Bubbenhall Village

History of St Giles

We are greatly indebted to Vicky Airey who has provided most of the history of the Church. Vicky hopes to publish a more complete history of the village at some time.

St Giles

The church has an unusual dedication - to St. Giles. St. Giles was born of a wealthy family in Greece but gave all his money to the poor, and went to live in a cave in France as a hermit, and God sent a hind to nourish him with her milk. One day a royal hunting party was out shooting deer, but wounded Giles in the leg instead. He died in France c. 710-724. He is patron saint of beggars, cripples, lepers, blacksmiths, etc.

The Church Building

The building is mainly from the 13th and 14th centuries: e.g. the chancel with its red sandstone lancets, and the two late 13th century Green Men as head corbels of the old Baptistry arch. The beams in the church porch are dated 1616 and the initials of the then-churchwardens are carved on them.

In the 1860s the restoration of the church included new pews, neo-medieval encaustic tiles, a rebuilt East end and altarpiece and a vestry; also a new pulpit, and two new arches on either side of the chancel arch. In the 1950s the Victorian pulpit and lectern were taken out and subsequently a new wooden pulpit was put in.

In the churchyard there are many interesting early eighteenth century red sandstone tombstones of a type found in the churchyards of the Avon valley, i.e. quarried from local stone. Local quarries existed, for instance, in Bubbenhall (just off the Stoneleigh Rd.), in Cubbington, and on Chantry Heath near Baginton.

The Church: organisation

A chapel was established some time before 1153, and in 1248 it was given to the joint diocese of Lichfield and Coventry by the Prior of Coventry in exchange for St. Michael's Church, Coventry - the present cathedral; i.e. the Prior gained St. Michael's, Coventry, and Lichfield gained possession of the chapelry of Bubbenhall, amongst others.

The prebend of "Bobenhull" was endowed by that diocese in 1255, and the grange, named twice in the 14th century - in documents of 1321 and 1337 - was farmed at that time by the parish priest. The farm, the land, and tithes from parishioners provided an income for the absenteee senior clergyman, the prebend, whose curate performed the actual ecclesiastical duties in the parish.

Bubbenhall remained under Lichfield until 1866, when it went to Worcester - though in 1863 the prebendal lands in Bubbenhall became Glebe lands and assisted with the Rector's stipend. The new diocese of Coventry was formed in 1918, and then Bubbenhall became part of that new diocese.

The grange land was in the open fields and common meadows, and would have varied from time to time. In 1726 with the Act of Enclosure, the prebendal lands were all in the Harps Field (NE of Paget's Lane) and Grove Field - in fact more or less the same as the glebe land of Glebe Farm as it was before it was taken for sand and gravel - plus some meadow land.

In the late 17th century the prebendal estate was administered by impropriators, gentlemen farmers who, in return for a fixed rent, farmed or sub let the land and exacted the tithes. Tithes were commuted at the time of Parliamentary Enclosure of the parish (1726), but the land continued to be farmed by lay people - Sir William Bromley of Baginton Hall, Speaker of the House of Commons, had become the new Lord of the Manor in 1717 and almost immediately took on the lease of the prebendal estate. The grange, or vicarage, was also in the hands of the lessee.

The clergy who served the parish were from neighbouring parishes, eg. Ryton (Moses Macham), Baginton (Jonathan Kimberley). The prebendal system continued into the 1840s, but in 1844 a Rectory was built after much effort by the then perpetual curate, Rev. Charles Joseph Penny, assisted by the former prebend, now Chancellor James Thomas Law of Lichfield Cathedral. The prebendal lands became glebe land and the rental from that land was now used to add to the stipend of the parish priest. But if you go to Lichfield Cathedral you can still see the prebendal stall, with the name Bobenhull, in the choir. Many archives relating to the village are still to be found at Lichfield, including transcriptions of our earliest parish registers, which start in 1558.

Bell-ringing

Until recently the church had only three bells, dated 1600 (cast by Newcombe), 1670 ( cast by Henry Bagley) and 1803 (cast by T. Mears).

The three bells were not ringable because they were hung in an old timber frame. In 2000 the second became the present tenor,the old treble cast by one of the Newcombes of Leicester about 1580 has been retained as the clock bell. The tenor cast by T Mears II, London, 1813, was recast and with the former tenor of three from the redundant St Bartholemew, Little Packington, Warwickshire which became the fifth, were augmented to six. The two old bells were tuned and new fittings were supplied, together with a cast iron and steel two tier frame installed lower in the tower. The old frame together with the former treble has been left in situ. The work was carried out by J. Taylor (Bellfounders) Ltd Loughborough in 2000

The six bells are now :-

1. By John Taylor, Loughborough, 2000, weight 236 pounds,
2. John Taylor, Loughborough, 2000, 286 pounds
3. John Taylor, Loughborough, 2000, 326 pounds,
4. John Taylor, Loughborough, 2000, 370 pounds,
5. Newcombe, Leicester, c 1600, 475 pounds,
6. Henry Bagley I, Chacombe, 1670, 591 pounds,

In the early 19th century the bells used to be rung every year to commemorate "Gunpowder Treason" and the anniversary of the king's (George III's) coronation.

In the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries the bells were rung on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and the ringers used to scratch their names in pencil on the whitewashed walls of the belfry.

The first recorded mention of the church clock is in 1813


This site is supported by Bubbenhall Parish Council.

Developed and maintained by Jan Lucas

Last updated on 18th of September 2017