In "County Folk-lore" (Gloucestershire) is the following which is taken from Notes and Queries:--
"It was the custom fifty years a go for the people of the neighbouring parishes to throng to Randwick Church, on the second Sunday after Easter, when the story of Balaam was read in the lesson for the day. On this day not only the Church but the churchyard were often thronged. Doubtless the custom prevailed elsewhere, and churchwardens' accounts might throw some light on the origin of it?" (The Churchwardens' accounts having been searched, no mention is made of this custom. The writer thinks that the "first Sunday after Easter," or "Wap Sunday" is meant, when the people certainly did flock to the Church.)
The same book contains the following, taken from Household Words:--
"MAY DAY.-In the village of Randwick, hard by the Stroud cloth mills, at the appointed day-break three cheeses were carried upon a litter, festooned and garlanded with blossoms, down to the Churchyard, and rolled thrice mystically round the sacred building; being subsequently carried back in the same way upon the litter in triumphal procession, to be cut upon the village green, and distributed piecemeal among the bystanders. *
(* The writer never heard of this custom)
Though not possessing its " menhir " or "tolman," as did Minchinhampton, still Randwick so far believed in its efficacy as to find a substitute. This " menhir " or "tolman " was an upright stone with a hole through it, through which infants were passed, as a safe-guard against measles and other childish ailments. Randwick folk repaired to the wood, and there hunted up a briar which formed an arch, by reason of both ends having taken root. Under this natural archway the child was passed, and was supposed to be for ever free from the above-mentioned diseases. Randwick folk were. firm believers in witchcraft, and many were the gruesome tales of cows bewitched, and especially of the nine cats belonging to one witch running up the chimney on her death.
In the Churchwardens' Book, which dates from 1711, is an account of a Church rate being levied by them of. ninepence in the pound, and also collected by them. These Church rates were continued till 1861, when they were abolished.
Randwick has always been a fertile field for ghost-lore, and many are the ghost tales on record. Many houses also in years gone by have been" haunted "-notably, two well known to the writer.
There has always been a tradition in Randwick to the effect that an under-ground passage, or covered pathway, exists, leading from Randwick Church to Moor Hall an old Elizabethan Manor House. about a quarter of a mile distant.
At the burial of a Mr. White, of Stonehouse, a tremendous thunderstorm occurred; which as White had taken his life by hanging himself, was considered a judgment upon him. He kept company with Miss Pegler, of Moor Hall, their Names being inscribed on a window of that old house; and having as some say consulted a witch who said he would commit suicide by hanging himself or as some say having committed an offence worthy of this punishment, he took his this manner. It was six hours after the start from Stonehouse before the burial could take place, the horses breaking loose, and in fact such a storm occurring as is spoken of with awe to this day. Tradition also says the ghost of White was "laid" in the middle of the Churchyard.
The question arises where the family of Iles lived, members of which are buried in the chancel of Church, and one of which, Nathaniel Iles, presented the Parish with a bell.
It is the opinion of some people that he lived at what is known as the Ile mills and which is probably a corruption of lles Mills. This mill was always in Randwick Parish, till the "Divided Parishes Act" came into operation.*
(*The Register gives no account of where he resided], but simply says :-- Nathaniel Iles Gent was buried Feb. 25th (1740).)
The reason why Randwick belonged to the see of Worcester was this In the year 657 Gloucestershire was included in the Bishopric of Lichfield; but in 679 Gloucester was incorporated with the see of Worcester, and continued so till 1541, when it was created into a distinct Bishopric by Henry VIII.
A paper by the late Mr. Niblett (Haresfield), preserved in the vestry of Standish Church, says:--
"Pension to Dr. Greenwoode, perpetual Vicar, and his successors, to find 4 Chaplains for the Chalpes (Chappells) of Rendwyke, Hardwicke, Salle and Morton by annual composition :-£15 5s."
In one of the Standish Registers is the following:--
"Mr. William Hill tooke possession of Ranwicks chappell as Vicar of Standish, and ye chappelle thereunto annexed and there preached firstly the nineteenth day of November, Anno bomini, one thousand, six hundred, fifty and fower."
(This refers to Randwick Church, which was a Chapel of Ease to Standish).
The following is a copy of an old circular dated September, 1864:--
"Proposed Restoration of Randwick Church -" This village Church is of ancient date. It is mentioned in connection with the mother Church of Standish as early as the year 1348 (22 Edward III.) It now requires partial Restoration. It is proposed to take down the Organ Gallery at the west end-this gallery hides several seats from view, and often leads to unhappy effects in disturbing the order and decency of Divine Service; and, it obstructs the light and air from the pews beneath. Any loss of seats by this removal will be more than regained by a fresh arrangement of seats in the body of the Church.
"It is therefore proposed to replace the present square or double seats by single ones, commodiously low and uniform, so that all the congregation may face the reading desk and pulpit, which will be lowered and placed at the north-east angle of t lie Church, against the Chancel wall.
"The plan also includes the renewal of the North Window and that of the Chancel; and on the outside the removal of a very objectionable flight of steps to the gallery against the west front; and a new Porch."
The following list of Fees hangs in the vestry, framed in oak. It is evidently old, but has no date,
In "Churches and Views of Stroud and Neighbourhood" is the following:--
"The very learned and Rev. Dr. White, Arabic Professor in Oxford, and Bampton Lecturer, was born in this Parish, of parents in a humble walk of life, and affords a memorable instance of the successful pursuit of knowledge under the most trying difficulties."
"The Rev. J. Elliott, M.A., in the year 1821 baptized Simeon Pearce, a boy of the village school, who, through a kind lady of the neighbourhoed, emigrated as a youth to Sydney, with this simple character from the clergyman: 'Always at school and always at Church."'
The following comes from the same source:--
"In the year 1450, Mr. Spillman, of Spiliman's Court, Stroud, gave an estate, now called Oxlinch, and valued at that time at £50 a year, for the benefit of the poor of Dursley."*
(Compare Spillman with Spylman, in the Latin document, 1450, page 47)
The following has been taken from "John Wesley's Journal":--
"About eleven, I preached at Runwick seven miles from Gloucester, The Church was much crowded, though a thousand or upwards stayed in the churchyard. In the afternoon I explained further the same words, 'What must I do to be saved!' I believe some thousands were then present, more than had been in the morning. O, what a harvest is here! When will it please our Lord to send more labourers into his harvest?"
Again:-- "Sunday, July 27th, 1742.-When the afternoon service was ended at Runwick I stood and cried to a vast multitude of people, Unto him that worketh not, but believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness."
George Whitfield, who was curate of Stone-house in 1739, also preached in Randwick Church. The following is from "Good and Great Men of Gloucestershire :--
"July 1st, 1739. To Randwick, the Church was quite full, and about two thousand were in the churchyard, who by taking down the window behind the pulpit were able to hear. Many wept sorely."
"July 15th. Twice in Randwick Church."
The following is also culled from the same book:--
"Mr Vines, of Randwick was a sturdy quarryman, earning his daily bread in Randwick Wood, and freely preaching the Gospel on the Lord's Day, and at other times. Unassuming in character, homely in appearance and attire, with a very limited education, his simple and spiritual addresses were well received. He knew the Bible and he preached it, he felt the power of religion and he proclaimed it. His name is still held in remembrance, and the scene of his daily toil pointed out by the descendants of those who knew him a hundred years ago. It was not an unusual thing for him to walk from Randwick to Bristol (30 miles), on the Saturday evening, preach in the city and Kingswood on Sunday, and return on foot to the stone quarry by mid-day on Monday."
"Mr. William Hogg was the perverse son of a godly father. Being in business as a butcher, and wishing to marry, he made an offer to the daughter of Mr. Mitchell, lord of the manor of Randwick, and a large landed proprietor. The young lady consented, and became his wife, but the parents expressed their displeasure by leaving no share of their property. Marriage did not work any lasting change in his habits. The public house and the skittle-alley again became his favourite resorts. Going, however, to hear Whitfield preach at Painswick he became a changed man and a preacher of the Gospel. In trade his word was never doubted, and 'As true as butcher Hogg,' became a familiar saying. He spent large sums in charity, and died in the 80th year of his age, November 2nd, 1800."
Some time during' the eighteenth century Randwick Church was broken into and robbed of its plate. The thieves were, however, caught and convicted, and were hanged for the offence. According to one account, their names were Crewe and Chapman; another says their names were Daniel Bond and - Cook. The fact that William Bennett gave a silver cup in 1724 for the use of the Communion, and Sarah Pegler a silver plate in 1828, gives colour to this belief; but after repeated enquiries the writer can gain no further particulars than the fore-going, and these have been handed down in the village by old inhabitants
An old map of Randwick, dated 1809, has the following:---
"There is considerable land belonging to Randwick, but the quantity or situation thereof cannot be found." (!)
Since the present Restoration has been commenced the vault of the Ridlers' family has been discovered in the oldest part of the South aisle (that is, the South-East part) ; and the tablet to this family, which was erected on the wall of this aisle close to the floor, and under the gallery stairs, has been laid on the vault, and will be covered by the concrete for the new floor. The Register of burials says under date:--
"1787. 'April 7th.-Phebe Ridler, Stonehouse Parish. "'
The vault of the Cooks, who lived at Farmhill House, has also been found in the South aisle, as well as that of the Butchers, who lived at Westrip Farm. A brass. plate was affixed in the floor over the latter, containing the following inscription:--
"In a vault beneath lie the remains of William Butcher, Esqre., of Westrip, and Hannah, his wife
. "Also of John Butcher, Gentleman, son of the above, who died December 25th, 1850 aged 66 years.
Also those of Hannah Maria, his wife, who departed this life, 15th day of November, 1846, in the 68th year of her age.
"Their daughter, Anna Maria, who died June 2nd, 1813, aged 4 years, was interred in the same vault."
On the South side of the Tower under the battlements, is the disc of an old sundial.
In removing the front wall of the South aisle (to insert three Early English windows instead of tile two large ones) and other alterations, the base of a Norman pillar was discovered. It is circular, 11 inches in depth, and 47 in circumference. Half of a Piscina was also found. These with the two stones over tile East door before mentioned, undoubtedly point to the fact that tile present Church occupies the site of a former Norman Church.
An extensive restoration of the Church is now (May, 1893) in active progress, which includes the removal of tile gallery, built early in this century; tile insertion of three instead of two windows in the South aisle ; the building of a memorial aisle to the late Rector, to be known as the "Elliott Memorial Aisle" ; to open tile Tower arch; to build an organ chamber in the North wall of the Chancel ; and also vestries at the East end of the "Elliott Aisle."
The memorial stone of the Elliott aisle was laid on Wednesday, May 24th, by Mrs. Tilton, daughter of the late Rev. J. Elliott. On it is tile following inscription:--
"To the Glory of God, and in Memory of the Rev. John Elliott, 72 years Vicar of this Parish, this stone was laid on the 24th of May, 1893."
A memorial stone in the South aisle was also laid at the same time with this inscription:--
"To the Glory of God, this Stone was laid on the 24th of May, 1893, to commemorate the Rebuilding of this South aisle."
A Parish Magazine has been started this year (1893), known as "The Randwick Parish Church Magazine. it is in great demand, the circulation being not far short of 200.
Instead of there being only one service on Sundays as formerly, the Parish Magazine gives the services as follows --
SERVICES--Holy Communion, 2nd Sunday in month, at 5 o'clock: 4th and 5th Sunday in the month at 8.30.
SUNDAYS-Morning Service, Sundays, at 11, with Holy Communion on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month; Afternoon, Children's Service, with Catechizing, at 3; Evening Service at 6.30.
On Saints' Days and Holy Days, Morning Service at 9.30 and Evening Service at 7.30.
Service on Thursday Evenings, 7.30; Choir Practice, 8.15.