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A Brief History of St Michael’s Church, Stanley Pontlarge
The earliest reference to church activity here is in the Abbey’s Landboc which records that about 1180, Thomas, the priest of Stanley, held 11 acres under Mucle Meadow. In 1190 he was one of twelve tenants in Gretton paying churchscot ( a contribution of corn) to the Abbey’s farm. It is likely that the church was built by Roger Little, who in about 1175 had married Margery, the daughter of John de Sudeley and built the adjacent moated manor house. The north and the simpler south doorways come from this period, as does the font, the round bowl of which was recut octagonally in the C13th.
In 1310, the parish boundaries and the payment of tithes were rationalized: all of Gretton was allocated to Winchcombe and Stanley Pontlarge to Toddington. The Tracys of Toddington granted the patronage of the church to Hailes Abbey and in 1386 Hailes Abbey appropriated the parish. Two years later the house now known as ‘The Cottage’ was constructed: its design is that of a priest’s house, and it is thought that it was intended as a retreat for the monks of Hailes. In 1403, the Bishop decreed that the Vicar of Toddington should conduct services regularly in St Michael’s: this was rescinded a few years later, presumably because the monks from Hailes could do this. The west window and the piscina were added in the C15th.
In 1539 Hailes Abbey was dissolved and Toddington with Stanley Pontlarge reverted to being a normal parish with its own Vicar. In 1544 on the supposition that St Michael’s was a chantry chapel, the two bells were confiscated and were not replaced until the C16th or C17th. The two beams at the west end may once have supported a gallery in the C17th and C18th. A picture of the church in 1884 in Murray’s Guide shows the church without an east window. This and other neo-Norman windows were probably added by Sir Philip Sidney Smith of Stanton in his extensive restoration in 1924, which also included the reconstruction of the roof. In 1979 St Michael’s was reunited with the parish of Winchcombe. In 1983 it was re-slated and in 2006 a chamber organ was installed.