A Brief History

This Place of Worship was founded in the 11th century although the site is adjacent to an ancient stone well, suggesting even earlier pagan origins.


The Tower is all that remains now, of this church which according to the guide book for St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (1983), was of Saxon origin.


As early as the 13th century a Chapel of Ease was built in Gretton, thereby becoming the central focus of the village. 


This chapel was extended in the mid 15th century with the addition of a tower paid for by Ralph Boteler, Lord Sudeley. 


The bell hung within this tower was inscribed ‘Ave Maria Gracia Plena Dominus Tecum’ ( translated as "Hail Mary, Full Of Grace, The Lord Is With Thee" ) and is thought to have been struck in about 1400. 

Several of the letters are reversed or upside down implying a certain degree of ignorance or carelessness on the part of the moulder. 

(This bell was eventually transferred to the new church when that was erected during the Victorian era as a line of continuity between the old and the new.)


A recent discovery, whilst excavating a driveway in the grounds of a modern house opposite the tower, has been a small circular pit and charred stonework thought to be the casting pit for the bell.


Several other dwellings (now listed) were also built at this time implying a period of relative prosperity.  At some point a tunnel was ( allegedly !) built between the Chapel of Ease and Abbotswyck, (one of the oldest houses in the village ) but this has yet to be explained.

 An important occasion for the villagers occurred in 1779 when John Wesley was expected to preach at the Chapel of Ease.  This became even more memorable when the local vicar at the time had second thoughts about allowing such a prominent but controversial figure to speak within the church itself.  At the last minute he changed his mind and John Wesley was forced to speak to the gathering in a local orchard instead. 


Later, in 1812, a Methodist chapel opened.  The Sunday School which was based there became very popular partly due to the outings that were organised.  It closed in 1953 and was converted into a house in 1974. 

The arrival of Mrs Emma Dent at Sudeley castle in 1856 brought about influential changes in Gretton.  Her philanthropic approach gave rise to the establishment of a school in 1862 and the building of a new church at the western edge of the village in 1868, after which  the Chapel of Ease fell into disuse.


Please also see below an interesting historical study from 1927.

Tower History 1.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [460.1 KB]

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