RANDWICK CHURCH is mentioned in a document, in the registry of the See of Worcester (to which Gloucester formerly belonged), as early as 1348, being the twenty-second year of the reign of Edward III., as then existing with its churchyard, that is 544 years ago. It is, however, considerably older than this, perhaps by two or three centuries. It is dedicated to St. John, and is built in the Perpendicular, or Early English, and Tudor Styles.1 it originally consisted of only a nave and tower, but about 173 years ago a south aisle was added by subscription,2 the profits of the seats therein to be applied to the support of an afternoon lecture on Sundays. As nothing was, however, received for them, for as much as forty years, this was abolished, and they are now free. This aisle was enlarged in 1823, and a new Chancel built at the sole expense of Lord Sherborne, lord of the neighbouring manor of Standish. At this time certain pews were allotted to certain families, or rather houses; and the singers were given seats in the gallery. In 1865 the Church was restored and repewed, the faculty pews given up, and the whole of the seats made free. There were formerly three galleries in the church: the one in the South aisle now standing, another at the West end where the organ now stands, and one over this known as "the Martin's Nest." There was formerly a flight of stairs leading to the two principal galleries on the outside, both on the East and West ; access to the Martin's Nest being gained through the belfry.
On the gallery, now standing in the South aisle, arc the following inscriptions in gilt letters;
-" "The rents and profits of the seats in the gallery numbered 1-8, arc appropriated by faculty to the use of the perpetual curate, in lieu of the old gallery, taken down in the year 1823. And the rents and profits of the seats in the south aisle numbered 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, are appropriated to the use of the officiating minister of the parish. The seats in the south aisle of this church, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and also in this' gallery numbered 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 14, are hereby declared to be free and unappropriated for ever.
Benefactions :-This Church was enlarged at an expense of £320: of this sum £125 was a grant from the Church Building Society, the remainder, exclusive of £12 by the purchase of faculty seats, was raised by voluntary subscription. The principal timber was given by Lord Sherborne. (1851) The Chancel was rebuilt, and enlarged, by Lord Sherborne, the impropriator. (1828) Sarah Pegler, of Moor Hall, gave a silver plate for the use of the Communion.*
(*This silver plate is still in use, and contains the following inscription :--"Given by S. Pegler, for the use of Holy Communion in Randwick Church. 1828.")
The said Sarah Pegler, by will, dated May 2 1st, 1825, bequeathed £42 to the Stroud Dispensary. the interest of which to be expended annually, in tickets of recommendation to the said Dispensary; and to be given by the resident clergyman to any poor person residing within two miles of Randwick Church, who may be considered proper objects of such charity (1820). A new Communion Table, with drapery of purple cloth, cushions, prayer-book ---also a pulpit cushion and trimming for the Reading Desk, were presented to the Church by a widow lady of London, and her friends in the country."
The church now consists of a nave and a chancel, two aisles, porch, and a low embattled tower at the West end, and the belfry is reached by a short flight of stone steps on the North side of the Church. Originally, access was gained to the belfry and tower by a circular flight of steps which started from the ground apparently outside the Church, and which are still in existence at the back of the organ. The tower contains a peal of four bells, in a minor key;
No. (1). The tenor is inscribed
"GOD PROSPER THIS PARISH" R.V. RUDHALL, BELL FOUNDER, 1717.
No. (2). MR. NATHANIEL EILES, CHURCHWARDEN, A.R. 1701.
No. (3). Sancta Margareta + ora pro nobis + .
No. (4). + Sancti Egidii +
*The Rudhalls were a family of famous bell founders, of the city of Gloucester; one of the Standish bells, being also cast by them.
+ "Saint Margaret, pray for us." St. Margaret was at one time a very favourite saint (especially amongst women), there being in England as many as 238 churches dedicated in her honour. The legend concerning her is as follows: She was the daughter of Theodosius, a priest of Antioch, and was secretly brought up by her nurse in the Christian religion. The Governor of Antioch - Olybrius-wishing to marry her, found out that she was a Christian, on hearing which her father and relatives leave her in the Governor's hands, who, having tortured her, threw her into a dungeon; where Satan, disguised as a dragon, tried to terrify her, but she vanquished him by holding up the Cross. After this she was again tortured; but her constancy led to many conversions, which so enraged the tyrant that ho determined to put her to death, which he did, by the sword. (Mrs. Jameson.)
Sancti Egidii (English, Saint Giles). The legend of this saint is as follows: He was an Athenian of royal blood, and appears to have been a saint by nature. One day, on going into Church, he found a sick man lying on the pavement, whom the saint immediately healed by spreading his mantle over him. The fame of his miracles having caused the people to venerate him, he became a hermit and retired to a wilderness, about twelve miles to the south of Nissnes, by the mouth of the Rhone Here he dwelt in a cave, living upon the herbs and fruits of the forest, and upon the milk of a hind, which had taken up its abode with him. The King of France, hunting in the neighbourhood, wounded this hind, which fled to the cave of the saint and took refuge in his arms. The hunters, in following, were surprised to see a venerable man kneeling in l)rayer, and supposing him to be a holy man, prostrated themselves before him. All attempts made by the king to lure him from his solitude, however, proving futile, he died in his cave, about the year 541, and a magnificent monastery was raised on the spot. There are 146 churches dedicated to St. Giles. He was the patron saint of woodland, of lepers, beggars, cripples, and of those struck by some sudden misery. (Mrs. Jameson.) (Latin, "Sanctus Egidius." Italian, "Sant Egidio.")
In the chancel hangs the old escutcheon of the Royal Arms of England. On the top of it is A.R. (Anne Regina), and at the lower end "Semper Eadem," (always the same), with the date 1711. There are many tablets in the Church, two of which record benefactions left to the church as follows:-
Mr. Thomas Rawlins, B.A., minister of this church, gave towards building the new "isle." 15 00 00
Gave the canopy ... 0j 10 00
Gave towards the branch candlestick ... 05 00
Gave in part of tbe two hundred pounds to obtain late Queen's Bounty 10 00 00
"1726. Mr Robert Ellis, of Ebley, gave £100 to purchase lands; of ye income he left to the master of the Charity School, the other half to ye minister on condition of his preaching twice every Sunday; or otherwise the whole goes to the master of ye school. With the above hundred pounds, and £25 contribution to the school, were purchased two enclosures on Randwick Hill, and one acre in the field; of the income are due to the master of the school; and to the minister on the above conditions." A second tablet reads as follows:--
Benefactions to this Parish.
Anne 1627. Will Bennett, of this Parish, Gent., gave 3 Per Annum to the Curate and Poor for ever.
Anno 1630. Thos. Bennett, of this Parish, Gent., gave 5. s. P. Annum to the Curate and Poor for ever.
Anno 1706. Mr. Thos. Vobes, of Standish, gave after the Decease of his brother's wife, an House and 3 Acres of Land for ever; the income of which to pay for teaching 3 Poor Boys to write.
* The following is a copy from the Standish Registers concerning him :-" Thomas Vobes was buried the thirteenth day of February, Anne Domini 1706." Anne 1717. John Mills of Bisley Gent., gave 21. 10.s P. Annum for ever to buy Linen Cloth for the Poor at the Discretion of the Overseers, & Anne 1719. Richard Cambridge, Merchant, in the City of London, 50l towards founding a Charity School, to teach poor children to read, & Anne 1724. Will Bennett, of the parish of Stonehouse, Gent., gave a Silver Cup for the use of the Communion. Anne 1728. Mrs. Anne Hawker, of Wallbridge, Wed., gave 20£ to the Charity School. Anne 1730. Thos. Chandler, late of King's Stanley, Cler. gave 150£ to ye poor, ft to ye Parson for ever. 1761. Mrs. Eliz. Bennett gave 30£, the profits to be paid every xmas Day, by her Executors to 30 poor families. 1892. Mr. 3. G. Strachan, by will, bequeathed the sum of £500, free of legacy duty to be invested in the name of the Official Trustee of Charitable Funds, and the yearly interest to be p aid to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Randwick Church, to be divided amongst the poor the Ecclesiastical District for the time being of such Church, in such manner as the Vicar and Churchwardens shall in their absolute discretion think best (5th September: 1892).*
(*Another benefaction in the shape (I believe) of apprentice money was left by Mr. W. Chapman. It consisted of two cottages and land; known as the Hacres or Harcers. Through some mistake in the will it fell to the next of kin. The property is new in the writer's family.)
The following is the' list of names recorded on the tablets, 'with dates of death
This family of lies is buried in the chancel, and these inscriptions are on brasses, on flatstones. There is a stained glass window in memory of Henrietta Bullivant. On the outside of the Church are three tablets ; one over the vestry (which is under the tower and belfry) door to the Pegler family reads thus:-
Beneath resteth the body of Richard Pegler, who departed this life, January the 27th. 1755. Aged 70. Also of Sarah, his wife. She died April the 7th, 1764. Aged 79. The wife of James, their son, who departed this life, the 30th day of August, 1 1742 Aged 31. Also of Jane, their daughter, who died May 11th, 1788. Aged 65 years.*
(* As this tablet shews considerable signs of wear, from exposure to the weather and as a member of the family left a benefaction to the parish in the shape of dispensary tickets; the writer gives this inscription in full.)
A monumental brass, on the outside, after saying: "In Memory of William and Sarah Beard, also of 9 of their children," goes on to eulogise the said Sarah Beard in the following terms: -
"A most indulgent mother sleepeth here;
No love to children could he more sincere;
But vain are tears of friends when God doth call,
All likewise must to death as victims fall."
A third tablet (of stone) is in memory of Richard Hawker, blue dier; he died March the 18th Anno Domini 1719, aged 59 years. Also Hester, his daughter, was buried July 9th, 1717, Aged 4. And also Mary, wife of Richard Hawker, died March ye 8th, 1760, in the 90th year of her age.