St Mary's Church, Driffield, GL7 5PZ
Until the dissolution of the monasteries, St Mary's was in the possession of Cirencester Abbey and the last Abbot, called Blake, was retired on a pension of £200 per year to Driffield. Here he is said to be buried in a tomb.
The church porch contains a niche and over the door is part of a Norman tympanum. The chancel is 13th century in form, and has an unflustered wagon rood.
Two restorations of the medieval interior have been carried out; the first in 1734, in the Wren style; the second in 1863 in the gothic style. The pulpit, dated 1734, and the charming box pews are nearly all that is left of the first restoration.
The East Window, dated 1865, is in memory of Robert Nelson, author of "The Fasts and Festivals" (1719) and one of the founders of SPCK. He bequeathed a chalice and paton dated 1704, to the church. The Parish records show that he subscribed, together with Squire Hanger and others to "Contributions at Driffield given to the Briefs for ye Repairations of St Paul's Church in London, 1678". The Parish raised 5 guineas!
The Hanger Family
The first Hanger to be the Squire of Driffield was John, a 'Turkey Merchant', in 1651. The last was Colonel George Hanger. Wounded at Charlottestown, eccentric author, a profligate rake, he was a boon companion of the Price Regent until "his manners became too free and coarse for the Royal taste."
The families memorials can be seen in the chancel. The writers of such tablets were past masters in the art of extolling the virtues of the departed, in the case of the Hanger family, their skills is extended to the limit!
'Here liveth in expectation of the last day, Gabriel Hanger, Lord Coelraine 1773, what manner of man he was that day will disclose'. And for George Hanger, 1824, 'He lived and died a firm Believer in One God and in One God only. He was also a practical Christian as far as his frail nature did allow him to be so'.