History of St. Luke's Church Frampton Mansell

Photo of St. Luke's Church Frampton Mansell

Patron: The Earl Bathhurst

Following his Grand Tour of Europe, the 4th. Earl Bathurst -1790-1866, built St.Luke's Church for the villagers of Frampton Mansell as a chapel of ease to save the walk to the Parish Church at Sapperton, some two miles away.

Architect: F.Parish.
Style:Neo-Norman conventicle church. The Hanoverian arched windows,normanised,are set between pilaster buttresses. The west front has an unequal triplet, and on the south side, is a tower with Norman bell-opening, corbels, and a sprocketed roof. Vaulted East Apse.

Features: The building has the appearance of one of the alpine churches of northern Italy; it sits, appropriately enough, on a hillside with views across the Golden Valley.


It has a Norman style door; a belfry with a wood shingle roof and an attractive rounded Apse - all roofed in natural
Cotswold stone tiles.

Once inside, one is immediately aware of uncluttered space and the wide isle. All of the windows are of stained glass;
those in the Apse, depict Christ in the centre, with,on either side the Apostles SS Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; each above their symbols of an angel, lion, calf, andeagle, carved on stone bosses.

Photo of the altar in St.Luke's Frampton Mansell

All the windows in the Nave are of geometric design - and of particular note is the triple west window where the afternoon sunlight has the effect of throwing a multi-coloured design onto the exceptionaly wide isle - much to the delight of bridal processions!

Amongst the altar linen are two frontals presented to the church by Countess Lilias Bathurst - wife of the 7th.Earl; The Festival frontal, worked by her Ladyship, is Jacobean in design and of pastel colours with gold thread:the second was given in memory of her daughter Meriel Graham; it is of red brocade and has a fine needlework panel depicting Mary and the infant Jesus.

1844: The Church was consecrated by *The Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, Bishop James Henry Monk, on Friday 25th.October. The newspaper account in the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Standard of 29th.October reads as follows:

Consecration on Friday; the bishop consecrated a beautiful church, built at the sole expence of the Earl Bathurst,
upon a site voluntarily given by Peter Playne, of the Box, Esq. ,at Frampton Mansell, a Tything, in the parish of
Sapperton, as a chapel of ease, for the inhabitants of that Tything, being nearly two miles distance from the
mother church. The service was read by the Rev.W.Pye,the rector and the sermon was preached by the Rev.T.Neve,rector of Poole Keynes. At Cinderford and Frampton Mansellthe Bishop was attended by great numbers of his clergy.

N.B.The Bishop had also consecrated St.John's Church at Cinderford on Wednesday 23rd of that week.

♦     During the years 1836 - 1897 the Diocese was combined with Bristol.

Further stories of note in the same newspaper that week were:

The Queen and Prince Albert opened the new Royal Exchange in London.

Coach accident: On Tuesday evening the 'Beaufort Hunt' coach was entering Cheltenham from Cirencester, the pole broke, and the horses became unmanageable, galloping down High Street at a furious rate. The coachman was thrown off,but did not sustain any material injury. The horses continued their career with increased speed until they arrived opposite Mr.Turnbull's when one of them came violently in contact with the lamp iron by which it's leg was broken and it was obliged to be killed. None of the passengers received any injury.

Twenty-nine individuals were committed for trial at Leamington, on Tuesday, charged with an attempt to take unlawful possesion of Stoneleigh Abbey, the seat of Lord Leigh. - one wonders what their grievance was !

Photo of the pulpit St. Luke Frampton Mansell

1844-1883 William Pye, M.A.
1884-1883 Hugh Taylor Cropper M.A.
1918-1921 Alured J. de D. Denne B.A.
1921-1932 Walter Pandy Davies
1932-1968 Arthur Naunton Ruck M.A.
1968-1974 George Tiley L.Th M.A.
1974-1975 Interregnum
1975-1977 Thomas Alfred Davison
1977 Robert Andrew Bowden MA

Photo of the font in St. Luke's Frampton Mansell

First Baptism 1844 December 18th William, son of William and Ann Selby.

First Marriage 1847 November 29th Richard Latham and Sarah Hobbes.

First Burial 1844 November 15th Sarah Moselder, aged 79 years.The census of 1851 lists 254 persons living in Frampton Mansell and, bearing in mind the number of houses which
were in existance at that time, the family groups were certainly living in cramped conditions. Of the numbers ofsurnames recorded in the census only one, Phelps, is recorded on the 1994 electoral roll.
The most popular christian name for girls was Ann (12) followed by Mary Ann (11) and Hannah (7) for the boys,
William (20) John (13) and Thomas (13). Of the unusual christian names were Asenath, Virtue and Jepe.

The Friends of St. Luke

In 1979, due to lack of use and the fact that there was a great deal of general decay of the fabric, proposals were
in hand to have the church made redundant. At a village meeting, called by the Rector The Revd.Andrew Bowden and chaired by the Rural Dean The Revd.W.(Bill) Woodhouse, it was established that the PCC was not in a financial position to carry out the necessary repairs to enable the Church to be kept open.Following the meeting, a group of villagers agreed to form a new charity called The Friends of St.Luke; with the aim of raising sufficient funds to save the church from redundancy. This meant installing a complete new roof in natural Cotswold stone and a new solid floor on the south side of the Nave. Various windows needed attention and all the interior walls were in need of decoration. Fund raising events were planned, these included an annualvillage fete, barbeques, jumble sales, cream teas, together with raffles and other events. Assistance was also given by a number of charities and Trusts, together with grants from the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust and English Heritage. In recent years, generous donations have been received, which have enabled a re-decoration programme to be completedand for the installation of heating and a new sound system.

St.Lukes Perpetual Fabric Fund

During the renovation period, the detached vestry building was sold, together with a small parcel of land, under an
Order In Council, signed by H.M.The Queen at Windsor on 10th April 1983.The Order had the effect of setting up The St.Luke's, Frampton Mansell, Perpetual Fabric Fund Trust; this enabled the capital sum raised by the sale to be preserved in perpetuity and for the interest on that capital to be used for the future maintainance of the Church fabric. The Order in Council also had the effect of re-naming the parish of Sapperton to Sapperton with Frampton Mansell.


Following completion of the major structual work, the Church was re-dedicated at an Evensong Service, on Sunday 13th. May1984, during which the Archdeacon of Cheltenham The Very Revd Eric Evans - also a 'Friend of St.Luke' preached the sermon.

Historical notes

Frampton Mansell appears in the Domesday book and is shown under the land held by Robert of Tosny in Glowecscire -Gloucestershire as follows:

 In Bisley hundred Robert also holds Sapperton and Frampton (Mansell). 5 hides in one and 5 hides in the other. Vlf (3rd son of King Harold - defeated at Hastings) held them. In lordship 7 ploughs;l7 villagers and 9 smallholders with 10 ploughs. 13 slaves; 2 mills at 6s; woodland (Frampton Common) 12 league long and2 furlongs wide. Value of these two manors together before 1066 £14 now £16. '

In the reign of King Edward III the following were show as eligible to pay taxes in 1327:

Willo Maunsel iiii s
Willo Port ii s
Henr Michel xx d
Alic atte Steerte xviii d
Rico de Chirinton xxii d
Margar Maunsel xviii d
Henr Bletz xv d
Johe Pethet xii d
Pho Stouke xviii d

s represents shillings and d pence.

N.B Could it be that Rico de Chirinton was in today's terms Richard of Cherrington?

In 1759 a hoard of Roman coins was found at Frampton Mansell: details of which are described in Samuel Rudder's   A New History Of Gloucestershire' 1775.


The village of Frampton Mansell is situated in the south Cotswolds on the south side of the Golden Valley through which runs the River Frome, the Severn/Thames Canal and the main railway line from London to Gloucester. The land rises steeply to some 500 ft.within the confines of the village boundaries - and this rise in altitude is therefore reflected in the very steep inclines found in the lanes radiating from St. Luke's Church, which stands in a prominent position in the centre of the village. If one stands at the top of the upper steps leading down to the church, one can look through thebell openings of the tower, out across the valley beyond.

The village buildings dating from before the mid 1900's are all built of local Cotswold Limestone and a good proportion are roofed with Cotswold stone tiles.

The oldest b~ilding is said to be Lower Manor, close by the railway viaduct - of the William and Mary period 1689-94,
although The Crown Inn bears the date 1666. It is also said that a section of Frampton Place - once called Twissell's
Farm, which now lies outside the current Parish boundary, is 13th.century. Twissell's Mill (Bakers Mill) 17th.c. was the
last of the cloth mills on the River Frome.

The village seems to have changed very little over the years leading up to the 1939-45 War, when a new airfield
was built to accomodate new aircraft being finally fitted out before being delivered to their new squadrons; this also entailed a re-routing of the A419 road to accommodate the new runway. Building in the village was no longer of natural stone and it was not until recently that the traditional natural materials were insisted upon.

The Thames/Severn Canal

Proposals to build a navigable waterway between the rivers Severn and Thames were first put before Parliament in the
reign of Charles 11. It's need was recognised as an alternative to the existing road system, which often became
impassable during the long winter months and also as an alternative to the dangerous sea route around Lands End and the south coast. It was later in the 18thc, during 1722, that Lord Bathurst discussed the joining of the two rivers on his estate with Alexander Pope, the poet, and it was John Hore of Newbury, who proposed plans for a cutting instead of adapting the existing River Frome - a very necessary source of water supply to power the existing mills in the valley.The first stone was laid to the entrance lock at Framilode in1775 thus begining the the work on the Stroudwater section.It took another Act of Parliament in the reign of George III to authorise:

'for the making and maintaining a Navigable Canal from the River Thames, or Issis, at or near Leachlade,to join and communicate with the Stroudwater Canal at
Wallbridge, near the town of Stroud; and also a collateral cut from the said canal at or near
Siddington, to or near the Town of Cirencester, in the counties of Gloucester and Wilts' The new company Thames and Severn Canal was formed and it's
Company seal shows Father Thames and Madam Sabrina seated in
a cavern below a hill (the proposed Sapperton Tunnel).

In 1783 Robert Witworth produced a new map at the scale of 1" to 1 mile, which still exists today, marking the line of the new tunnel and the Company set about purchasing the land.
The price paid was based on the existing rent over a period of some 30 years; on average this was some £1.10 shillings per acre per year.

The actual building of the canal was carried out by a number of gangs, of up to 70 men made up of masons, miners, cutters and labourers, all under a gang leader. There were 28 locks through the Golden Valley, rising some 241 feet in 7 miles, passing under Whitehall Bridge,bearing the date stone 1784. The Company House was built at Danewayin 1784 and later became The Bricklayers Arms. The name then changed to it's present one of the Daneway Inn. The road leading up to the village of Sapperton was built by the Company to enable coal to be taken up to Cirencester.The major construction work however was still to come, that of cutting Sapperton Tunnel. This was to be 15ft.widej15ft. high and 3,817 yards long. Twenty-five shafts were used to reach the site of the tunnel and all the earth and rock,
which had been blasted and cut to form the tunnel had to be man-handled by buckets and barrels to the surface by
winding gear; the spoil taken from the workings being used to build large mounds on the surface by Sapperton village,
on which were planted Beech trees. From the western (Sapperton) end, the first 580 yards had to be lined with brick and stone; the next 930 yards unsupported rock, some of which had large fissures which had to be closed by 160 oak doors; the remaining section of some 2,300 yards needed walling and arching. In 1788 the tunnel was nearing completion, and in the same year King George III,whilst visiting The Earl Bathurst,inspected the tunnel entrance at it's western end. But it was not until a year later that the canal was flooded to enable the first boat to complete the full journey throughout it's entire length.This was shortly followed by four barges loaded with coal destined for Cirencester and had the immediate effect ofreducing the price of coal from 24 shillings to 18 shillings per ton.
It was not until November 1789 that the joining of the canal at Inglesham lock with the River Thames was completed and this was greeted by a large crowd and the firing off of cannons at Buscot Park.

The Times reported the completion of the canal as'the grandest object ever attained by inland navigation'.

Sadly, much of the canal structure throughout the Golden Valley has fallen into decay and almost disappeared in
undergrowth and it was officialy abandoned in 1954.The Whitehall Bridge still stands and the position of the
locks can be seen from the old towpath, now designated as a Public Right Of Way.The basin at Daneway is now a car park and the keeper's cottage at the tunnel's western entrance, was demolished some years ago as unsafe. The reservoir at Baker's Mill (Twissell's Mill) is still there and is said to have contained over 3 1/4 million gallons of water to
feed the lock system. Water was always a problem in this stretch of the canal and pumping stations could not adequately replenish it's loss to maintain the levels required for continuous use.This, together with the coming of the railway in 1845, forecast the end of the canal's viability Having reached it's peak in 1841, with an income from dues of some £11,300; brought about by the increase in trade and helping to bring about it's own demise, in carrying materials
for the new railway; there followed a sharp fall in income to £7,804 when the rail link to Gloucester was completed.

Railway through the Valley

The Act for the Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway was obtained in 1836. This was only three years after the first prospectus for the Great Western Railway was issued. The timing indicated the keenness of thepeople of the Frome valley, supported by the inhabitants of Cheltenham and Gloucester, to be connected by rail to London.The line from Swindon to Kemble, and then on to Cirencester, was opened in May 1841. Squire Gordon of Kemble House did not want his property defiled by a railway passing through it - but was "bought-off" by apayment of £7500 on top of the price of his land. Lord Bathurst was in favour of the railway, and charged only £200 per acre for his land. The Rev. T Neve of Pool Keynes was concerned about the possibility of the neighbourhood being "filled once a fortnight with the
riots of intoxicated parties, fightings, depredations and all sorts of violence" while the navvies were constructing the line.

Although Cheltenham residents wanted a train service to London, they were not happy about the proposed "great way
round" via Gloucester, Stroud and Swindon. There was thus much less financial support from Cheltenham (and also
Gloucester) than expected.

Brunel surveyed a route which had no severe gradients, apart from a short stretch at Chalford where the valleyis narrow. By the end of 1841 shafts had been cut and headings driven for the tunnel at Sapperton.However, the financial position became so serious that the GWR took over the Union Railway. Two tunnels were then bored 45 to 90 feet above the original headings, at a considerable saving in cost, the combined length being shorter by about one third of a mile. This resulted in the ruling gradient being increased from 1 in 330 to 1 in 60.

By summer 1844 the stretch of line from Stonehouse to Sapperton Tunnel was two thirds completed and ballasted,
but the tunnel itself was unfinished and the contractors were working night and day. The tunnel was completed in
February·1845. It is fascinating to think that St Luke's was being built at the same time as work both on theline and in the tunnel was progressing. It would have been a noisy valley in 1844!

The railway (built to a broad gauge of 7') was opened to Gloucester in May 1845, but Cheltenham was not reached
until October 1847. The fastest time to Padd i.nq t.on in 1848 was two hours forty-seven minutes (using the Gloucester avoiding line) .A steam train travelling up the Frome valley towards Sapperton Tunnel might maintain 30 mph on the gradient of1 in 60. The same train would probably be capable of 60 mph on 1 in 330 a rather different operating
proposition! The line also has to hug the side slope of the valley by means of a series of reverse curves.

Brimscombe became the home for expensive assistingengines, banking freight trains, but piloting (on the front) passenger trains. One wonders what cost savingthere would have been had the original route been maintained. The first passenger engines on the line were"single wheelers" with the 2-2-2 wheel arrangement (similar to the illustration), while the goods trains were handled by 0-6-0's.

The Frampton Mansell viaduct (12 spans of 30') was originally built in wood. Apparently this was encased in brick when it began to deteriorate. Our steeply inclined occupation bridge is said to have three different names.Jackdaw Bridge if you live in Chalford, westley Bridge to the inhabitants of Frampton Mansell and Skew Bridge as seen from Oakridge. There was a signal box at Frampton Crossing No 1 in 1884 which was removed many years ago,but the one at Crossing No 2 (with its 8 levers) lasted until September 1965.

It is said that Queen Victoria coined the name "Golden Valley" on one of her Autumn trips along the line, but this does not appear to have been authenticated.

On the fourth of October 1843 George Dratsy was in Sapperton Tunnel cleaning a hole in which gunpowder had been placed. It exploded causing him to lose an eye. Although there are records of fatal injuries during the line construction, these do not appear to have been as numerous as with many similar contemporary projects.

On the eighth of September 1851 an excursion train left Cheltenham for London in connection with the Great Exhibition. It consisted of 12 coaches (4 wheeled). 8 more were added at Gloucester, and a further 3 at Stroud.By this time there were around 1200 passenger on board. More joined at Brimscornbe, where the pilot engine wasattached at the front. When the train left Sapperton Tunnel the driver found he had lost half his coaches. Thedriver of the following mail train (Harry wilkinson) sawthese coaches coming towards him. He threw his locomotive
into reverse and managed to "catch" the coaches on his buffers, with only a minor jerk! Some passengers suffered
severe bruising due to jumping out when they saw the mail train coming towards them. It would be interesting to know exactly where the "buffering" occurred. It cannot have been far from Frampton Mansell. Thanksgiving
services were held throughout the area on the following Sunday - presumably there was one at St Luke's?
Special trains are still occasionally hauled by steam.

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Photos © Elaine Kemp


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