  • 36. Ibid. cccxxxi.
  • 37. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 206v.
  • 38. Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 174.
  • 39. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 40. Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 174.
  • 41. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 42. D.N.B. s.v. Shakespeare, William.
  • 43. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 44. Rudder, Glos. 643.
  • 45. G.D.R. vol. 382, f. 35.
  • 46. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi.
  • 47. Glos. R.O., D 2525, correspondence 1845-79.
  • 48. G.D.R., D 16/3/21.
  • 49. H.O. 129/340/1/1/2.
  • 50. It was called St. Mark in 1856: G.D.R. vol. 384, f. 171.
  • 51. Verey, Glos. i. 252.
  • 52. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi, 1539. Tradition maintains that the body of the saint rested at Sapperton on its journey to Winchcombe: Jewson, By Chance I did Rove, 61.
  • 53. See plate facing p. 273.
  • 54. Hockaday Abs. cccxxxi, 1539; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 206v.
  • 55. Jewson, By Chance I did Rove, 84.
  • 56. Roper, Glos. Effigies, 363-8.
  • 57. Trans. B.G.A.S. l. 219.
  • 58. Roper, Glos. Effigies, 368-70; and for the sculptor, Verey, Glos. i. 387.
  • 59. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 226.
  • 60. Glos. Ch. Bells, 61.
  • 61. Glos. Ch. Plate, 180.
  • 62. B. & G. Par. Recs. 236.
  • 63. Docs. penes the rector.