A brief history…
Watch our film about the history of St Michael and All Angels narrated by Tim Bridges – Church Buildings Officer at the Diocese of Hereford.
A copy of our history leaflet can be downloaded here:
St Michael’s is a good example of a small Norman village church with a nave and chancel (Grade II*). Parts of the original Norman building still remain, including the fine south doorway, some of the masonry in the chancel arch and a rare Norman pillar piscina.
A porch and a churchyard cross were added in the 14th century and the chancel arch and many of the windows were remodel at this time.
The font also survives from the 15th century, as do some memorials within the church and the timber bell tower dates from c. 1686 – the three bells are by Evans of Chepstow and date from 1764.
The church underwent further changes in Victorian times, including by architect George Frederick Bodley (c. 1857) and The North Chapel was added for the rector’s family in 1863.
The interior of the church, as we see it today, dates mainly from the restoration by the architect William Douglas Caröe in 1907-8 and includes the fine oak interior furnishings, complemented by attractive features such as a variety of stained glass and memorial tablets. Caröe’s restoration returned the church to its pre-Victorian appearance.
The church was closed the public in 2008 for safety reasons, but major works took place in 2018 – following the 10 years of closure – including extensive repairs to the roof and a drainage scheme in order to bring the building back into community use.
Our recent repair work…
Listen to the our builders, Splitlath, and our conservation architect from RRA Architects talk about some of the work that has been undertaken to bring this historic building back into community use…
More detailed history…
St Michael’s and All Angels Church is situated on the edge of the village of Brampton Abbotts and in a beautiful hilltop setting, offering fine views from the churchyard towards Ross and the Forest of Dean.
The village, originally Brampton, gained the Abbotts part of its named when the manor was granted to St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester (now Cathedral) by William I and the church was a chapelry of Ross until a separate parish was created in 1671.
The church itself (Grade II*) is a good example of a small Norman village church with a nave and chancel. The fine south doorway dates from this period and the chancel arch also includes Norman masonry – but it was given a more fashionable pointed arch in the 14th century.
14th century onwards…
A timber porch was added in the 14th century, and most of the windows enlarged to their present form. A cross was also erected in the churchyard and the steps with a niche are 14th century – though the monument itself was given a new shaft and head in about 1900 (grade II and a scheduled ancient monument).
Inside the church, the font is a fine 15th century Perpendicular piece. It is octagonal and the sides are carved with quatrefoils (four leaved design) enclosing fleurons (stylised medieval flowers) and the trumpet shaped stem is unusual – a similar font can be seen at Upton Bishop and, in the chancel, a Norman pillar piscina – a shallow basin placed near the altar – also remains and was restored in 1857 – a rare survival!
Other surviving pieces include an inscription and the figure of Joan Rudhall. These are all that now remain from the memorial brass to John and Joan Rudhall. John died in 1506 and the memorial probably once on a stone in the chancel floor. The Rudhall family built nearby Rudhall Manor, which survives as an impressive medieval and 16th century timber framed house – there are also several important Rudhall memorials in Ross parish church.
The timber bell tower probably dates from 1686 (stone on west wall) and is built into the west end of the nave and the three bells, by Evans of Chepstow, date from 1764.
In Victorian times, the church underwent further changes and was restored by George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) in 1857. Bodley was an eminent Victorian architect who was related to and trained by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Bodley’s wife came from Kinnersley, Herefordshire, where he is buried.
Bodley’s earliest complete church is at Llangrove (1854-56), so his restoration of Brampton Abbotts was early in his career. One of his most impressive churches is at Hoar Cross in Staffordshire (1872-1900), whilst his last great work, started in 1906, is the National Cathedral, Washington D.C., USA. The western section of the Old School to the north of the church is also of 1857 by Bodley.
The north chapel was added for the rector’s family in 1863 and the limewashed interior has a fine ensemble of oak furnishings dating from the restoration of 1907-1908 by William Douglas Caroe (1857- 1938), funded by a bequest in memory of Rev H.S.Evans. Caroe was the son of a Danish consul and a pupil of John Loughborough Pearson (architect of Truro Cathedral).
Caroe’s work comprises the pews, pulpit, font cover, screen, stalls, communion rail, altar and the elaborately carved reredos (with statues of the four archangels by Hereford sculptor Robert Clarke).
Caroe’s restoration has much returned the church to its pre-Victorian appearance with the recreation of features such as the large window on the south side of the chancel. There is a quarry tiled floor throughout, with some ledger stones in the chancel.
The east window – showing the Ascension and symbols of the Evangelists – is by Powell of Whitefriars, London of 1908, designed by Charles Hardgrave. The nave south-east window showing six scenes from the life of Christ from Nativity to Ascension is by Thomas Baillie of London of 1861. It is in memory of James Barrett commemorated on a nearby plaque.
The other windows are all by Hardman of Birmingham dating from between 1859 and 1879. Those in the vestry show the Christ’s Charge to Peter, the Wedding at Canaa and the Ascension. Hardmans were one of the leading church furnishings and glass manufacturers of the Victorian period, executing many designs by Pugin.
There are several good 18th and early 19th century chest tombs – listed grade II – including an elaborate one to Thomas Dew who died in 1755 and the earliest being to the Rideout family of 1717. The earliest grave memorial in the churchyard commemorates Rowland Hunt, Lord of the Manor, who died in 1608.
The present interior is largely due to the restoration of 1907-8 by noted Arts and Crafts architect, William Douglas Caroe. The woodwork throughout the church including the elaborate screen and reredos is of excellent quality. These fine furnishings are complemented by attractive features such as a variety of stained glass and memorial tablets and the lychgate, which was added in 1931, is also by Caroe.
Brampton Abbotts Parish