St Margaret, Catmore, Berkshire

Feature Sets (3)


Catmore consists of the church and a farmhouse in the hilly, wooded farmland of west Berkshire. The church has a single nave and chancel. Nave has a 19thc. bellcote on the W gable and opposed N and S doorways, both 12thc. The S doorway, described below, is protected by a porch with a neo-Norman external doorway. The N doorway, not described, is completely plain and headed by a segmental chamfered arch. There is a 12thc. font decorated with beakhead.


Catmore was held by Eadsige in 1066 and by Henry from Henry de Ferrers in 1086. It was assessed at 5 hides in 1066 and 3 hides in 1086.  The overlordship remained with the Ferrers until it was forfeited in 1266 and given to the Earls of Lancaster, where it stayed until Henry Bolinbroke became king in 1399, when it passed to the crown. The descent of the tenancy is complex and the reader is referrred to VCH, but the advowson of the church was claimed by the Knights Hospitaller in the reign of Richard I.


Exterior Features


S doorway, nave

Round-headed, single continuous order. The doorway, of oolitic limestone, has a plain chamfered continuous order. Roll-and-chamfer label with a single row of billet on the chamfer. At the apex is a single bird beakhead, its beak gripping the roll of the label.

h. of opening 2.18m
w. of opening 0.99m




W end of nave, offset to N. The font is also of oolitic limestone and consists of a cylindrical 12thc. bowl, probably cut down so that only upper part survives. This is set on a modern cylindrical column, on a modern chamfered cylindrical plinth. The 12thc. bowl is carved in a deep band around its rim with an extremely weathered design of beakheads alternating with simple foliage motifs.

circumference of bowl 2.42m
ext. diameter of bowl 0.76m
h. of bowl 0.24m
int. diameter of bowl 0.55m


The decoration of a font with beakhead is most unusual, and the presence of a beakhead on the doorway too implies that both belong to the same campaign, although the font is so badly preserved as to make attribution to the same workshop extremely speculative. Despite the beakhead, the chamfered doorway with billet must surely date from the second half of the century rather than the first, and a date in the range 1150-75 is suggested for both works.


  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Berkshire. Harmondsworth 1966, 110.

  • G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire.  New Haven and London 2010, 228-29.

  • Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 9-11.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 454 802 
now: West Berkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Berkshire
medieval: Salisbury
now: Oxford
now: St Margaret
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
18 August 1998, 20 November 2013