History of St Giles
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.
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
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.
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
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