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Down Hatherley Church

The church of St Mary and Corpus Christi dates from the 15th century, the Late Perpendicular tower and the base of the east wall of the chancel being the only remaining parts of the original 15th century church. It seems likely that an even earlier church existed and there is evidence of a "chaplain" in Down Hatherley as early as 1222. The rebuilding of the main body of the present church in Early Perpendicular style took place during 1859-1860 for the family of Sir Matthew Wood (see below). The new church opened for service after re-construction on 9th may 1860, with the guest of honour being Sir William Page Wood, son of Sir Matthew Wood. The architect was F. S. Waller, a Gloucester architect who also remodelled Ashleworth and Sandhurst churches and built Twigworth church from scratch. Down Hatherley is described as one of Waller’s best rural churches. Parish records indicate that “the new church benefited from Haden’s warm air apparatus installed underneath”. The stained glass windows, by O’Connor, in the chancel also date from around 1860 and memorial windows were added during World War I. The lych-gate was added in 1909 by Waller’s son, F.W. Waller and dedicated to Canon Henry Maddy, who was rector from 1856 to 1907, the longest-serving rector in the church’s history.

The original 15th century bell-tower remained almost untouched in the 19th century rebuilding of the church. There are 37 steps leading up to the bell chamber, which houses a single bell, installed in 1734, when Rev Samuel Gwinnett was rector. The inscription on the bell reads “A.R.1734 ANN PYFF and BEN BREWER CH WARDENS” Samuel Gwinnett was the father of Button Gwinnett, who was a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence (see below). The bell founder was Abraham Rudhall (the “AR” in the above inscription), whose foundry was on Westgate Street in Gloucester, not far from Gloucester Cathedral.


The lead font, of late Tudor date, is a fine example of the type. It is one of only nine Tudor lead fonts in Gloucestershire. The decoration is foliage and Tudor roses in cartouche-shaped frames, lozenges, stars and twisted balusters. At the bottom is a band of late perpendicular cresting. The font was set in its stone base around 1860.

The church organ dates from 1929 and was provided as a bequest of Francis Jones esq., who also directed that money should be left in trust to pay for its upkeep. The organ was built by Jackson of Oxford.

The Old Rectory, to the north of the church, was built in 1860-62 for canon Henry Maddy to designs of Fulljames and Waller, and replaced an earlier building, which was located in the present-day glebe field and which burned down in the 1850s.


In 2006, Down Hatherley church featured in a BBC book, titled “Songs of Praise: The Nation’s favourite Churches”, by Andrew Barr. This book describes thirty churches throughout the country, large and small, and features photographs of both the interior of Down Hatherley church and a history of the church and those associated with it over the years. The only other Gloucestershire church featured in the book is Fairford.


In 2007 a survey was undertaken of the churchyard and the location, type and size of the gravestones, with their inscriptions, was noted. A record now exists of all the graves that can be identified. The oldest grave to be identified in the survey was that of William Drinkwater, who died on 17 January 1615. On his tombstone are the details of a charity which he set up to provide for the poor, with the following inscription: “Heere lyeth the body of William Drinkewater. Buried the XXIX day of January, 1615, who (in zeale to the worde) gave forty shillings yeerely for ever towardes the maintenance of a preacher in Glocester, and in charity ten shillings yeerely to the poor of Hatherley for ever.”


Another old tomb was that of Henry Aisgill, who was vicar of the church and also a prebendary of Gloucester cathedral. He died on 18 June 1622 and the inscription on his tomb reads:


Hic jacet Sepultus venerabilis Vir Henricus Aisgill, ecclesiae cathedr. Menevensis cancellarius, Gloucestr, Prebendarius nec non hujus Parochiae Vicarius qui obit in Domino Junii 18 AD 1622

Henry Aisgill’s son, Joshua Aisgill, succeeded his father as Rector of the Church until he moved to Lydd, in Kent, in 1627.

St Mary & Corpus Christi, Down Hatherley, Rectors and Assistant Clergy

From

1532
1540
1543
1579
1587
1622
1627
1640
1660.01.12
1661
1662.03.12
1671.08.06
1699
1708
1727
1775
1800.09
1811
1813
1820
1822
1827
1827
1830
1835
1839
1841
1853
1856
1906
1907
1912
1913
1914
1918.01
1926
1931
1941
1954.03
1957
1962
1985
2004
2010
2013

To

1805

1830
1835
1839
1841
1853
1856
1907
1907

1929
1941
1953

1962
1985
2003
2009
2013

Incumbent

Sir William Bakyn
Vacant
James Wing
Morgan Powell
Henry Aisgill, MA
Joshua Aisgill, BD
John Gwilliam, MA
Anthony Robinson, MA
John Foxe, MA
Thomas Woodroffe (minister)
Humphrey Randall
Samuel Broad, MA
Jonah Blagge (curate)
Thomas Pugh, MA
Samuel Gwinnett, LLB
Martin Barry
Charles Craze, BA (curate)
RS Skillern (curate)
William Wilbraham (curate)
John Edmund Jones (curate)
HE Hawkins (curate)
Frederick David Perkins, BA
George C Smith (curate)
A Sayers (curate)
HP Rennett (curate)
Hardwick Shute (curate)
Peter Bellinger Brodie, MA, LCS (curate)
Edward Layng, MA (curate)
Henry William Maddy, MA (canon)
Montague Charles Sanders, MA (curate)
Francis Bedwell, BD
Ernest Compton Gill, BSc
Lewis Evans, MA
Stanford Robinson, MA
Harold Vernon Schuster
Henry William Kirby
William Owen, BA
Vicar of Twigworth & Rector of Down Hatherley
Sydney Chamberlain Kell, L Th
George Richard Newman
Thomas Beresford Davies
John O’Brien
John F Ward Dip Th
Martin Thompson
Suzanne Skepper

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