Origins of the Living of Upper Gravenhurst
The church from the south-east February 2016
In answer to a questionnaire sent out by the Bishop of Lincoln before making a visitation to Bedfordshire the curate of Upper Gravenhurst, Peter D’Aranda laid out the basis for the living. This is set out below and begins with findings of the Court of Augmentations, the body used under Henry VIII (1509-1547) to dissolve the monasteries and other religious houses and under Edward VI (1547-1553) to dissolve chantries. The document quoted is not dated.
“First Fruits Office. Gravenhurst Major: Cantuar [i.e. Canterbury Province]. 106s 8d” [value of the living].
“Augmentation Office. A Chauntry founded to find a Priest to minister sacraments and sacramental, and to bury the dead, Granted by the Archbishop [of Canterbury] and confirmed by King Henry 8 for the ease of the Parishioners, who before went to Shillington Church, a mile distant, and otherwise inconvenient. The said Chauntry is a Parish Church of itselfe, and hath no other Parson or Vicar to the same appertaining or belonging”.
“The Value as above”.
“Ibidem [in the same place]. Upon an Inquisition between the King and the Parish, it was agreed that the Chappell is a Free-Chappell; that certain lands and tenements belonged to it to the Value of £3 per Annum, as also the White Tythes of the said village; that these lands, though not particularly specified for that use, were for the most part given to the Curate; that this Chappell was first founded and ordained as a Chappell of Ease for the inhabitants of the said Village. The Incumbents of the said Chappell have been, time out of mind, charged with the Cure of Soul, and with the ministration of all manner of Sacraments and Sacramentalls”.
“The Vicar of Shillington refused to meddle with it. It was therefore Ordered October 40 4 Edward VI  that the Feoffees shall enjoy the Lands before mentioned, and imploy the profits thereof, in and about finding and maintaining of a Minister to serve in the said Chappell”.
“Commission dated 23 November in the 10th year of the reign of James I , executed 9 August in the following year”.
“Upon Inquisition, an Order and decree made, with the consent of the then Earl of Kent and the Inhabitants of Gravenhurst, for settling the Manour of Shepho and other lands and tenements (out of ehich £3 a year only was before wont to be paid) for the maintaining of a Minister, or Curate, to serve the Cure in the Church or Chappell of Over-Gravenhurst, for repair of the Church etc., the whole being then agreed to be let for £30 a year. That the Muniments of the Estate, and other endowments be kept in a chest within the Church with 4 keys etc.
“Trustees appointed, and 2 Governors to manage the Charity, to be chosen every Easter by the Inhabitants”.
“Ordered that One halfe of the whole Estate “shall be employed and bestowed upon the minister or Curate of the said Church or Chappell for the time being, who shall be Presented or Nominated to the Bishop of the diocese by the said Inhabitants from time to time as heretofore hath usually been accustomed for and towards his Maintenance, so long as He which shall be Minister or Curate there shall be a licensed preacher; and so long only as he shall be ordinarily resident there without absence above 80 days in any One year, and if he shall not be a Licensed Preacher, or shall be Non-resident as before, that then he shall have only £3 yearly out of the rents etc. till He shall be licensed and shall be resident”.