Many thanks to Anne Seymour, our Reader, for all of this information and for all the images.
Since Norman times Littleworth (Amberley) was part of Minchinhampton and people walked across the Common to their Parish Church there.
A strong free-church tradition grew up in the 18th Century. John Wesley and George Whitefield are both said to have come to the Stroud area and there is a little hillock on the Common near Moor Court, called “Whitfield’s Tump”, where George Whitefield is said to have preached to a huge crowd of people. There still exists a licence for services to be held on that little hillock. As well as services in the open air, several of the cottages were used for worship and in 1790 the Littleworth Wesleyan Chapel was built. After 200 years of very active life this Chapel was closed and sold and its congregation, small by then, joined Amberley Parish Church, which became a Local Ecumenical Project in 1990. The Vestry, renamed The New Room, has been retained and is used for prayer by the joint congregation.
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. Two rows of iron pillars rise up through the Room and the Church to support the roof over. In the 1960s these pillars were covered in a considerable thickness of plaster, according to some, to the detriment of the proportions of the Church. 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.