SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS OCCURRING BEFORE AND AFTER
THE WORCESTER CONSISTORY COURT DECREE
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The Parish Church of Stone was originally built as a Chapel of Ease to the Church of Saint Mary at Berkeley, in the middle of the thirteenth century. Robert de Stone, in 1285, gave land and rent in Berkeley for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate divine service for ever in the Chapel of Stone.
In the 1380s John Trevisa was Vicar of Berkeley, and it was during this time that, at the instigation of the Dean of Westbury, four lay officials of Stone Chapel lodged an official complaint in the Worcester Consistory Court against John Trevisa. They accused him of denying the parishioners of Stone their rights (long established) of having sacraments and services administered by their own chaplain. The Consistory Court found for the plaintiffs, and ordered John Trevisa to provide them with a chaplain at the expense of his Berkeley vicarage. There was no appeal, and later the judgement was confirmed.
Following this judgement, on 25th May 1388, a group from Berkeley, including Trevisa, went at night, armed, to Westbury College, dragged out the Dean, and under threat of death forced him to confess that he had conspired against Trevisa and had lied co the Consistory Court. The Dean wrote and complained to the Bishop of Worcester, who on 7th August 1388 met at Hartlebury with the Archdeacon and Abbot of St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester. As a result, a new enquiry was held at Berkeley castle, presided over by Lord Berkeley and the Bishop's representatives. The churchwardens of Stone were found to have lied on oath to the Consistory Court. The punishment was:
“On the next four Sundays at noon you, each and all, come sickness, wind or weather, will go in procession round Stone Church, clad in your shift, and bearing a wax candle of one pound weight in your hand. You wilI proclaim loudly and as Iong as the candle lasts that you have committed gross perjury. The next two Sundays you will do it at Berkeley.”
If they failed to fulfill these orders they would be imprisoned by Lord Berkeley at his pleasure. They each must pay a fine of half a mark to the Manor Court. Nevertheless, the original judgement of the Consistory Court stood and Stone got its own Chaplain, Thomas Norton, and the case marked the beginning of independence from Berkeley Church. The village had cause to be grateful to the four who dared to bring the Court action. They were :
John Sergeant, John Guliane, Stephen Hykedon and William Chapman.