St Mary Magdalene, Balscote, Oxfordshire

Feature Sets (3)

Description

Balscote, formerly Balscott, is a hamlet in NE Oxfordshire, 4.5 miles NW of Banbury. The small ironstone church of St Mary Magdalene is now a 14thc. building, comprising a chancel, nave and S aisle with a slender S tower over the porch. Repairs and restorations were carried out in 1800-23, 1873 and 1921-7 (VCH). However, it retains a few features from its 12thc. origins: a fragment of a tympanum re-used in the N nave wall, some re-used internal nave corbels and a plain tub font.

History

In 1086 Balscote, assessed at 5 hides, was part of the fief of Bishop Odo of Bayeux and was held by Wadard, one of his most influential and wealthy tenants. Like Wadard's other lands, Balscote afterwards formed part of the barony of Arsic, of which Cogges was the head. The overlordship was held by the Arsic family in the 12thc. and 13thc.

Balscote was originally a dependent chapel of Wroxton Priory. It now belongs to the Ironstone Benefice that comprises Alkerton, Balscote, Drayton, Hanwell, Horley, Hornton, Shenington and Wroxton.

Features

Interior Features

Vaulting/Roof Supports

Nave corbels

The nave has three corbels on each side supporting the roof beams but only two are identifiable as probable re-used Romanesque ones. 

Nave corbels, N wall

Nave corbels, numbered from E to W, N wall N1-3:

N1, at NE corner, a beast head, perhaps a bear, with a nose harness, drilled small round eyes, and slightly open mouth.

N2, a later 13thc. or 14thc. head.

N3, blank.

Nave corbels, S wall

Nave corbels, numbered from E to W, S wall S1-S3:

S1, at SE corner, damaged and unidentifiable.

S2, a human or monkey-like face on a square block of stone framed by striations on three sides, vertical carved striations at the top and diagonal on both sides. Ears placed high on the head like a monkey, with eyes (and lids), nose and mouth.

S3 blank.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Interior Decoration

Miscellaneous

Arched carved stone

Mounted on the N nave wall, decorating a round-headed recess, is an arched stone, possibly part of a tympanum. The apex of the arch carries two petals of what was probably a 4-petalled, perhaps compass-drawn, flower design. The lower edge is chamfered and a small notch has been cut into the soffit to give the arch a slight ogee shape. The recess itself now houses a memorial tablet.

Furnishings

Fonts

Font

Located W of the S doorway, against the S nave wall. Tub font, tapered with a lower double roll moulding, standing on a later chamfered base. It has a lead lining which extends on to the exterior (and is edged with a zigzag pattern).

Dimensions
external diameter 0.76 m
h. of bowl 0.57 m
internal diameter 0.58 m
overall height 0.72 m

Comments/Opinions

Bibliography

  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 428.

  • Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 9 (1969), 171-188 (under Wroxton).

Location

Site Location
Balscote
National Grid Reference
SP 390 417 
Boundaries
now: Oxfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
Diocese
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
Dedication
now: St Mary Magdalene
medieval:
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Janet Newson 
Visit Date
18 Sept 2012