Sandford St Martin is a remote village in N Oxfordshire, 6 miles SE of Chipping Norton. It is in the area of the iron-rich Hornton limestone that extends NE from there. The church is thought to date from the late C12th, when it was a chapel of Steeple Barton nearby, and probably consisted of nave and chancel. The narrow N aisle of three bays was added to the nave c. 1200. Extensive alterations in the mid-C13th are believed to have prompted its dedication in 1273. The S aisle was added, the chancel was remodelled and the present chancel arch added, making decorative use of the varying colours of the Horton stone. There is a Decorated S doorway and porch, and a Perpendicular clerestory and W tower. The chancel arch was retained when the chancel was demolished and rebuilt in the C19th. Romanesque features include the Transitional N aisle with two short octagonal piers, the S chancel doorway and a decorated tub font.
The manor was held by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux in 1086, and by Adam, son of Hubert de Ryes, from him. It was rated at 14 hides less one virgate, with 100 acres of meadow, pasture 4 furlongs by 3, and a furlong of spinney. There was also a mill. Later it was held as part of the Steeple Barton manor by the St John family, and remained in their possession until the mid C16th. The church was a chapelry of Steeple Barton throughout the Middle Ages, although it was often called a church because it had a dependent chapelry in Ledwell, and an endowed vicarage. In 1977 it became part of the United Benefice of Westcote Barton with Duns Tew, Sandford St Martin and Steeple Barton.
|h. of opening||1.52 m|
|w. of opening||0.61 m|
Three bays with Transitional pointed arches.
1st order. Arches plain, double-chamfered with a plain hood to S and N. All bays similar.
Pier 1. Octagonal base, with two convex chamfers at the top. Shaft octagonal, short and sturdy. Neck plain. Capital/impost a plain projecting irregular octagon with a vertical above a deep hollow chamfer. To E, S, W, and N the sides of the octagon are shorter than those on the alternate sides, forming a deeply scooped lip.
Pier 2. Base deeper than Pier 1, with a single deep plain chamfer with a shallow convex one above. Shaft and neck as Pier 1. Capital octagonal with a deep hollow chamfer, the same on all sides. Impost plain and vertical with a chamfer below.
Located on the N side of the nave, close to pier 2 and almost opposite the S door, a font of oolitic limestone, originally tub-shaped. The bottom half of the tub has been roughly chamfered into an octagonal shape to fit a small octagonal base that sits on a larger modern square block of two layers. Lead lining present, extending over the top edge. Lock damage on the N face.
|external diam. of bowl||0.72 m|
|h. of bowl||0.46 m|
|internal diam. of bowl||0.53 m|
Decorated with a continuous band of ten chevrons, formed of three parallel deeply incised grooves. The ten spaces between the upper points contain different motifs, but most are incomplete at the top. From the E face, clockwise:
1. E, the three lower diamond-shaped lobes of a four-lobed pattern.
2. SE, blank or illegible.
3. SE, a star shape with four or five radiating arms.
4. S, a crucifix with incised arms, the vertical incomplete at top.
5, 6. SW, incised variants of scroll patterns, incomplete at top.
7. W, a chip-carved star or flower with six rays.
8. NW, incised scroll patterns like 5 and 6, incomplete at top.
9. N, an upright tree with scroll-like leaves, incomplete above and damaged at upper left (probably lock damage).
10. NE, the base and two lateral arms of an incomplete crucifix or Maltese cross.
Sandford St Martin P.C.C., St Martin's Church, Sandford St Martin. A Guide to the Church and the Churchyard (Sandford, 2009).
J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974), pp. 750-1.
Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 11 (London, 1983), p. 178.