Welcome to the Parish Church of
St John the Baptist, Harescombe
Harescombe is a small village, and stretches steeply down from the Cotswold edge. The parish church is situated in the lower end of the parish; The Ecclesiastical Parish is of Harescombe with Brookthorpe, formed some years ago when St Swithun’s Church Brookthorpe was closed for regular worship. The PCC is made up from regular worshippers who live in either Harescombe or Brookthorpe. The church may only have a small regular congregation but its importance to the community can be measured by the fact that all important occasions will see the small church filled to capacity. In a community where three families have been farming the area since the mid nineteenth century we have been happy to embrace the new services introduced within our liturgy.
The church dates from the fourteenth century, and was consecrated in 1315; it consists of a nave and chancel and bell tower, which houses two bells, one of which is the oldest bell in Gloucestershire, thought to date circa 1180-1200. There are also church records recording a priest in Harescombe about that time.
The exterior of the building is little changed apart from the addition of a vestry in the nineteenth century. Although an eighteenth century Rector recorded the church and rectory to be in good repair by the nineteenth century vestry minutes show that matters had deteriorated. A decision was taken in the latter part of the century to undertake major alterations with particular reference to the interior of the church under the supervision of the architect Francis Niblett. The present day church interior is essentially that of the Victorian restoration with the exception of the altar furnishings and the riddle posts. These are the work of Sir Ninian Compier, and were originally in a chapel in Gloucester Cathedral. The glasses of the West & East windows are the work of Edward Payne.
St Swithin’s Church, now closed, is managed by the Historic Churches’ Trust. It is just off the main road from Stroud to Gloucester. And is open daily. It was built in the 13th Century, making it possibly the oldest church building in the Benefice. There is still one annual service there, usually a carol service at Christmas.