The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Stoke Lacy - A parish and church with a long and rich history.

 

The aerial photograph above is courtesy of Bill Morgan at SkyCamera: https://skycamera.co.uk/

Vicar: The Reverend Clive Evans supported by his wife, Deb.

                    Churchwardens: Alma Westwood, Richard Combe.                                  

The precise date of the foundation of this Parish is unclear but it must have been before 1279. There is a restored Norman Arch between the chancel and the nave so it is possible that the church was originally built during the period when the de Lacy family held the manor of Stoke Lacy and perhaps by the same Walter de Lacy who founded St Peter’s Church Hereford and St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester.

The Building

The Church building has undergone many changes since its foundation. In 1677 Thomas Blount described it as ‘a small church encompassed with a large churchyard which usually leads a load of hay’. In Duncombe’s History of Hereford (1812) it is described as ‘a small building having one aisle, a chancel and a low tower with bells.’ In 1863 the church was restored under a local architect, F. R. Kempson, son of William Brooke Kempson who was Rector 1839-1858.  Pevsner writes (1963) ‘The Church was restored in the Early English style (at a cost of £950). The chancel arch is Norman. The responds have scalloped capitals and a single step arch.’

The 16th century oak screen is not a native of the church! It has been imported from elsewhere as can be seen from the fact that it does not propely fit the wall before which it stands – but it is very lovely all the same. Beyond the screen, the choir stalls date from 1893 but contain the oak from their predecessors – which must have been very fine in themselves. There is a two-manual organ, large for a church of this size, installed in 1887 at a cost of £500 – a considerable sum for this time. The walls of the church hold a number of plaques commemorating parishioners who died mostly in the 19th century and a memorial to those killed in the two world wars. There are some fine windows, especially the two most recent in the nave.

A recent addition is the kitchen, vestry and lavatory added in 2003 and known as The Tower Rooms.   To see more photos of the Church exterior and interior, click Here

Bells

There are now six bells. The tenor dates from 1400-1420 and came from the Worcester foundry. The third and fourth bells are by John of Gloucester c1350. The fifth was recast by John Greene of Worcester in 1625. The remaining two bells were given in memory of the men of Stoke Lacy who died in the First World War. They were cast at the Leicester foundry of John Taylor in 1920 to make up a ring of six and in 1978 they were rehung by the Whitechapel Foundry with a lot of informed and enthusiastic local assistance.

Incumbents

On the South wall is a list of the incumbents of the parish, beginning with John of Bristol in 1279. During the succeeding two centuries there were many changes, some staying for as little as a year or less. One wonders why: perhaps the proximity of the Welsh Marches caused our early priests to be engulfed in the troubles of the time, or more likely the parish was so impoverished as to have little appeal. In 1397 the Visitation return reports that the parishioners say that the chancel is in need of repair, and the Rectory House by default of the Rector. Also that John Haywarde unjustly keeps back 4 shillings entrusted by the Court of parishioners to the upkeep of the church from the residue of the money recently collected to pay the subsidy of the Lord King. In 1461, 1474, and 1492 ‘the church of Stoke Lacy was exempt from the payment of a tithe.’ In 1505 the Diocese of Hereford was required to pay £345 13s 4d to King Henry VII and Stoke Lacy was assessed for only 7s 8d which hardly suggests a richly endowed community.

From the 16th century the fortunes of the parish improved and many Rectors remained here for several decades. James Rawlins (1625-1661) retained his position throughout the Civil War – but he was described in the Puritan Survey of 1642 as a ‘vayne man who seldom preacheth.’ Long incumbencies continued until quite recently.  Prebendary Henry Morgan was Rector for fifty years (1887-1937) and before that acted as curate to his father who was Rector from 1871 to 1887. The Morgans father and son gave 66 years to this church. The son of rebendary Morgan (HFS) founded the Morgan Motor Company of Malvern and it is said that the first prototype three-wheeler was assembled in the Rectory garage. In 2005 Mr Peter Morgan who was the active patron of the church died and a memorial window in his memory is now in the Church Porch. The last resident Rector of the independent parish of Stoke Lacy was the Revd Francis John (1942-1975). During his time the new Rectory was built 1952) and The Old Rectory – lovely but impractical for the modern clergyman – passed into private hands.

 In 2008 the church was grouped with Bromyard, in a new Benefice.

 The Parish Today

The parish is fortunate to have a thriving church, a public house – The Plough Inn, and a newly built Village Hall (2000). Symonds Cider – established in 1727 – was eventually sold to Greenalls and then H P Bulmer before becoming today the home of an independently owned brewery, Wye Valley Brewery.

Only a few yards from the church is Netherwood, bought by the village and given to The Woodland Trust to remain woodland in perpetuity. The wood was planted in 1999 and a Millennium Stone placed in the centre in 2000.

Stoke Lacy is also the home of “VillageVoices” our local community choir and the handbell group“Village Bells”. Contact Janet Watson on 01432 820068.

The Patrons of the Church are Mr. Charles Morgan, and his sister Mrs. Jill Price.

Morgan family connections - windows in the Church.

 Photos by Chris Bestall.

    

Stoke Lacy Success in Heritage Lottery Funding

The residents of Stoke Lacy are celebrating success in their award of HLF funding. The Parochial Church Council of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Stoke Lacy, has received confirmation of a grant of £99,900 from the National Lottery for its “Harvesting Our Heritage” project. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players the project aims to restore the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul’s and rejuvenate the heart of the community. The project will commence in the autumn of 2018 and will run until the autumn of 2020.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project aims to carry out essential repairs to the steeple and tower and will include all village residents of all ages in everything from training in archive research into the history of the many famous families and the oldest buildings of Stoke Lacy, wildlife identification and habitat skills, recording of oral history techniques, herb gardening and bell ringing. Additionally, the funding will enable the organisation of the 110th Morgan Car Anniversary in Stoke Lacy, the delivery of heritage exhibitions and talks, the enhancing and creation of wildlife habitats in the churchyard, the design and building of a herb garden in the churchyard for education and as a quiet place of reflection, the creation of a Stoke Lacy Heritage Society to sustain the project’s long term aims and finally the organising of bell ringing taster sessions culminating in a bell ringing festival in November 2020.

John Caiger, Vice Chairman of the Stoke Lacy PCC, said “Stoke Lacy’s Heritage is intimately connected with the Morgan family behind the globally renowned Morgan Motor Company. HFS Morgan’s Dad and Grandad were both Rectors in the village. We are grateful to The Morgan Motor Company for fully supporting the project by making it their “Charity of the Year”. Wye Valley Brewery, based in Stoke Lacy, is also generously supporting the project.”

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said: “We have been delighted to support St. Peter and St. Paul’s Stoke Lacy to carry out urgent repairs and engage new audiences with this much-loved local landmark. Thank you to the National Lottery players who have made it possible.”

Further significant funds are still needed to complete urgent repairs to the church roof but, with the enthusiasm of the village’s residents for putting on events and further donations, this will be achieved by the end of the year. Upcoming events include the Vintage Fete (17th June) , the Hereford Fire Choir Concert (29th June) and a Village Picnic in the Netherwood Wood (29th July). There is already a big buzz in the village encouraging more people to get involved.

Commenting on the award, Clive Evans, Vicar, said: “We hope that the project acts as a catalyst to bring the whole community together especially involving the many new families coming into the village”.

Notes to Editors

About the Stoke Lacy Heritage Project

“Harvesting Our Heritage” has been established to seek funds to restore the Church of St Peter and St Paul’s and to ensure the church and its heritage become a community facility and asset. Information can be found on www.stokelacyheritage.co.uk and on Facebook at Stoke Lacy Heritage

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.