All Saints' Church and Parish, Viney Hill

Notes and impressions by C.R.Johnson


                   We love the place, O God,

                   Wherein Thine honour dwells;

                   The joy of Thine abode

                   All earthly joy excels.

Vicar: Rev. Emrys Evans, B.A.

Churchwardens: Frank Austin Cooper and Harold Lancelot Turley


Note : This was originally published in booklet form and offered for sale at 2/6
n.b Spelling, grammar and punctuation are true to Cam’s original – Ken Morse


(by the Vicar, the Rev. Emrys Evans, B.A)

Mr C.R.Johnson has achieved a long cherished ambition and satisfied an equally long-felt local need in compiling this short history of the Church of All Saints and the Parish of Viney Hill.
While it is customary to venerate ancient things, chiefly on account of their antiquity, there is a tendency nowadays to belittle anything new or comparatively new. Happily though our parish is a mere 85 years old it has already enshrined itself in the hearts of many as a well-loved House of God.


Author's Note

I was influenced to write these notes by the desire to place on record some of the chief features of our Church and Parish. Knowing full well my limitations for undertaking a work of this description, I nevertheless felt that many parishioners would be glad to possess such a record. This being so – after consulting friends – I decided to make the attempt, as I have, I believe, at least two qualifications for the work, viz. a deep love of our Church and Parish, and a close connection with its work for over 40 years.

My warmest thanks go to the Vicar for his kindness in placing at my disposal the Church records and documents from which much of my material has been gathered.

I also desire to thank my son, Basil, for his help in taking the photographs of the Church, and the Vicar and Wardens for their courtesy in permitting the photographs to be taken.

(Unfortunately I do not have access to the original photographs to accompany this document – Ken Morse)

C.R.Johnson                 ‘Southville’, Yorkley Slade, Lydney.

The Church

Parishioners of All Saints, Viney Hill, may well be proud of their Parish Church, as it is beautifully situated on the southern border of the Parish at Viney Hill, beside the road which runs from Yorkley to Blakeney.

Bothe the Church and Vicarage were built in the year 1866 by the generosity of Mary Bathurst (widow), of Eastbach Court, Coleford.

A small endowment for living was provided by Mary Bathurst and the Rev. William Hiley Bathurst, of Lydney Park.

It is interesting to note in passing that the well-known and well-loved hymn ‘O for a faith that will not shrink’ was written by the above Rev. William Hiley Bathurst.

The Church was consecrated on April 25th 1887, (is this date correct? – did they wait 20 years to consecrate the church? – Ken Morse) by the Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, the Right Reverend Charles John Elliott.

We can well imagine the joy of villagers of Viney Hill at having a Church in their own village, for, previous to the erection of All Saints Church, the nearest churches were All Saints Blakeney, St.Mary’s Lydney, and St Paul’s Parkend, which formerly was the Parish Church if Viney Hill.

Before the erection of the Church, however, services were held in Viney Hill School, the singing being led by the local Fife Band.

The Advowson – or the right of presentation to the living – was vested in the Rev. William Hiley Bathurst, and in his heirs and successors. This right of presentation continued in the Bathurst family until the year 1936, when the Right Honourable Viscount Bledisloe, P.C, G.C.M.G, K.B.E., of Lydney Park, transferred the patronage by ‘Deed of Gift’ to the Master and Fellows of the Great Hall of the University commonly called University College, Oxford. The Master and Fellows of this college are the Patrons of the living at the present time. The last priest to be presented to the living under the original patronage was the Rev. Charles Richard Williams, who was presented by the Right Honourable Viscount Bledisloe, P.C, G.C.M.G, K.B.E. The Rev. Emrys Evans, B.A., was the first priest presented by the Master and fellows if University College, Oxford in the year 1950.

The parish has been well served by very faithful priests, an eloquent tribute to the conscientious manner in which patronage has been exercised.

The writer has personal knowledge of the last six priests, having been privileged to serve them and the Church, during their vicariates. As a lad, he remembers the Rev. E.S. Smith and as a young man – although not closely connected with the Church at that time – he is fully aware of the splendid work done by the Rev. Edward Roberts and Mrs Roberts, during the four years Mr. Roberts was in charge of the Parish.

The Church, standing on ground which is slightly raised above the level of the road, and surrounded by the graveyard, must give to all who pass by a sense of security and peace.

Entering the Churchyard, we follow the short path to the main entrance of the Church, which is on the south side, where we see the open Porch, which, unlike many ancient Churches, has no seats. Before entering we walk around the Church and notice the building.

The East End is in the form of an Apse. The Apse is surrounded by a Turret from which hang two lovely toned bells, tuned to the notes of E flat and B flat. These were cast by Messrs Mears of London, and were given by the Rev. William Hiley Bathurst.

Although only two in number, it is pleasant to hear them ringing out the Merry wedding peel, or ushering in the New Year. When rung singly, too, for public worship, they are a pleasant reminder to all who have ears to hear.

I well remember, many years ago, an old man who was going along to Mattins, stopping in the road, putting up his stick and saying to me as I overtook him: ‘Listen! That bell is saying to me, Come, Come, Come’. What an illustration of simple faith. The old man could hear the voice of God calling him to worship through the ringing of the Church bell.

Walking on around the Church to the West End, and standing a little way back, we note the main body of the Church, which is the Nave and South Aisle. The North Aisle is missing, but the structure of the Nave is such that the north wall could be extended and a North Aisle added if the need should some day arise.

The windows of the Church are generally narrow, the west window being the largest and cruciform in shape. The glass of all the windows is of greenish tint, with the exception of four of the five windows in the Sanctuary. These four are of richly coloured glass.

Viewing the Church from the outside when it is lighted on a winter’s night, one gets the impression of a huge lantern, due no doubt to the Apse on the East End, and the narrow windows. The writer sees in this a symbol of that ‘Light that is a lantern unto our feet’.

Returning to the Porch we enter the Church and immediately on our left we see the plain stone Font with its heavy oak cover. The copper Ewer at the Font was given by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Johnson.

The Pews of the Nave and Aisle are of plain pinewood, but very comfortable, as are also the choir stalls.

The Church is lofty and the roof supported by fine round pillars, surmounted by graceful arches.

The Nave and Aisle accommodate 400 worshippers. Walking up the Nave we come to the Chancel steps. On our left us the Pulpit, which, like the pews, is of pine wood. The Organ a little to the left, is built in a recess. It is of good tone, although old, and was built by Messrs Liddiatt, of Leonard Stanley, Glos. It was purchased during the vicariate of the Rev. Edward Roberts.

On our right stands the Lecturn, which is of brass, and in the form of an Eagle with outspread wings on a brass column and base. Reading the inscription we find it was presented to the Church by the Rev. Edward and Mrs. Roberts.

The Vicar’s Vestry is on the north side of the Choir Stalls, and the Choir Vestry on the south. The Clergy Stall is on the south side on the Chancel. The Processional Cross of brass was presented to the Church by the Johnson family in memory of their brother, Gilbert.

Coming to the Sanctuary, we are at once struck by the beautiful representation of the Crucifixion in the centre East Window. In fact, this window dominates the whole Church, reminding the congregation of the great At-one-ment between God and Man. Those who have seen this window, when the rising sun is shining upon it, or at night, when the pale moon lights it up, cannot fail to wonder at at its beauty, and feel the spiritual significance of the scene.

This window was erected to the memory of the first four Vicars of the Parish who had passed to their rest, viz. the Reverends Samuel Edwards, Samuel George Edwards, B.A, Edward Samuel Smith and Canon Wilson Aylesbury Roberts M.A. A brass plate with their names inscribed is on the north pillar of the Chancel Arch.

On either side of this centre window there are representations of – Moses, on the north, and Elijah on the south. The figure of Moses, representing the Law was erected in memory of Mr and Mrs Hartley James, of ‘Tomlin’. That of Elijah – representing

The prophets – was erected in memory of those of the Paris who gave their lives in the 1914-18 war. A brass plate with inscription relating to the window representing Moses is on the north pillar of the Chancel Arch, while near the south pillar there is a memorial plate inscribed with the names of those who made the supreme sacrifice.

The window at the extreme south end of the Sanctuary represents the Apostle St. Paul, and was erected to the memory of Joseph Lowe by members of the family. Mr. Low served the Church for many years as Sexton a Verger. The inscription is at the base of the window.

The window at the extreme north end of the Sanctuary is of the ordinary glass of the Church, but the approved scheme is for this window to be replaced at some future date, by a representation of St. Peter.

The scheme for the five Sanctuary windows when completed will then show, in the centre our Lord making Atonement upon the Cross, and on each side the representatives of the Law and the Prophets – Moses and Elijah who foretold His coming; and  on the extreme north and south sides, representations of SS. Peter and Paul, who proclaimed that the Messiah had come.

The Altar – the centre of our devotion – is made of solid oak, and has a beautiful red floral frontal, presented by Mrs Edward Roberts, the pattern being embroidered by the donor with the help of Miss Bathurst.

The plain Altar Cross was given by the local branch of the Church of England Men’s’ Society.

The Altar vases, together with the Sanctuary carpet, were given by Mrs Edward Roberts, as were also the Sanctuary curtains.

Other gifts to the Church include the Sunday School Banner – depicting the Good Shepherd – which was given by parents and friends of the Sunday School.

The Altar Candlesticks were given by Mr. Robert Williams, of Parkend, and the Credence Table was made and given by Mr Gilbert Johnson.

The Wardens’ Staves of Office were given by Miss Frost, of Allastone Mesne, in memory of her mother.

The oak shelf and flower vases beneath the War Memorial plate were given by Mr J. H. Lancaster.

During the year 1952 the Church was enriched by the following gifts, viz:-

(1)   Candle Snuffer by Mr and Mrs V.S Jonson and Mr and Mrs Maurice Johnson.

(2)   Silver Chalice and Paten by parishioners and friends, in memory of the late Vicar, the Rev. Charles Richard Williams – Vicar 1922 – 1950.

(3)   Lectern bible with inscription, also in memory of the Rev C.R.Williams presented to the Church by Mrs Williams.

(4)   The Notice Board in the Church Porch was given by Miss Griffiths of Yorkley, in memory of her mother.

On Sunday, January 13th 1952, the Vicar, the Rev. Emrys Evans, dedicated the Electric Lighting system. This replaces an Acetylene Gas system installed 40 years ago by Messrs Penley Werrett.

Generally speaking, although the Church possesses no ornate furniture, it is very beautiful and has a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

Our thanks go out to those who, by their gifts, have helped to enrich our beloved Parish Church.

May the spirit of giving to the Church we love, continue in the future, that it may become more and more beautiful, and more and more worthy of the God we worship.

The Schools

‘Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.’ Psalm 119, V.33

Both Viney Hill and Blakeney Woodside Schools were built about the year 1851. As the Parish was not created until 1866 (out of the larger parish of St.Paul’s, Parkend) the two schools existed for their first 15 years as Church Schools of Parkend Parish.

Grants of land for this purpose were made by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury to the Rev. Henry Poole, Vicar of St. Paul’s Parkend, an to John Blanch, Churchwarden, and their successors, ‘The children to be educated according to the ends and designs of the ‘National Society’ in the principles of the Established Church’.

Originally, both these schools were built in the form of a cross, and indeed, the Woodside School remained substantially the same until it was closed in the year 1908.

This school served the district of Woodside for 57 years, not only in training the children to take their part in the life of the community, but also imparting to them the spiritual values which did so much to mould their future characters.

Many elderly folk ca, I am sure, remember the Schoolmasters – Mr Harris and Mr Burt – who by their examples of churchmanship left their mark upon their generation.

It is also sad to have to record that owing to the requirements of the Local Education Authority in bringing the school more up-to-date, the Rev. Canon W.A. Roberts and his fellow managers were unable to meet the financial obligations, and so were reluctantly compelled to close the school in 1908.

In addition to the use of the school for scholastic purposes, it also served the district for social activities, and for mid-week services during the winter months. Those services were most helpful to the old people who found it so difficult to traverse the Church walk to their Parish Church.

Viney Hill School has lost much of its original design as many alterations and additions have been carried out. During the incumbency of the Rev. J.K. Chatfield a corridor was, formed, an extension was made to the west end, and a glass partition erected, the whole costing £650. Other alterations had been made previously, but this was the most extensive. For 100 years this school has served the district well, and many if the boys and girls educated in this school have been credit to their village.

Who can measure the influence of these two Church schools in moulding the character of the young people of the parish during the years before education became the concern of the State.

The sound teaching given, coupled with the example of Christian living of the Headmasters and Staff, have left an influence which will not soon pass away.

Most of us can recall Mr James Henry Hudson, who was ‘Head’ at Viney Hill for a number of years, and who, in addition to his work in the Day School, gave up his Sundays to superintend the two sessions of the Sunday School, and also read the Lessons in Church at Mattins and Evensong.

It was a joy to see, each Sunday morning, some 100 children walking in procession from the school to the Church, for Mattins, in the care of Mr Hudson.

This school too, has been the centre of the social activities of Viney Hill for 100 years. Many can recall the days of the ‘village concert’ held in the school. The concerts given by the scholars were especially appreciated by the parishioners before the advent of the buses and the radio. He ‘Sixpenny Hop’ and the ‘Shilling Whist Drive' were also highlights in the life of the village.

However, the wheels of progress move on, and the requirements of the State in furthering the education of the people, has placed too heavy a strain upon the finances of the Church, and ‘Viney Hill’, in common with many other Church schools, has been compelled to ask for Controlled Status. The Foundation Managers of the school – under the chairmanship of the Rev. C.R. Williams – took this course in 1949. Since that year the Local Education Authority has taken full control and financial responsibility for the school. This does not mean, however, that the school ceases to be a Voluntary School, but it does mean that the constitution of the local Board of Managers has been changed.

Before ‘Control’ there were four Foundation (or Church) Managers, together with one appointed by the County Authority, and one by the local District Council.

Since the school received Controlled Status, the Board of Managers is constituted as follows, viz:-

Two representatives of the Church – the Vicar of the parish being one – two appointed by the District Council, and one by the Parish Council.

Thus in 1949, one chapter in the history of the school came to an end and another began. Whatever the future has in store for our future educationally, we can look back with pride on what the Church has done for education in the past.

The Parish

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building’ – 1 Cor. 3, V.9

 It is difficult to describe the boundaries of the Parish accurately, as this would entail a great amount of detail, but for a general idea of the extent of the parish, the following description should help.

From a boundary stone, marked V.H.A.S.D. No.1, on the bridge over Blackpool brook at Moseley Green, near the Old Pike House, which divides the parish from St John’s, Cinderford, the parish extends through the woods to the Parkend road, and proceeds along this road to Bailey Hill, where, behind the old slag tip near the Bailey Inn, a secondary stone is seen, marked V.H.A.S.D. No.2. From this stone going in a southerly direction for about 200 yards we arrive at boundary stone marked V.H.A.S.D. No.3. This stone is near the dwelling known as ‘The Mansion’, the present residence if Mr. F.W. Harvey, the Gloucestershire poet.

Other boundary points, which have no boundary stones are, (1) a little to the north of the Nag’s Head Inn, Yorkley Slade, (2) a point at the bottom of Oldcroft Lane, (3) from Oldcroft Lane to a point nearby Nibley Top, skirting the Hayes Grove on the Church side, (4) from Nibley Top to a point near the Blakeney Gas Works, and proceeding from here to (5) near Blakeney Lodge, from Blakeney Hill Lodge we come to point (6) the well-known Blackpool Bridge, and then following the new road we arrive back at Point No.1 at Moseley Green with the boundary stone marked V.H.A.S.D. No1.

The greater part of the Parish is woodland, and the populated parts lie mostly on the parish borders.

It is interesting to note that the old Roman road runs roughly through the middle of the parish, north to south. The population of the parish is approximately 2000 souls.

The parish has much beautiful scenery to delight the eye. On the western side at Bailey Hill, one marvels at the magnificent panorama stretching down our lovely Severn and across the beautiful Cotswolds. At the eastern end at Viney Hill Point, we get another glorious view of  ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ with Blakeney nestling under the hill, and again, Severn’s broad expanse of water gleaming in the near distance, and on the left, Blakeney Hill’s woods and white-faced cottages.

The writer well remembers – during the early stages of the Second World War, when the Local Defence Volunteers were preparing for the expected German invasion – leaving the vicarage with a fellow volunteer, in the early hours of a summer’s morning, to keep watch at this particular point. Having arrived there, and sitting on the rustic bench, he was struck with the marvelous peace, and beauty of the scene spread out before him as the dawn began to break. First, the twittering of the birds broke upon the ear, and then followed – as the light began to increase – a column of smoke rising from first one cottage chimney and then another, proclaiming the fact that another day had dawned, and bringing to the writer’s mind the words of the Psalmist. ‘Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening’.

When the day had fully dawned, and the wonderful scene was fully revealed, it was difficult to believe that whilst such peace and beauty lay all around, the carnage of war raged on the Continent of Europe.

I have endeavoured in this short book to put on record some of the facts relating to our Church and parish, primarily for the benefit of parishioners; but there may be others also who have a strong affection for our parish and Parish Church, and who will, I trust, find these few notes of interest and value.

Parishioners, I am sure, realize that they have entered into a goodly heritage. Let us therefore be worthy of that heritage and go forward in faith, that the influence of our Church and parish at Viney Hill may become more glorious as a spiritual force, so that the Faith, which the Church proclaims, may shine ever more brightly.

                    Sailors and soldiers weary

                    Of wandering afar

                    Where shines the light to steer ye

                    Homeward like the Star?


                   Where shines it? Surely on Viney

                   Beaconing, beckoning home;


                   Do not old memories twine ye

                   Like tendrils of vine as ye come?


                   To the faith and the Forest that bred ye –

                  Men no more to roam

                  Hath not this lantern led ye?



                 The church, lantern-like ‘glowing;

                 A flag of faith unfurled,

                 Stands it not still there showing

                 ‘The light of the world.’!


F.W.Harvey                                                    ‘High View’, Yorkley, Glos.


Archive retrieval by Richard Chidlaw, recreated for the rest of us by Ken Morse, January 2010

The Lantern of the Hill

Churchwardens Who Have Served the Parish

Daniel Young
Walter Biddington
Alvan James
Richard Thorn
James James
William Wyman
William Hawkins
Frances Kear
Joseph Adams
John Davis
George Johnson
John Turner
Tom Forrester Worgan
Robert Johnson
George Cook
Frances Baber
Jesse Worgan
Philip Phipps
Reginald Collard
William Willetts
Cameron Riley Johnson
William Henry Wintle
William Henry Wintle
William Albert Davis
John Henry Lancaster
Stanley Moulton Lowe
Frederick James Morse
Frank Austin Cooper
Harold Lancelot Turley

Poem suggested by the sight of Viney Hill Church, and Mr Johnson’s pamphlet recently printed by the Forest of Dean Press.

The author has, at one time or another, held almost every office open to laymen in the Church – Vicar’s Warden, Sunday School Superintendent, Schools Corresponding Manager and during the last ‘inter-regnum, Magazine Editor. The manner in which he has discharged his duties amply demonstrates his love for the Church. At present he is Choir-master and Vice-Chairman of the Parochial Church Council, and I know of no one better equipped for the task he has now completed, a task which is indeed a labour of love.

To have been asked to write this brief foreword is a privilege and a pleasure. I do so gladly, trusting that all who have the best interests of our Church at heart will, by reading these historical notes, be inspired to even greater loyalty, devotion and service to the Church on the Hill. In that way the author’s dearest hopes in offering this booklet to the public will be amply fulfilled.

Emrys Evans.    All Saints Vicarage, Viney Hill              January 16th 1952.

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