St Denys, Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire

Feature Sets (2)


Stanford in the Vale is a large village in the Vale of the White Horse, 5 miles NW of Wantage.  It has two village greens, Upper Green and Church Green, of which the latter is dominated by the low and broad mass of St Denys church.  The only Romanesque sculpture surviving from the original aisleless church decorates the S doorway. The N doorway is of c.1300.


Stanford in the Vale was held by Siward under Edward the Confessor and by Henry de Ferrers in 1086. It was assessed at 40 hides before the Conquest although Edward is said to have allowed it as 30. In 1086 it was only valued at 6 hides.


Exterior Features


Nave N doorway

Pointed and of 2 orders under a porch. This is the main doorway to the church, facing onto the entrance from the village green.

Height of opening 2.28vm
Width of opening 1.17 m
1st order

Plain and continuous with a chamfer.

2nd order

Cylindrical nook-shafts on low attic bases. The E capital has fluted leaves on the angles with crockets at the tips, and the W has similar leaves without the crockets. The arch has an angle roll with a fillet and face and soffit hollows, and a quirked hollow chamfered label.

Nave S doorway

Round-headed, of two orders. The porch over this doorway is now kept locked and used as a furniture store, accessible only from the interior of the church, hance the more recent photographs are not as one might wish.

E capital
h. inc. necking 0.23 m
h. without necking 0.195 m
max. w., S face 0.135 m
max. w., W face 0.235 m
W capital
h. inc. necking 0.23 m
h. without necking 0.195 m
max. w., E face 0.235 m
max. w., S face 0.105 m
h. of opening 2.27 m
w. of opening 1.15 m
1st order

Plain, continuous with pointed arch may be later.

2nd order

Nook shafts supporting scallop capitals with recessed shields. Both capitals have three scallops on the outer (S) face, the central one slightly lower than the others, and two on the inner (E or W) face. The scallops on the W capital are slightly trumpet-shaped, those on the E capital straight. Imposts are quirked hollow chamfered. In the arch, a roll on the angle. Another roll outside this has horse-shoe cusping with bifurcated tips, similar to West Hanney, N doorway, second order. This is only visible in places owing to the encroachment of the porch.


Stylistically the S doorway is earlier than the N: c.1180 as opposed to c.1200. The horse-shoe cusping on the former may indicate some connection with St Nicolas, Abingdon and West Hanney, although the sculpture at Stanford-in-the-Vale is not so rich. Copying seems likelier than a direct workshop link.


  • C.E. Keyser, 'Notes on the Churches of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Hatford and Sheelingford, and the Chapels of Goosey and Baulking', Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal 20 (1914), 1-9, 33-37, 65-72, 97-102.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 226-27.

  • G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire.  New Haven and London 2010, 529-30.

  • Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 478-85.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 342 936 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Berkshire
now: Oxfordshire
medieval: Salisbury
now: Oxford
now: St Denys
medieval: St Denys (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
06 May 1990, 02 December 2013