Feed on

Church history


The Church

Rectors of St Bartholomew’s, Redmarley D’Abitot

Architectural observations

The Advowson deeds

The Elizabethan Communion Cup

St Bartholomew’s church

There has been a church in Redmarley since at least the 13th century and part of the tower dates from that time; but the majority of the building goes back only to 1855 when most of the then existing building was in serious disrepair, was demolished and rebuilt (though there remain some interesting artefacts from earlier times). There are six bells, which are rung by a local team on a regular basis. The single manual pipe organ was installed in 1864. The composer Edward Elgar was a frequent visitor and married a Redmarley girl.

Extensive repairs to the roof were completed in early 2010 and major repairs to make the tower safe were completetd in 2022.

A church history, thought to have been written by Graham Hale, a churchwarden, can be read here.

Architectural observations

Parish church. Exterior: Medieval base to tower; 1738 upper part tower; rest of church 1855 by Francis Niblett. Tower squared, coursed stone approaching ashlar: remainder coursed, squared, nearly rock-faced stone, with lighter ashlar dressings: tiled roof. West tower, nave, north aisle, chancel, north vestry, south porch. Three stage tower: west face plinth, diagonal corner buttresses, rising full height, upper parts slight projection only. Two-light, Y-tracery window, ovolo moulded (1738) in cavetto surround: small, flat-headed lancet second stage, 2-light, Y-tracery window with louvres top stage, square recess and moulding. Moulded strings between stages and above third, crenellated battlements, bases at corners for diagonally-set pinnacles, since removed. South face: tower as west but bottom stage plain, marks from sharpening arrows in plinth. Nave: diagonal corner buttress, gabled top: short parapet gable to tower. Two-light Decorated tracery window, hoodmould, head stops. Boarded door in arched, moulded surround, under timber-framed porch on low stone walls: gable opening with pierced spandrels, reticulated tracery to side lights, boarded gable, shaped bargeboards. Two 3-light reticulated tracery windows each side. Roof alternating 2 rows plain, 2 rows fish-scale tiles. To right similar window as left of porch, square-set buttress, further 2-light window (tracery different in each), diagonal corner buttress. Parapet gable, base for cross at apex. Chancel, plinth, 2 lancets each side of a boarded door up one stone step, decorative hinges, shouldered arch, hoodmould. Crested ridge tiles. East end, plinth, diagonal corner buttresses to chancel; 3 stepped lancets, parapet gable with floriate cross on cross-gablet apex. Vestry gable set back on right, boarded door on left under arched head with hoodmould. Two-light window, reticulated tracery, flat head, hoodmould with leaf stops. Diagonal corner buttress. Parapet gable, cross-gablet chimney outlet on apex, trefoil openings in gables. Aisle gable behind, spherical triangle in top, foiled, with hoodmould in parapet gable. Square-set gabled buttress.
Interior: nave plastered, 3-bay arcade, moulded capitals and bases, hoodmould with head stops at ends only: no clerestory. Plain arch to chancel, moulded top only. Exposed rafters, arch-braced collar trusses, foiling in spandrels and top, rising from corbels with ballflower decoration: half trusses with collars only. North aisle roof as nave but simpler: plain east end. Chancel, sill to east window on south taken down as sedilia: east end 3 lancets with hoodmoulds and corner columns, blind tracery each side. Pointed boarded vault, in panels. Painted stone pulpit, blind tracery to sides, corbelled off head near floor level. Octagonal stone font with blind tracery, on stem. Communion rails early C18 with return ends: turned balusters. Pews good C19, blind Gothic tracery to ends. Thirteen late C18, early C19 wall monuments, 1609 brass on strapwork background, two fine monuments on west end nave. Hatchment and benefactions board in tower, also 1704 headstone and 1757 chest. Forms group with Church House, The Inn House and Old Cottage (q.v.).
(D. Verey, Gloucestershire, The Vale and the Forest of Dean, 1970.)

The Advowson of Redmarley D’Abitot

An “advowson” was the right to appoint a person as Rector of a Church of England living, giving the appointee an income and a rectory to live in, usually for life. The descent of the Redmarley Advowson can be traced in this article.  To see transcriptions of the deeds click here.

The Elizabethan Communion Cup

St Bartholomew’s Church possesses an interesting silver Communion cup and cover on the top of which is inscribed the date 1571. There is no “proper” hallmark visible – but this is not uncommon.
The date becomes significant when we note that in February 1570 Pope Pius V issued the papal bull “Regnans in excelsis” by which he excommunicated Elizabeth I and for good measure called upon all Catholics to oppose her and bring about her downfall – by assassination if need be. This souring of relations had been brewing for many years. Elizabeth had always been regarded as illegitimate and a usurper of the throne; the Papacy favouring the claims of Mary Queen of Scots. More particularly, Elizabeth’s continued persistence in promoting Protestantism was seen by the Pope as a personal affront, and worse, as an act of flagrant heresy.
When the papal bull reached London in April, Elizabeth was equally affronted. Her furious response was to increase her persecution of the many recusants still practising their Catholic faith, despite the stipulations of the Act of Uniformity of 1559. Up until now she had “turned a blind eye” to many of these irregularities. This leniency was now at an end. Elizabeth was goaded into still more action; articles of church plate attracted her attention as being in need of drastic “reform”. She decreed that every church should surrender all the silver chalices and other artifacts which had been used in celebrating Mass during the brief reign of her Catholic predecessor Mary I (“Bloody Mary“). The articles were to be melted down by local silversmiths and recast into larger Communion cups deemed more appropriate for Protestant worship, in which the laity as well as the clergy were to receive the wine. The diocesan bishops were made responsible for this “exchange“. In “The Plate of Bunbury (Cheshire) Church” by Sir Leonard Stone (1955) – [internet version] – we learn that while the dates of the substitution varied from diocese to diocese, “most Worcestershire churches (including presumably Redmarley) acquired their new Communion cups in 1571“. .
It is perhaps worth mentioning in passing the long-standing “legend” that the “chalice” may have been “a gift from the Queen when she stayed overnight in the Parish”. Sadly this “legend” is devoid of substance. During her summer “Progresses” Elizabeth visited Gloucester on 8th August 1574 and Worcester on 13th August 1575, but research shows that it is virtually impossible that a visit to Redmarley could have been fitted into the royal schedule on either of these occasions. In fact, she never seems to have travelled anywhere along the west bank of the Severn. (As a final point of interest, her Progress in 1571 took place far away – in Essex and the south-eastern counties.) – Eric Smith, March 2005

Back to top