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STRANGE THINGS
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The Cotswold village of Coberley

The Cotswold Village of Coberley

Coberley is situated 4 Miles SSE from Cheltenham on the A435 Cheltenham to Cirencester road. This small village is picturesque and peacefully located at the head of the Churn Valley. The village church of St. Giles, which can be accessed by going through an arched doorway and private garden of a farm, has many unique and rare memorials, including the 'heart burial' of Sir Giles de Berkeley, which is the only memorial of this kind to be found in the Cotswolds. Strangely, Sir Giles's horse, Lombard, is buried in the churchyard also.

St Giles church at the Cotswold village of Coberley
St. Giles Church
Archway entrance to St Giles Church
Archway entrance to St. Giles Church

It is unique in that the 14th century parish church of St Giles has the only “Heart” burial recorded in the Cotswolds; it is also unusual that a horse was buried in the churchyard. The church has much earlier origins and has a number of interesting memorials.

It was in 1294 that Sir Giles De Berkeley died and his heart was buried here, a memorial recording this was erected and can be seen.

His favourite horse, Lombard, was buried in the churchyard and his burial place can also be seen, this is marked by a stone, which is situated in the churchyard directly in line with the heart burial of his master in the south wall of the sanctuary beside the altar table.

Monument in commemoration of the burial of Sir Giles Berkeley's heart
In memoriam of the burial of
Sir Giles Berkeley's heart
Tomb of Sir Giles Berkeley and wife
Tomb of Sir Giles Berkeley and Wife
Plaque on heart burial monument
Plaque at base of heart burial monument

Sir Giles died at Little Malvern where it is thought that he may have gone for health reasons and to take benefit of the mineral waters. It was his wish that he be buried at the church of St.Giles Little Malvern, so his body was placed to rest here and his heart to be buried at St Giles, Coberley.

Giles was the Son of William De Berkeley and Dionisia  De Turbeville. They had 2 sons, Nicholas and Giles who was born in 1240.

The importance of the burial of Sir Giles's horse in such a sacred place emphasises the regard and esteem that the Berkeley family were held. They were generous benefactors to the church and had gifted land to the priory.

Burial stone for Lombard, Giles Berkeley's horse in the church yard
The burial headstone for Sir Giles Berkeley's horse - Lombard

Sir Giles was a close friend of Prince Edward  (later to become King Edward I); he served with him on a crusade to the Holy Land and was abroad for several years. Effigies of his son Sir Thomas and his wife are also to be seen in the church at Coberley.

Coberley and Little Malvern were also connected to the man of fame, Dick Whittington, for Giles son married Joan, daughter of Geoffrey Archer of Bishop Cleeve and after his death she married Sir William Whittington of Pauntley and so became the stepmother to Dick Whittington.

Many Roman mosaics have been unearthed in the Cotswolds. Coberley was one of the sites, in 2003 a mosaic was discovered, it was viewed, recorded and reburied for preservation purposes.

However in 2007 the site was visited and again excavated by TVs Channel 4 Time Team, they spent the customary 3 days exploring the site with the scientific devices that allow them to carry out an intensive investigation. The results were pleasing, coins, broaches and buckles were in amongst the artefacts found and further mosaics were discovered and the site was identified as being that of a Roman Villa.

See details of Chedworth Village and Chedworth Roman Villa 10 miles from Coberley.

The village also once had a Castle and an underground passage found may have a drain connected to it, but there is now no visible evidence of this now, however it does stress the importance of the area, which also had 2 manors.

See information on other Strange Things in the Cotswolds.

 

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