Since Norman times Littleworth (Amberley) was part of Minchinhampton and people walked across the Common to their Parish Church there.
The Building of Amberley Parish Church
By 1800 the Industrial Revolution was well under way and the population increased all around. The French Revolution caused considerable anxiety among the British Establishment and ways were sought to keep the population from following the example of the French people. Between 1834 and 1846 eight new Anglican churches were built in the Stroud Area.In 1836 the Lord of Hampton Manor was the economist, David Ricardo of Gatcombe Park, now occupied by Princess Anne. It was through the generosity of David Ricardo that Amberley Church was built – as a token of his gratitude to God for the miraculous escape from serious injury of his son, also called David, in a riding accident.
To the Glory of God
and for the good of the people of Amberley
this church was built at the sole charge of David Ricardo, Esq.of Gatcombe Park, Minchin-Hampton
and consecrated to the service of
September, 5th 1836This tablet was erected in the jubilee year of the Church 1886
There is some doubt about the name of the architect, but it may have been a Mr. Stokes of Cheltenham. The builders were George & Daniel Harrison of Kings Stanley who had been involved with the building of the Subscription Rooms in Stroud. The hill was excavated so that the building could stand, according to good biblical teaching, on the rock. There is a Room underneath the Church, originally used as a school. The Church is built in a north/south line to fit in with the contours of the hill. Originally, it had a bell cot over the (ecclesiastically) west end (geographically north), which had to be removed in 1950 as it had become unsafe.
The Gloucester Journal of Saturday 10th September 1836 reported on the consecration:
The consecration of this edifice took place on Monday last, and excited the greatest interest in the surrounding neighbourhood; many parties also went from this town to witness the impressive ceremonial, and there was a very numerous assembly of the manufacturing and labouring population. The Lord Bishop of the Diocese arrived at 11 0’clock, attended by his chaplains, secretary, registrar, etc., and was received at the gate by David Ricardo Esq., and upwards of 30 of the clergy of the Diocese at the door of the church.
The petition was presented and read to his Lordship, praying him to consecrate the church, after which his Lordship proceeded to the vestry, and having robed, passed down the aisles in procession, followed by his clergy repeating the 24th Psalm, until he arrived at the communion table; the deed of conveyance was presented to him, when the Bishop proceeded with the consecration service, after which the sentence of consecration was read by the Chancellor and signed by the Bishop, and laid upon the communion table. The morning service was then commenced by the Rev. Mr Blackwell, the Incumbent.
The church was crowded to excess, there being upwards of 1200 persons within the building, and nearly 2000 persons outside, who were unable to gain admittance. After the service had been read, the Rev. F. Close, our highly respected Incumbent, preached a most impressive and eloquent sermon from Acts v 42 ‘and daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach, Jesus Christ’, which was listened to with the deepest attention, and which we trust the Rev. Gentleman will be induced to publish.
Towards the conclusion of his discourse, while directing the attention of the congregation to the truly Christian munificence of the founder in thus, at his sole expense, building and endowing a church to the service of Almighty God, he took occasion to mention the gratifying fact that although the schools beneath the church had been open only a fortnight, yet they now contained one hundred and eighty three children, all belonging to the immediate surrounding district, and the greatest part of whom had not attended any school. After the conclusion of the sermon, the Bishop proceeded round the church to consecrate the Burial Ground, which concluded the ceremonial.
The church, which has been munificently erected and endowed by Mr. Ricardo, is a very elegant structure in the Gothic style, designed by Mr. Stokes, architect, of Cheltenham, and does honour to the talent of that Gentleman. The western front is a very pleasing composition; over the door, which is reached by a flight of steps, is placed a bold triple window with pointed arches, and above this rises the bell tower; on each flank is a single window in the same style as that over the door way. The arrangement, though simple, has a very excellent effect. The interior accommodations are good, being calculated for 700 persons, exclusive of any galleries which may hereafter be erected. The length of the interior is 82 feet. Its breadth 43 feet and the height 30 feet. The altar piece is placed in an arched recess under the eastern window, and on the right of the altar is a doorway leading into a good-sized v-room. The School rooms are situated under the church, and are both light and airy, being 45 feet by 40 feet, and 13 feet high. The building is warmed with hot water in a very ingenious and effective manner, by Mr. Price, of Birmingham. We should not forget to mention that Mr. Ricardo has not only built a church and school Rooms: but to make his noble act of liberality complete, he has erected a commodious Parsonage House for the Incumbent. Such deeds as these do not require the tongue of praise or adulation to make them known or appreciated.