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St Peter, Haresfield, Gloucestershire

(51°47′27″N, 2°16′36″W)
SO 810 103
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
  • Rita Wood
  • Rita Wood
05 August 2019

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Feature Sets

Haresfield is a scattered settlement in the plain at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment and about 5 miles from the centre of Gloucester. The church is largely 14thc, and has two ‘chancels’ end to end, a nave with N and S porches and a W tower. It was ‘restored or rebuilt’ in 1841-2 for David J. Niblett by his son Francis. The curious sculpture on the NE angle of the nave is mentioned in Comments.

Romanesque remains are the restored N doorway and a restored window in the N wall of the western chancel. There are possibly 12-thc grave covers in the churchyard.


The church was granted to Llanthony Priory, Gloucester, in 1161 by Henry son of Miles Earl of Hereford, and this is the first known record of the church.

The Domesday Survey entry and subsequent complex history for the manors of Haresfield is set out in Hall, 1894-5, 282-285, 291-2, 305-6. The manors, or lands, were in the hands of de Bohuns and fitzHerberts.

The N boundary of the churchyard follows part of the moat of what is thought to been ‘the site of the manor house of Haresfield, held after the Norman Conquest in 1066 by Durand, Sheriff of Gloucestershire, and later by the de Bohuns…’ (information board on-site).


Exterior Features




Description of the church (Hall, p. 336 et seq.) is mostly a tale of loss.

Two chancels: There appear to be two chancels, end to end. The W chancel could ‘have been the base of a former central tower' though there is no other evidence. Conversely, the E compartment may have been built as a Lady Chapel’ (Pevsner and Verey 2002, 525). The situation is not extreme, and may have come about quite normally with a wish for a larger chancel.

Doorway: Both editions of Gloucestershire, in the Buildings of England series, refer to the N doorway in terms that suggest only the tympanum is original, and that that itself is ‘restored’. The structure of the doorway around it is largely undamaged, and plaster is peeling off the surrounding walls, suggesting an effort to make the doorway appear perfect.

A relief sculpture on the NE angle of nave is described by Verey (1997-79) as ‘a possibly Norman fertility sculpture’, but later (Verey and Brooks 2002) as ‘a carved figure, apparently medieval, probably David with his sling’. It is discussed by Richard Bryant as a stone that has been wrongly assigned to the pre-Conquest period (2012, 269); he thinks it might be an angel holding a balance, or a man holding a sling, perhaps with a sword in the left hand (in that case, it might be David combatting Goliath). Bryant says ‘perhaps fourteenth or fifteenth century?’ There is nothing, apart from the 'money-bag' to suggest that it is twelfth-century any more than pre-Conquest: but that it is the height of two normal courses in a later medieval wall, so may be at least 0.6m high, and is all in one quoin block, suggests a later date than our period.

Grave covers: Butler and Jones (1972, 152, pl. II(i)) describe stones in the churchyard which may have formed a grave cover in the form of a ledger stone between head and foot stones, with a late 12th or early 13thc century date. There is more detail in Verey and Brooks 2002, 526: N of the N porch, there are two plain coped monuments, and a third with ‘a worn relief cross with further crosses on the end face. The fourth, possibly 12thc, has paterae on each sloping face, containing stylized flowers; the head stone, with a relief cross within a circle, could be contemporary’. W of the S porch, there is a smaller medieval slab, also head and foot stones carved with crosses.


A guide to St Peter’s Haresfield N.d. N. pl.

  1. R. Bryant, The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, Vol. 10; The Western Midlands, London 2012.
  1. R. F. Butler, and L. J. Jones, ‘The Cross-Slabs of Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 91 (1972), 150-8.
  1. J. M. Hall, ‘Haresfield: Manors and Church’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 19 (1894-5), 279-373.

D. Verey, Gloucestershire, Harmondsworth 1976-1979.

  1. D. Verey and A. Brooks, Gloucestershire 2: the Vale and the Forest of Dean, New Haven 2002, 525-6.