Guarlford History Group

St Mary's church interior and benefactors


St Mary's, built in 1844, is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in Malvern, and if you look carefully you will find many small plaques and memorials relating to past worshippers, church wardens, the clergy and benefactors.

This page is about the people named in the east window above the altar, individuals named on the plaque above the main door, and their families.

More historic information about the church and some past members of the congregation can be found by clicking the links below

St Mary church circa 1900

St Mary's church interior and memorials

St Mary's churchyard

Index of names

By clicking the bookmarks below you can go straight to the section about the person you are interested in.

Frederick Lygon 6th Earl Beauchamp

Edward Archer, wine merchant

John Bell, ironmonger

Revd William Joseph Fancourt

Archdeacon Revd Thomas Fancourt

Revd William M Fancourt

John Archer, hotel proprietor

The east window

The east window of the church (see photo below) contains three memorials to Victorian benefactors, Frederick Lygon 6th Earl Beauchamp, Edward Archer and John Bell.

East window of St Mary Guarlford

Frederick Lygon 6th Earl Beauchamp

At the bottom of the left hand window you will find the inscription,

To the glory of God and in grateful memory of Frederick Lygon VIth Earl Beauchamp, died Feb 19th 1891 aged 60 years.


Lygon memorial window

Frederick Lygon born in 1830 was the son of General Henry Lygon of Madresfield Court. Frederick was a high churchman.

The Lygon family were instrumental in the construction and improvements to,

  • St Mary, Guarlford, built 1844

  • St Leonard's, Newland, present church built 1864

  • St Mary, Madresfield, present church built 1867

  • St Matthias, Malvern Link, rebuilt 1881

More about the history of the Lygon family can be found in ref 1.

Edward Archer

At the bottom of the middle window you will find the inscription,

To the glory of God and in loving memory of Edward Archer of Great Malvern died March 18th 1892 aged 65 years.

Memorial to Edward Archer

Edward Archer, born 1827 in Great Malvern, was the son of Victorian hotel proprietor John Archer (see more about below).

He helped his father with the family hotel businesses and ran a Wine and Spirits business on the Worcester Road near the Foley Arms Hotel. In the 1881 census he was described as a wine merchant employing four clerks, one traveller and six porters. It appears he never married. His name also appears on the Archer Family Monument in The Priory churchyard Great Malvern.

John Bell

At the bottom of the right hand window you will find the inscription,

To the glory of God and in memory of John Bell of Peckham Grove who died June 21st 1890 aged 77 years.

John Bell was the brother-in-law of Guarlford curate William Joseph Fancourt.

Memorial to John Bell

Little was known about John Bell until recently, and at first sight you might imagine that John Bell had come from the borough of Peckham in London.

In fact Peckham Grove was the name of an old black and white cottage situated approximately opposite the 'Three Horsehoes' pub at Poolbrook. Nowadays it is known as Littlewood House and largely hidden by trees and a tall fence.

Lady Aphia Lyttelton, another benefactor of the town, had lived for a while at Peckham Grove, circa 1820, before she built Peachfield House, which lies just south of St Andrew's church at Poolbrook.

In more recent times, Polly Cartland, the mother of novelist Dame Barbara Cartland, lived at Peckham Grove. Barbara Cartland's daughter was the step-mother of Diana Frances Spencer, Princess of Wales.

John Bell, born Knightwick in Worcestershire about 1817, was the son of clergyman John Bell MA, Rector of Knightwick and Doddenham who was instituted in 1817 and came originally from Wakefield in Yorkshire.

Previously John Bell (senior) had been a master at the Cathedral Close School, Salisbury, where his three daughters were born - Agnes Bell, Anne Wilberforce Bell and Mary Augusta Bell (see more about below).

John Bell (junior) first married Emma Bussey (1814 - 1851). Their son John William Bussey Bell (1843 - 1920) became a clergyman like his grandfather and was vicar of Pyrton near Wallingford in Oxfordshire.

Emma's sister Anna Bussey married Samuel Smith, and their son Sheldon  Craddock Smith, born 1830 Aldgate London, emigrated to Australia where he died in 1897.

John Bell (junior) married, second, in 1856, Emily Jane Townshend Russell (1827 - 1915) who in 1851 was living at Peckham Grove with her parents, sister Isabella and an uncle William. Emily continued to live at Peckham Grove after her marriage, until her death in 1915, an occupancy of at least 64 years.

The 1881 census records John Bell's 'private means' as Land, Houses and Dividends. In 1861 John had been living at Claines and then his occupation had been recorded as an ironmonger.

John Bell and his second wife, Emily Jane Townshend Russell, are buried in the churchyard of St Mary, Guarlford.

Memorial to John Bell and his wife Emily JaneWe have often walked up the path from the east gate of St Mary's towards the church past John Bell's memorial. This is situated by a large yew tree (see photo opposite), and it would be nice if one day the memorial could be levelled before it topples over.

The inscription on the base of the memorial is covereed by grey lichen so is not easily read, but here is what it says,

To the memory of

John Bell

who died 21st June 1890

aged 77 years

Also of Emily Jane

Townshend wife of the

above, died April 16th

1915 aged 88 years


The west window

The photo below shows the west window at the back of the church.

The west window gifted by the 7th Earl Beauchamp was added in 1906 to improve the lighting in the church, but unfortunately that weakened the structure so the bell tower had to be removed.

View towards main door of St Mary Guarlford

Above the door is a large plaque (see photo below).

Plaque at rear of church

The purpose of the plaque was simply to advise the congregation that seats in the church could not be bought or reserved.

Here is what it says,

This chapel was erected in the year 1844. It contains one hundred and eighty four sittings, and in consequence of a Grant from the Incorporated Society for promoting the enlargement, building and repairing of Churches and Chapels, the whole of that number are hereby declared to be free and unappropriated for ever.

A plan showing the number and situation of the free seats is fixed up in the vestry room.


Vicar: Revnd J Wright MA FRS

Churchwardens: William Joseph Fancourt and John Archer


Revd John Wright was the vicar of Great Malvern Priory from 1844 to 1850. William Joseph Fancourt was a curate at Malvern Priory and its vicar, John Wright, almost certainly appointed William, his curate, to be one of the first churchwardens. John Archer was probably the hotel proprietor of Great Malvern mentioned above (father of Edward Archer).

Revd William Joseph Fancourt

The plaque above the door of St Mary indicates William was appointed a churchwarden when the 'chapel of ease' opened in 1844.

The list of incumbents on the north wall further records that William, Curate of Malvern Priory, became the second incumbent of St Mary in 1846, following on from Revd Francis H Romney.

John Noake in The Rambler (1848) briefly referred to Revd W J Fancourt as

'a gentleman who is much beloved for his active and zealous pursuit of his christian duties'.

The 1851 census recorded William Joseph Fancourt born Shoreditch, London, about 1810 living at or near New House on the Guarlford Road with his wife Agnes and seven children. His occupation was recorded as Curate of St Mary's chapel which was then a 'Chapel of Ease' under the jurisdiction of Great Malvern Priory.

William's father was clergyman Revd Thomas Fancourt (1771 - 1857).

Sadly William died in 1852 at the early age of 42, leaving a widow Agnes and seven young children. He is buried near the north east corner of the church.

Even more sadly his youngest children Charles 2, and Edward 4 died not long after in 1853.

William had married Agnes Bell, sister of John Bell, at Knightwick on 30th March 1837. After her husband's death Agnes Fancourt lived at Peachfield Cottage in Hayes Bank Road, near her brother John at Peckham Grove.

John's sister Anne Wilberforce Bell (1808-1867) married, Artist, Edward Fancourt (1808-1849) who was William's brother. Edward like William died at a young age.

John's sister Mary Augusta Bell (1806-1895) daughter of clergyman John Bell (senior) married, land surveyor, William Porter (1791-1858). They had several children, and their eldest son William Edward Porter (1832-1909) became an analytical chemist.

Thomas Fancourt

Thopmas Fancourt (1840-1919)Thomas Fancourt, son of William, (who was probably Guarlford's first churchwarden) born Malvern 1840, has a fascinating story.

He was educated at Lancing College, Sussex, and trained as a missionary at Canterbury.

In 1865 he married Elizabeth Emma Robinson in Leeds and emigrated to New Zealand where he was ordained.

He became Archdeacon of Wellington New Zealand and died in 1919. He is buried in Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington, New Zealand, alongside his wife who died in 1903.

Click the links below to find out more.

Obituary 1

Obituary 2

Thomas was survived by a son, William (see below), and three daughters.

Revd William M Fancourt

William, grandson of our Guarlford churchwarden, born New Zealand  6th March 1870, attended Caius College Cambridge and became a clergyman like his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him!

John Archer

John Archer born about 1791 died Great Malvern 1877 was a local hotel proprietor. He took over the Foley Arms Hotel from Joseph Downs, who had built the hotel about 1810. The family at various times also had an interest in the Abbey Hotel, the Mount Pleasant Hotel, and the Crown Hotel on Belle Vue Terrace (ref 2).

Click to read more about the Archer family


1. Mulvagh Jane, Madresfield, The Real Brideshead, first published by Doubleday, 2008.

2. Hobbs Tony, The Pubs of the Malverns, Upton and nearby villages, Logaston Press, 2012.

3. England and Wales census from 1841 to 1911.

4. Photo of Thomas Fancourt circa 1900 from a book credited to the National Library of New Zealand.

5. Guarlford St Mary register of burials.

Research by: Angus and Rosemary McCulloch

Click to read more about William Joseph Fancourt and his family

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Last updated 25th March 2014