St James Church Tytherington

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Tytherington Church
Dedication : St James the Greater.
Rectory to 1330, Vicarage to 1983, then combined with Cromhall and Tortworth into one Rectory.
The following summary of the history of the fabric of the building is included as there is no guide-book to the church.
There may have been a wooden structure on the site of the present stone building, which was begun in the late Norman (Transitional') period, about 1150, with the basic structure of nave and chancel. Surviving details are the niche over the porch, and the impost (the moulded top of the pillar carrying the chancel arch, in this case) preserved on the wall by the lectern.
In the Early English period, to about 1300, a low narrow south aisle was added (note the lancet west window); the wagon roof was built, also the base of the tower (note the batter of the walls, the staircase turret and the window frame) and the north aisle (the east end of the arcade is original, the aisle walls are battered).
The church's basic form was now established. During the Decorated period, perhaps 1280-1350, two of the present windows were constructed, the east window in the north aisle, and the east window in the chancel. Other windows, the south window in the south aisle, the north and west windows in the north aisle, are either contemporary or 15th century copies of the Decorated style. There are two fragments of medieval glass at the top of the south window in the south aisle. Towards the end of this period, in 1330, the church was appropriated to Llanthony Abbey, Gloucester.
 

Subsequent changes are listed below in note form.
Perpendicular period, 1350-1539. Completion of the tower (Perpendicular tracery in window). Contemporary, very early, clock. South chapel built, with two Perpendicular windows, Priest's door, walls with no batter. South wall of chancel removed, monument erected between chancel and chapel. Piscina moved from chancel to chapel. Stoup, in porch, for holding holy water.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, 1536-40, the church was appropriated to the Crown.
New bells were installed in 1617 (two) and 1623; these may have been medieval bells re-cast. Post Reformation font.
With the Act of Uniformity, 1662, came a new chalice and paten, given by Sir Grevill Verney, Lord of the Manor, a decorated Jacobean oak altar, another bell (1669), and a new vicarage (now 'The Manor'). During the 18th century, the south aisle was raised, the porch rebuilt, and the tenor bell recast (1790). The chancel became unsafe, perhaps because of a fire, for charred beams were subsequently found; it was rebuilt in 1778, but shortened from 381/2 ft. to 24 ft. Chancel repairs were the responsibility of the Patron; not surprisingly he decided that a 24 ft chancel was amply big enough in the circumstances. The Decorated east window in the chancel was re-used, the north window filled with tracery, the south wall built up, and parts of the old roof reused.
In the early part of the 19th century, a vestry was constructed at the west end of the south aisle (1825) and the Rev. Mr Green gave a credence paten (1826) and extensively remodelled the vicarage (1819). This may be when the gallery was built.
A major restoration took place in 1884 ; -
Removed: 1825 vestry, plaster from
wagon roofs, gallery, wall at south of chancel, all but one of the old oak benches.
Uncovered: Priest's door, niche over
south door, stoup in porch, remnant of monument between chancel and chapel, now below east window of chapel.
Rebuilt: Chancel arch, most of north
arcade, porch. Two bells recast, oak frame for bells installed, oak screen inserted between belfry and nave. Chancel floored with Minton tiles. The chancel work, including choir benches and communion rail, was paid for by the Patron; the remainder by public subscription (mostly from H L Hardwicke).
A 'Melody Organ' (harmonium) was installed in 1879, the gift of Mr & Mrs Samuel Cox Pullen. It was replaced by a pipe organ in 1892, at a cost of 150. Stained glass was placed in the north window of the chancel, 1897.
Small chalice and paten, the gift of the Rev. John Bingley.

20th century:-
Acetylene gas lighting superseded by electric lighting, 1918; the estimate was for 47 12s, and current was supplied by the quarry company.
Medieval clock restored and replaced, 1947. Bells hung on ball bearings, 1947.
Lectern, 1950.
Flaking Pennant stone roof tiles replaced by Broseley clay tiles (Cotswold colour), 1953.

Pipe organ sold and replaced by electronic organ; chapel furnished 1959. Vestry constructed in west end of north aisle, 1959.
Treble bell installed, 1959.
N aisle cleared of pews, 1985.
Electronic organ replaced by second-hand pipe organ, placed at east end of north aisle, 1986.
External floodlighting, 1988.
 

The Church Clock

During the rehanging of the bells in 1947, some scrap-iron in the belfry was being sold for a pound or two, when the schoolmaster Mr. Leakey called in a horologist  Rev. Walter Young, then Prison Chaplain at Leyhill, who confirmed that these were the parts of an antique clock. Rev Young had the parts de-rusted and black sprayed in Bristol, and then re-assembled them in his workshop.  He does not recollect making any but the smallest parts the 'scrap' had been almost complete. The clock was replaced in the tower as a 1939-45 War Memorial (see plaque in church).
It is a clock with a 2-post wrought iron frame, vertical (i.e. trains one above the other). It has in the past been converted from foliot to anchor escapement, and from flash locking for the striking train to a new set of peg and lever control bars in a pair of rectangular brackets at the top of the frame. The clock has been replaced in the church without its original supporting pillar, and back to front, i.e. with the fly exposed and the barrels wound by a crank handle. The going train is converted with a pair of large D-shaped brackets in which the arbors of the 2nd wheel and escape wheel and anchor-crutch are pivoted. It has one hand.  The clock may date from before 1500 but it would be safer to attribute it to the 16th century. In either case, it is a rare and very early clock, probably made in Bristol or Chew Magna. It is a sobering thought that the mechanism may have ticked several thousand million times.
Recent excavations at Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains have shown that there was a very early turret clock, probably on the crossing tower. Was it simply coincidence that Tytherington also had a very early turret clock? 

The photograph below right shows a Memorial Service led by Canon A.J. Kitson in 1948 one year after the church clock had been restored

The Bells
In medieval times, four bells were normal. Later, they were often recast into 5 or 6 lighter bells. It is possible that Tytherington's medieval bells (if any) were recast early in the 17th century. The present six bells are:
1. Treble: Inscribed: 'John Taylor & Co., Loughborough, made and hung 1959'.
2. Original inscription:
WILLIAM : HOLLOWAY : WILLIAM : NEALE : CHURCH : WARDENS 1669 RP (R P is Roger Purdue, of Bristol). 28" diameter, with grape frieze:
Recorded as cracked in 1881; recast 1884, Llewellins and James, Bristol.
3. Inscription: ANNO DOMINI 1617 30" diameter.(by Roger Purdue, Bristol)
4. Inscription: ANNO O DOMINI 1617 311/4" diameter.(by Roger Purdue, Bristol)
5. Recast 1884, Llewellins and James, Bristol.
Original inscription: 4:1 ANNO DOMINI 1623. 35" diameter.
6. Inscription:
WM PULLEN & INO COBB CHURCH WARDENS 1790 JOHN RUDHALL
39" diameter.

The then Vicar recorded: 'The Tenor Bell (weighing ten hundredweight, one quarter, fourteen pounds) was Recast at Gloucester, Christmas 1790'.
In 1884, the five bells (two of which had been recast in that year) hung in an oak frame (date not known, possibly 1884). By the end of 1909, the bells were silent, as the belfry was in serious need of repairs. A new steel and iron frame would have cost over 135, and the Churchwardens decided that they could not raise this sum. Instead, the frame was put into 'serviceable condition' in 1910 by Gillett and Johnson for 60. The bells were rehung on ball bearings by Mears and Stainbeck of Whitechapel in 1947; the steel joists on which the wooden frame is supported may have been installed at the same time. The sixth bell was added in 1959.
Handbells: The Rev. Mr Bingley (Vicar 1895-1900) presented his set of handbells to the church in 1910. These may survive as part of the present set.


Monuments and Tombstones
Only a fragment remains of the oldest memorial in the church. When the south chapel was added, perhaps around 1500, the tomb of its founder was placed in the arch between the chapel and the chancel. A small piece of carved stone from this tomb was found during the restoration of the church in 1884 and can still be seen inserted in the east wall of the chapel. It would be interesting to investigate the identity of this benefactor.
 

Important people chose to be buried beneath the chancel floor and near the altar. Mr Elbridge, the vicar, was thus buried in 1677. The vaults seem to have been done away with when the church was restored and the memorial stones moved to the base of the tower, recording the burials of many Hardwickes and Hobbses: the 'Family Vault of Thomas Hobbs Esq.' is clearly inscribed 'FULL'. The last chancel burial seems to have been that of Thomas Hardwicke, the Lord of the Manor, in 1844, at which occurred an indecent incident involving George Matthews, who desecrated the vault during the burial service.
 

Staying inside the church, we find many interesting memorials hidden away on the walls behind the vestry; the wooden Bedggood memorial is now masked by the organ, and one of the two old brasses has recently had a bookshelf fixed across it. Although this brass is a somewhat grisly work of 1755 which includes a sickle, an hour-glass, the
wings of Time, a skull and four cross-bones, it does not deserve this ignominy. Fortunately, the finest memorial is still in full view, a classic; stone tablet to William Pullin of Tower Hill Farm, who died in 1729 and whose descendants have farmed first Newhouse and then The Laurels at Itchington up to the present day. The classical marble tablet to Martha Hobbs (died 1777) is typical of several others. Noteworthy, also, is that to William Cullimore (died 1829) by Emett.
 

In the 17th century, the church was getting crowded with burials, am the expanding population and increasing wealth meant that more and more people of the kind who would formerly have had monuments inside the church had to be buried in the churchyard. The use of gravestones then spread to all who could afford it, and the churchyard came to be what it is today. No longer were the medieval sports and games, dancing and fairs to be found in it.
 

The oldest gravestones are on the south side of the church, the north being considered unlucky and only used later under pressure of space and lessening superstition. Here in Tytherington all the gravestones on the north side are of this century. On the south side are the fourteen imposing chest (or altar or table) tombs which were recently listed by English Heritage. Many of them have lost most or all of their inscriptions but some patient scrutiny by Roger Howell, helped by the lists of memorials in Bigland, has led to the identification of all but two of these splendid tombs.
 

The oldest are the memorials to Edward Hobbs and to Nicholas Webb, both dated 1701. The other twelve fall into the period 1717- 1730. A survey in 1984 by parishioners, with help from some members of the Bristol and Avon Archaeological Research Group, and with subsequent revisions, has produced a record of all the 170 gravestones ii the original graveyard. There is a wide variety, many ledger stones (flat)
slabs) and many more upright stones, some with small often matching foot-stones. Some of the upright stones carry delightful carvings of scrolls and foliage, of hearts and cherubs, Father Time and scythes, and a few add some lines of verse in addition. This example is on a decorated stone which has lost all names and dates but is probably 18th century:
`This silent grave contains the virtuous dust Of one so truly pious, Good and just.
Can such pattern of true goodness
Be left behind or can past Ages (...)
Her numbered days were all timely spent

And then her happy soul to heaven went

Richly adorned with every Christian Grace

 By Angels carried to that Blissful place'.

 

St. James Church is a Grade 2 Listed building as are thirteen monuments in the churchyard.



Click on these thumbnails showing Tytherington Church to enlarge them.

Monica Williams with the Travell twins Stanley and Edward 1939 Marriage of the Squire Hardwicke's daughter c 1906 Will Humphries as a boy in 1930's with Tytherington church in the background. Julia Humphries on right. She ran the post office. Postcard of the Church c 1900 with ivy growing up the tower  Postcard of the Church  c 1900 showing possible quarry equipment in the church yard