The History of the Church of St Laurence, Longney
Elsi, lord of Longney until 1086 or 1087, built a church there and invited St. Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, to consecrate it. A luxuriant nut-tree blocked the daylight from the church, and when Elsi said that he would rather not have the church consecrated than lose the tree the bishop cursed the tree so that it withered. The history of the rectory estate, held by Wulfwin the priest c. 1115, is given above. A vicarage had been established by 1291, to which Great Malvern Priory presented until the Dissolution. Thereafter the Crown retained the advowson; in 1953 the vicarage was united with the perpetual curacy of Elmore, and the patronage of the united benefice was shared by the Lord Chancellor with the Archdeacon of Gloucester as patron of Elmore.
The vicar had the small tithes, the great tithes of 3 yardlands, and c. 3 a. of meadow. The tithes were commuted for corn-rents at inclosure in 1815. The vicarage house was recorded, as being out of repair, in 1563; it presumably stood on the site of the 18th-century brick house immediately north of the churchyard that was the vicarage until 1869. A new, larger house was then built with the help of a grant on Windmill Hill, 700 yds. east of the church. This is also now privately owned.
A chantry of St. Mary the Virgin in Longney church had been founded by 1283, when it had a chaplain called William; Stephen the chaplain of Longney, recorded c. 1267, and John the chaplain of Longney, before 1300, may also have been chantry priests. Lands in Longney that had been for the maintenance of the chantry and its priest were granted by the Crown in 1564.
Robert Brether or Bryther, who evidently belonged to a family holding land in Hardwicke and Longney, became vicar in 1466 and was still there in 1498. A curate was employed by Roger Mathew, vicar in 1540, and by his successor John David, who was said in 1548 to neglect the quarterly sermons but was very nearly satisfactory in doctrine in 1551. Robert Clayfield, vicar from 1563 to 1609, was described as but a mean divine and no preacher in 1576, when he had another benefice and lived elsewhere, but later he lived at Longney and preached.
Another long incumbency was that of Richard Littleton (d. 1713), whose monument in Longney church records that he was minister there for 58 years. Littleton's successors until 1865 were non-resident, usually employing curates to serve Longney; the last three held the perpetual curacy of Elmore also.
E. R. Nussey, in whose time the new vicarage was built, held the living of Longney alone for 39 years from 1865, and J. R. Rowland for 41 years from 1912.
The church of St Laurence, which may earlier have been called St. Helen's, is built mainly of Lias stone, formerly covered externally with a yellow wash, and has a tiled roof. It comprises chancel with a south chapel, long nave, south tower set as a transept, and north and south porches. No trace of the 11th-century building is to be seen. A rebuilding in the 13th century is represented by the opening from the chancel to the south chapel, a two-bay arcade of two chamfered orders resting on a cylindrical central pier with a moulded capital, and by two plain piscinas in the chancel and chapel.
In the 14th century the two lower stages of the tower were made; the bottom stage has a simple window of two pointed lights, and there is a similar window in the south wall of the nave. The west window is of three cusped 14th-century lights, and the east window was once like it. The north doorway, the timber north porch, the two-light windows in the north wall of the nave, a sepulchral recess in the chancel with an ogee moulded arch, and the priest's door to the south chapel are apparently also of the 14th century. Other windows in the chancel, nave, and south chapel were made in the 15th century.
The nave has a trussed rafter roof, retaining its panelling at the east end, with moulded tie-beams. The south porch and the upper stage and short diagonal buttresses of the tower, all of oolitic ashlar, were added in the late 15th or early 16th century; the former chancel arch, springing from the wall, and the three-light south window of the nave were made in the same period.
The tower is embattled and has large gargoyles, and its three stages are separated by string-courses. The large south porch is also embattled; both inner and outer doorways have continuous moulded arches with quatrefoils carved in the spandrels, and are surmounted by mutilated niches, the outer one incorporated in a row of trefoil-headed panels; within the porch are stone benches and the octagonal shaft of a stoup.
The nave and chancel were restored in 1873-4, and the arches between the chancel and south chapel, which had been filled in the later 18th century, were unblocked and the chancel windows and chancel arch were rebuilt. The chancel was refurnished in 1906, and the tower restored in 1916. There were two or more bells in 1543, and five in the early 18th century.
Of the eight surviving bells one was cast by John Palmer in 1635, one by Abraham Rudhall in 1712, and the other six by John Rudhall between 1796 and 1833. The organ was bought in 1905. The font, which has an octagonal panelled bowl and buttressed pedestal, was made in the 14th century. From the later 18th century to the later 19th it was in the churchyard, disused.
The mural monuments include two by John Pearce of Frampton on Severn. The church plate is of 1804 and 1805. The registers begin in 1661 and are virtually complete. In the churchyard are the socket of an ancient stone cross and two stone coffins carved with crosses.
From: 'Longney: Church', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10: Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds (1972), pp.
203-05. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=15834&strquery=longney.
Date accessed: 16 March 2006.