A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Daylesford – The Grisewood Rector and his Convert Cousin

Daylesford – The Grisewood Rector and his Convert Cousin

One dreary wet afternoon, a couple of years ago, I revisited Daylesford Church, one of Pearson’s early works, and was disappointed to find the building locked and looking rather sad. Weeds in the gutters indicated poor maintenance and the signage looked shabby and unenticing. However, I had happy memories of earlier visits so I dashed back to the car determined to discover whether the church was now redundant and what, if anything, was planned for it.

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to read that, since 2017, the church has been vested in a special trust and that it is now available for occasional Anglican and Roman Catholic worship. The Catholic ‘chaplain’ was not known to me but, of course Daylesford is technically in the Archdiocese of Birmingham as Daylesford was still an outlying parish in the county of Worcestershire when the Roman Catholic hierarchy was restored in 1850. Father Paul Berrett is a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Clearly, Daylesford Church is now in good hands and, unlike so many other Victorian churches, it has a bright and secure future.

Why is this Anglican place of worship available for Roman Catholic worship? Is it a kind ecumenical gesture or is it a response to the religious affiliation of today’s residents – after all Anthony Bamford of Daylesford House was brought up as a Roman Catholic and attended Ampleforth? There is, however, another possible reason for this initiative and this takes us back to the nineteenth century and to two cousins, both members of the Grisewood Family.

St Peter’s Church, Daylesford, was re-built for the stockbroker, Harman Grisewood, between the years 1859 and 1863 and John Loughborough Pearson (1817-1897), the architect, commenced his plans for it in 1857. Interestingly, the medieval church had been re-built by Warren Hastings in 1816 but his successor at Daylesford, Harman Grisewood, did not consider his creation suitable for the more fashionable forms of Tractarian worship that were emerging during the 1860s.

Alan Brooks captured the feel of the new building when he wrote in his Pevsner Guide for the Cotswolds:

‘The style is Early French Geometrical, as vigorously High Gothic as anything Pearson designed, and it is apparent that no expense was spared. The influence of William Burges is quite obvious; in fact the vigorously carved detail … was executed by Burges’s favourite sculptor, Thomas Nicholls.’

The Daylesford Estate was sold to the stockbroker, Harman Grisewood in 1853 and he owned the property until his death on 17th November 1871. During his tenure many of the cottages on the estate were built and the village took on the character which visitors and residents so enjoy today.

Who was Harman Grisewood? Well he was born on 1st June 1821, son of George and Eleanor Grisewood, and baptised at St Mary’s Finchley on 3rd July. He married Elizabeth Blackmore and, on the night of the 1851 census, they were listed, together with their elder son William, at a house on Wandsworth Common. Harman was described as a twenty-nine-year-old share jobber. Their younger son, Harman, who was not at home, was born on 15th March 1844 at Maida Vale and baptised at St Marylebone on 1st May.

When Harman Grisewood died, aged fifty, he not only held the Daylesford Estate but also his London home in Hill Street, Berkeley Square. Harman’s brother, Henry Grisewood, was another successful stockbroker and he lived with his family in Chesham Place, off Belgrave Square. Henry died in 1874 aged fifty. One of Henry’s sons was the Reverend Arthur George Grisewood and he held the living of Daylesford from 1882 until his death in 1918.


Memorial to Harman Grisewood (1821-1971)

Both Harman and his brother, Henry, are buried in the churchyard at Daylesford and the description for the listing of their monuments is as follows:

‘Henry and Harman Grisewood monument in the churchyard of the Church of St. Peter c 4.5m east of east end of chancel GV II Monument on right to Henry Grisewood, died 1874, Anne his wife died 1893 and their sons Frederick died 1876 and Henry died 1886. Monument on left to Harman Grisewood died 1871. Limestone. Henry Grisewood monument; recumbent stone with raised central ridge running east-west. Upright monument at west end of Henry Grisewood on square plinth with moulded capping. Inscriptions within pointed blind arches flanked by columns with foliate capitals on east and west faces of monument above, female figures one leaning on an anchor, one holding a lily within arches on north and south sides respectively, foliate decoration in spandrels, moulded capping above with brattishing. Conical spirelet above with cross finial at apex. Monument to Harman Grisewood c2m south; recumbent stone with raised central ridge, square cross shaft on stepped square base at west end. Figure of angel within gabled niche half-way up shaft. Harman Grisewood was patron to the building of the Church of St. Peter (q.v.).’

We now come to the cousins, Harman and Arthur George Grisewood. After Rugby, Arthur George Grisewood studied at Christ Church, Oxford. He matriculated on 10th October 1873, aged eighteen, received his B.A. in 1877 and M.A. in 1880. He was deaconed for Truro Diocese in 1880 and two years later was ordained priest for the Diocese of Worcester. He served his title at St Paul’s Truro before moving to the Parish of Blockley in 1882. Within the year he became the Rector of Daylesford.

The advowson had been sold with the manor to Harman Grisewood who left it in his will to his brother, Henry, and after, Henry’s death in 1874, this passed to his son Arthur.

Harman Grisewood, Junior, was at least ten years older than his cousin, Arthur. Like him he studied at Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on 18th January 1863, aged eighteen. He gained both his B.A. and M.A. in 1869. During the year that followed he was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In the book, ‘Converts to Rome’ by W. Gordon-Gorman, the author lists under Christchurch, Oxford, ‘The Reverend Harman Grisewood of Daylesford House.’ I have yet to find another reference to Harman being made an Anglican deacon but it has occurred to me that it may have been intended that Harman should become the Rector of Daylesford and that his ‘defection’ led to Arthur fulfilling that role instead.

Certainly, Harman did not pursue the Catholic priesthood as, after his father’s death in 1871, the Daylesford Estate was sold, and young Harman seems to have lived abroad. On 12th June 1876 he married Maria Concetta di Messina in Paris, possibly at Notre Dame. Maria was born in Malta and she and her husband had seven children. In 1901 the family was living in Bognor and Harman Grisewood died in 1909 and his widow in 1934.

Two cousins, Harman and Arthur, one the Rector and the other a Catholic convert. Today their lives seem symbolic – expressing the way in which so many families were divided by matters of conscience and religious affiliation. It is so appropriate that in our own day the beautiful church at Daylesford should have a future open to the rich liturgies of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. Deo Gratias.

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