Early Origin of the Church


Whittington Church is of great age. The Manor was in exisitence before the Norman Conquest, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. There are several indications of the church's early norman origin, and it is not unlikely that at one time its narrow South Aisle and Norman Arch formed part of the Chapel of a much older castle or fortified manor whcih stood on the site of the present Court.

Reference to the Chapel in Old Records


Some visitors may be interested to know that in the reign of Henry III (1216), a market, fair and free-warren were granted to Richard de Crupes of Whittington, who according to many accounts did much for the benefit of the village. Not long afterwards it is noted that Whittington is referred to as a town, and we read that in the reign of Edward I one of the same family "died seized of the town of Whitenton".

In due course, the celebrated Earl of Warwick purchased the Manor - doubtless with the chapel adjoining, and at his death bequeathed it to his daughter, who married George, Duke of Clarence.

In the reign of Henry VII it was the property of Ann, the Countess of Warwick, who sold it to that monarch. At the general seizure which preceded the Reformation it became the property of the crown. Henry VIII granted the manor and advowson to Thomas Stroud, who afterwards obtained the King's permission to sell it to Richard Cotton.

Those to whom past history has an appeal will read with interest such details as that Atkyns in his "History of Gloucestershire" states:

"Osgot held Witetune in Wacrescumb (Winchcombe), in the Reign of King Edward the Confessor; William Lucie (?Leuric) held it in the Reign of King Williwm the Conqueror."

This Manor and Chapel therefore existed in Saxon times before the Conquest.

Students of Oakley Training College, Cheltenham, recently made a search in Gloucester Library and Museum for early records of local interest. Some of the following extracts from Gloucestershire Pipe Rolls, Hockaday Abstracts, etc. are quoted as they relate to Whittington Church.

1269. Licence to Walter de Chiltham, clerk, rector of the Church of Ameneye Blessed Mary, to hold the church of Wyntinton being presented thereto by Sir Richard de Coupes, the patron.
1282. Inquisition 10 Edward I. "Permission given to William de Crupe to give land to the Abbot and monks of Wynchecombe."
1296-1297. Protective for Walter of Cheltenham parson of the churches of Whytinton and Amneye (?Ampney) (Cal. Pat: Rolls. 25 Edward I).
1306. Institution of John de la Hutte of Welseley, clerk, to the Church of Wyitynton, vacant by the death of Walter of Chiltenham, last rector and granted in commendam to William de la Mare, Priest, on the presentation of Richard de Coupes, knight.
1310. Richard de Croupes (beacuse of good service to the King) had licence to make a settlement for the manor of Whittington, to hold himself for life with remainders to his son Richard and his right heirs (Cal. Pat. Rolls 1307-1313).
1318. Maurice de Merston admited to the benefice of the chapelry of Whittington - patron Richard de Groupens.
1327. Walter de Bradeleye admitted to the benefice of the chapelry of Whittington- patron Richard de Croupes.
1375. May 20. To make inquisition in the country of Glos. touching those who came armed to Whytyngton, took away 3 oxen and a cow, worth 4 marks of William Walley, Walter Bout and Robert Hammond, tenents of John, King of Castile, etc. etc. and carried away their goods.
1420. After passing through the hands of Edmond de Langley, Son of Duke of York, and fifth Son of King Edward the Third, who was killed at Agincourt, the Manor came into the hands of Richard le Despencer Earl of Gloster.
1519. Will of George Cotton dated 6.11.1518: "I bequethe.......to my son Richard, my ferme and terme of the manor of Whytyngton......"
1525. Will of Thomas Bushe of Northleche: "To the churches of Blunsdon, Whitngton and Holywell 6s. 8d. each. To my son Thomas the frems at Whitngton and Holywell."

The Crusader Tombs

 

Turning to the left at the Font, i.e. to the altar in the east, there will be seen near the pulpit, in the north wall, an archway about 3 feet high and 6 feet long. This probably formed the covering to an old tomb. On the right, in the transept will be seen what some think to be the most interesting feature of the church - three life-size effigies in local stone. One of these represents a lady clad in wimple and gown, while to other two are of knights in armour. Each exhibits the hauberk, chain mail, and long surcoad, with right hand on the sword, with legs crossed in the conventional manor.

 

There are two crusader tombs in the south aisle, Sir Richard de Croupes who died in 1278, and his son anther Sir Richard who died in 1326, both Lords of the Manor of Whittington. Both are wearing surcoats and holding a sword and shield. Their legs are crossed and rest on a lion. Close by them is a lady, being contemporary, who may possibly represent Lady de Croupes in a long flowing dress and a wimple.  It is said that for some 200 years this family evidently loved and strove for the welfar of the Whittington folk.

 

For more images please see the gallery.

Whittington Church Layout / Plan

 

 

 

The Belfy and General Layout

As Arthur Mee has written in his "The King's England": "Together they stand, the great house and God's house, in company with a 14th century Cross, a grand old yew tree, and the Moat which protected them both."

 

The belfry is a pitcuresque wooden campanile containing a single bell which is rung from the centre of the church. The plan of the church consists of chancel, nave and north proch, and a south Aisle which widens so as to form a commodious chapel. In the chancel are 14th century features, but the south chapel is an addition dating from the 17th to 18th centuries. The outer porch is modern, excepting perhaps for the threshold stone, but inside is a later Norman or Perpendicualr doorway with a heavy lintel and characteristic arch.

 

On entering through this north porch, on the right will be seen the west wall of the nave, which stands only a few feet from the Tudor Manor House beside it. It has a blocked up doorway with foliated spandrels and traces of a window inserted at some time to light the former western gallery.

The Font and Arches

The font, near the north porch, is dated about 1300 and has a plain octagonal bowl and pedestal. The interior of the church has been sadly modernised and during a fairly recent restoration it seems that a rood screen, which marked the limits of the nave in the absence of a chancel arch, has been lost.

 

Facing one on entering the north porch are the two western arches, which are ancient; one of good Perpendicular work including a bracket showing a well preserved delineation of the hennin, or horned headdress of the 15th century. Beside the horned headdress referred to, there is a corbel carved with the head of a man. The other arch is Norman and, as mentioned, this Aisle is extremely narrow, having at its western end traces of an old doorway or window containing, some have said, indications of Saxon stonework.

The Chancel

 

The oak panelling of the sanctury is said to have been made from the old pews of Sevenhampton Church. Above the panelling in the north wall there is a square almory, but there is no sign of a piscina. On the south side of the altar below an interesting rectangular window is a carved stone panel of three trefolied arches containing shields, charges with devices similar to those on the knightly effigies.

Richard Cotton's Brasses

In the Parish Registers of Whittington are the following entries: -

 

    "(1555) Richard Cotton, Lord and Patron of the p'ishe of Whittington was buried the 17th day of May. Mrs Margarett Cotton, the wief of Mr. Richard Cotton, Esquire, was buried the 9th day of April, 1559".

 

King Henry VIII, in the 36th year of his reign, granted the Manor and Advowson of Whittington to Thomas Stroud, who alienated it to Richard Cotton (Patent, 36 Henry VIII). The Carter granting the Manor and Advowson of Whittington to Thomas Stroud is in the possession of Mrs. Evans-Lawrence owner of the Court.

 

Just outside the sanctury rails lies the monumental brass of Richard Coton, or Cotton, a memorial of considerable local interest, for it was he who built the adjoingin mansion, more or less as we see it now. According to Arthur Mee, the tale is told that the Court was left unfinished beacuse Richard Cotton was killed in a duel. Of the three vacant matrices of this stone, one obviously contained a sheild, and the others represented children, one an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. The surviving brass depicts a man in civilian attire and his wife, with the inscription:

 

    "Here lyeth the boddyes of Richard Coton Esquire and Margaret Coton he wief. He deceased the nine and twentyth daye of Maye in the thyrd and fowrth yeare of the reyhne of Kinge Phillypp and Queene Marye anno domini 1556, and the sayd Margaret deceased the daye of Maye in the fyrst yeare of the reygne of our severaigne Ladye Queene Elizabeth anno domini 1560".

 

This mention of King Phillip and Queen Mary is worthy of special note.

 

On examining the brass it will be seen that the gown depicted reaches to the ankles, not girded, but thrown open in front. The arms pass through openings in the sides of the gown with very short sleeves over the arm, but with long stripes pendant from behind the openings. The top of the gown is not turned down, but stands up round his neck. Of his doublet is seen a portion of the row of buttons down the front, and above it is a neat frill encircling the throat. Low shoes complete the visible portion of his attire.

 

Margaret Cotton wears a modified form of kennel or pedimental headdress, the outward casing of which is still cumbrous and stiff, but it is relieved by a caul or frill-work over the forehead. The large frontal lappets have vanished, and instead the sides of the headress turn up at the ends, so that this shape was fast merging into a bonnet. The top of her gown stands up round her neck something after the fashion of her husband's gown, and above it a small frill shows itself. The sleeves only reach as far as the elbows, where they hang down. Her forearms are covered with sleeves, generally richly adorned, but here represented plain, and puffed beneath, whilst at the waist are small frills. Her gown is confined at the waist by a sash tied in a bow in front. The tips of her shoes just emerge from beneath her dress, and it may be noticed that both husband and wife wear shoes with thick soles.

 

The figures are standing erect with hands in a prayerful attitude, the husband has his wife on his left hand, and they are both slightly turned to face each other.

The Vestry and Chevron Moulding

The varied floor level is worthy of note, and it will be found that the Vestry floor is much lower than that of the present chancel. It probably marks the original floor level of the chapel.

 

There is nothing of particular not in the vestry, excepting that the plate included a chalice, two patterns and a tankard flagon, all dated 1783, which have sadly now been stolen.

 

Those interested in masonary should examine the outside of the western wall of the vestry, for here, built somewhat crudely into the wall and forming a semi-circle are parts of a chevron moulding evidently Norman. Whether or not these stones once formed the arch by which the occupants of the adjoining Manor entered the western wall end of the narrow aisle cannot be said, but certainly it seems possible. They may, however, have formed part of a South Porch in use before the South Chancel was built.

The Churchyard

Recent gardening and tidying of the churchyard has uncovered a number of previously forgotton graves.  The oldest dates back to [           ] being a tomb named for the family "Arkell".   Old plans of the north and south ends are below and HERE.  Further graves are found on a smaller site across the road, toward Whittington and are accessible via a small wooden gate.

An Arkell grave dated [        ]

The dedication of this little church, sheltering under the adjoining Whittington Court, is uncertain, but the fact that it is not infequently referred to as Saint Bartholomew's, suggests some reason for its connection with that Saint.

The position is, that after the Restoration of the Monarchy in the person of Charles II - 1660, the Act of Uniformity was re-enacted in 1662. By that Act, not only was the use of the Prayer Book enforced in Public worship, but an unfeigned consent and asset was demanded of every Church Minister to all contained in that Book; Saint Bartholomew's Day - August 24th - was fixed as the last day for compliance with the Act's requirments. As a consequence, nearly 2000 Rectors and Vicars, or one-fifth of the English Clergy, refused to comply, and forfeited their Livings.

The then Rector of Whittington, Dr. Ingram (1629-1670) however, complied with the requirments of Saint Bartholomew's Day, and remained. It is possible that in consequence, the Church became named Saint Bartholomew's.

Originally, the church was a Norman structure, possibly following an earlier Saxon one, which has been added to from time to time as seen by the specimens of Early English Decorated and Perpendicular architecture. This website contains a more detailed account of the Church for which description we are idebted to the Archetectural eye and diligent research of Mr. Kenneth Young, living in part of the Court.

Saint Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ who was martyred in the 1st century AD.  He was introduced to Christ through Saint Philip and is also known as "Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee," notably in John's Gospel. Saint Bartholomew is credited with many miracles related to the weight of objects. His was martyred in Armenia, being either decapitated or skinned alive.

C. T. F. Field, Rector, 1947-69

Whittington Press

Immediately beside the manor house is Whittington Press, one of the most prestigious traditional hand-printing presses in the world. Whittington Press occupies the Court's former gardener's cottage. It was launched in 1971, using a vintage 1848 Columbian hand-press to produce limited edition works. The Press has received numerous awards for its printing, and publishes a famous annual review of book arts called Matrix. The Press has an annual open day if you want to know more.

They have, with wood engraver Miriam Macgregor, published a gorgeous illustrated book on Whittington Church which can be purchased here:

http://www.theloneoakpress.com/books/whittington-cotswold-church.html

Whittington Roman Villa

In 2001 the popular television series Time Team launched a 3-day dig in Waltham Field, about 600 metres north west of the manor house, searching for evidence of Roman occupation. The team opened 9 trenches and performed a complete geophysical survey of the site. What they found was a complex array of Iron Age and Roman ditches, trackways, and foundation walls showing a range of buildings erected around a central courtyard. More foundations were uncovered in neighbouring fields, including a possible shrine and an oven. The entire complex was surrounded by a wide rectangular ditch, and a narrower enclosure ditch dating to the Iron Age.

 

The following document contains plan, photos and further information - "Whittington Court Roman Villa, Glos.: A Report of the Excavations undertaken from 1948 to 1951" written by Helen E O'Neil published in 1952.

 

​Whittington Court

http://www.hha.org.uk/Property/431/Whittington-Court

The manor of Whittington Court goes back to at least the early 14th century, when Richard de Croupes was granted a license to crenellate the manor here. The first house was surrounded by a moat, of which you can still see traces. The current house was begun by Richard Cotton sometime prior to 1556. You can see Cotton's memorial brass in St Bartholomew's church, beside the house he built.

The Court was altered in the late 17th century and a further kitchen wing was added in 1929. The construction is ashlar beneath a stone slate roof.

The house is composed of a central range (the old 16th century part of the house) with the 17th century east wing and 20th century west kitchen wings at right angles. The oldest part of the house stands three storeys high, while the east wing is two storeys.
 

When Thomas Tracey died in 1770 he left no will and no immediate heirs. After a complex legal case that took 7 years, the house was inherited by a trio of London sisters. In a twist of fate the sisters also died without heirs, and once again the inheritance was argued through a complex legal case, with several claimants. After another 7 years of wrangling the estate passed to Walter Morris, and from him to the Lawrence family.

The current owners are the the Stringers.