Painswick is a town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England. Originally the town grew on the wool trade, but it is now best known for its parish church’s yew trees and the local Rococo Garden. The town is mainly constructed of locally quarried Cotswold stone. Many of the buildings feature south-facing attic rooms once used as weavers’ workshops.
Painswick stands on a hill in the Stroud district, overlooking one of the Five Valleys. Its narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of the English village.
The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary is a Grade I listed building. A priest in Painswick is noted in the Domesday Book and so it is assumed that there was also a church here at that time. Evidence suggests that it was built between 1042 and 1066 by Ernesi, a rich Anglo Saxon thegn who was then Lord of the Manor.
After the Norman conquest the Lordship passed to the family of de Laci, the patron saint of which was Saint Peter. In 1377 the chapel at the north side of the church was rebuilt and dedicated to St. Peter. This is the oldest part of the church. Shortly afterwards the north aisle was added. By this time the de Laci family had given the living to the Prior and Canons of Llanthony Priory who had spiritual oversight of the parish until the Reformation.
The nave and tower were built about 1480 and by 1550 the sanctuary has taken its present form. The spire was not added until 1632. The church remained in this form until the English Civil War when it was occupied by Parliamentarians in 1644. The Royalists recaptured the village, however, after severe fighting. Bullet and cannon shot marks remain on the church tower to this day. The church was greatly damaged by fire.
In 1657 a gallery was added to the north aisle. In 1740 the south aisle was built with a gallery above. A west gallery was added in 1840. In 1877 the church was restored by public subscription. The font dates from 1661 and replaced one destroyed during the civil war. The Royal arms over the entrance door are those of William IV.
The imposing tomb was occupied by three different families and suffered in the fire of 1644. The First World War screen was carved by a Belgian refugee and lists all those from Painswick who served and the names of those who died in gold.
The organ was originally built in the 18th century by Sneltzer but only the casing remains. The present instrument was installed by Nicholson of Worcester.
A bell ringers’ society was formed in 1686 and the ringers are still known as the “Ancient Society of Painswick Youths”. Before 1731 there were eight bells, but the ring was augmented in 1732 and in 1819 by four further bells. In 1986 to celebrate the tercentenary of the society a thirteenth bell was added and the clock face restored. In 1993 the addition of an extra treble bell, made possible by a generous donation, completed the present ring of fourteen bells.
In the churchyard Painswick has a fine collection of chest tombs and monuments from the early 17th century onwards, carved in local stone by local craftsmen. The oldest tomb, with fossils on the top, is of William Loveday, Yeoman, dated 1623. Clifton-Taylor describes the churchyard, with its tombs and yews, as “the grandest churchyard in England”.
Info taken from here