Parish of St Mary and Corpus Christi, Down Hatherley (includes churchyard at St Matthew’s Twigworth)
Churchwardens: Andy Nicol 01452 730025 Ellie Stevenson 01452 739142 Church postcode: GL2 9QB
Down Hatherley Church is now open again, every day. The PCC have prepared a risk assessment to follow pre-opening and each time the church is open.
We’re pleased to welcome new faces, as well as regulars, to any of our services.
Location and Setting
Down Hatherley is centrally located between Gloucester (circa 4 miles), Cheltenham (circa 6 miles) and Tewkesbury (circa 8 miles). The village population is roughly 400 but new housing in the adjoining areas will have a big impact on the area the church serves and we hope we continue to be popular for weddings and baptisms from much further afield. The church is situated mid-way along Down Hatherley Lane, which is a well used road linking the main A38 Gloucester to Tewkesbury road and the B4063 Old Cheltenham Road which runs between Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Down Hatherley is an ancient village, mentioned as Athelai in the Domesday Book. Records of religious activity suggest that there were early churches here with evidence of a “chaplain” in Down Hatherley as early as 1222.
The present church is the second to have been built on this site. The tower and base of the east wall of the chancel remain from the original 15th century church, but most of the present church dates from the Victorian rebuild of 1859-60.
Description and Particular Items of Significance
The family of Sir Matthew Wood, financed the rebuilding of the main body of the present church, in Early Decorated style. The architect was F. S. Waller, from Gloucester 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.
The chancel has a hammer beam roof with arch-braced collars and carved corbels. It includes a four bay northern arcade with capitals ornamented with carved foliage. The north side also includes the vestry, further extended in 1929, and a partly timbered porch to the main door. The stone carving was undertaken by Purdy of London and the encaustic floor tiles are by Godwin.
The original 15th century two stage bell tower is late Perpendicular faced in ashlar. It has gargoyles under the battlements and a sundial on the south side. There is a three light west window above the Tudor arched doorway. Inside the tower on the north wall hang four stone memorial tablets, commemorating local families and dating from 1642 to 1842. There are 37 close spiral 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”.
The bell founder was Abraham Rudhall (the “AR” in the above inscription), whose foundry was on Westgate Street in Gloucester.
The stained glass windows in the chancel, dated 1860, were made by O’Connor and are dedicated to the Maddy family. The memorial windows in the north aisle based on the Arthurian legend, feature a Captain killed in action at Ypres in 1915. They were commissioned by the late Captain’s fiancé and sister who was married to the vicar of the time.
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 traditional pipe organ built by Jackson of Oxford in 1924, was provided as a bequest of Francis Jones esq. It was extensively restored by Tony Cawston in 1999.
Our church has been selected among 30 churches across the nation as one of “The Nation’s Favourite Churches”, a published book by Andrew Barr, associated with BBC Songs of Praise.
Down Hatherley church is rich in history and a sell-out event celebrating the church’s links with the American Declaration of Independence featured in the Gloucester History Festival 2017,
You can find out more about Down Hatherley village here:
An application has been made to reserve a grave space in the church yard of St Matthew’s Church, Twigworth. Full details can be viewed here.
Closure of St Matthew’s Twigworth and changes to parish boundaries. Click here for details