St Mary, Wargrave, Berkshire

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Feature Sets (4)


Wargrave is a large village in the Thames valley near the confluence with the Loddon, midway between Reading and Maidenhead. The medieval church was burnt down in 1914 and rebuilt by W. Fellowes Prynne, incorporating some of the original fabric, including the 1635 brick W tower and the 12thc N doorway (reset towards the W end of the N nave wall). The church has a nave with a S aisle and the remains of a blocked 12thc. arcade in the N wall. There is also a N transept and a square chancel. There is a disused plain font, probably 12thc., in the churchyard.


Wargrave was held by the king in demesne in 1086, and before the Conquest it had been held by Queen Edith.  King Stephen was said to have granted it to his brother, Henry of Blois, but it was in King Henry II's hands throughout his reign. King Richard I sold it to Bishop Godfrey of Winchester to raise funds for the crusades, but reclaimed it on his return, when he disseized him of his lands.  It was reclaimed by the see on payment of a fine to King John in 1199 and remained in the hands of the Bishops of Winchester until the 16thc.

The church was given by Henry I to his new foundation of Reading abbey, and it remained a possession of the abbey until the Dissolution.


Exterior Features


N doorway, nave

Round-headed, of one order. Sheltered under a wooden porch of 1916 and reset under an ashlar gable. The arch is supported on nook-shafts of rectangular section, decorated with directional chevron, alternately roll and hollow, pointing upwards. There are no bases. The capitals are of a simple double-scallop form, deeply grooved along the lower edges of the shields. Neckings are round and the imposts are plain.

In the arch, a fat angle-roll with a hollow on the face. Outside this is a cusped label, integral with the voussoirs. The surface is flaking, possibly due to the application of a coat of mastic at some time. Several of the arch voussoirs have been replaced.

Height of capitals (including integral necking, but not impost) 0.22m
Height of opening 2.30m
Width of opening 1.74m

Interior Features



N arcade (blocked)

The remains of the blocked N arcade are still visible on the interior nave wall. Three round-headed bays are visible with plain arches supported on square piers with no capitals, but plain chamfered impost blocks with a pair of horizontal inscribed lines on the face.




Located by the E entrance to the churchyard is the bowl of a plain, cylindrical font of oolitic limestone, mounted on a mound of flints and earth. It tapers outwards slightly towards the top, and the lower rim is chamfered. The interior is cylindrical, and there is no lining. Substantial chips are missing from the upper rim.

Ext. diameter at rim 0.84m
Height of bowl 0.40m
Internal diam. at rim 0.61m


The cusping on the label of the N doorway is a motif copied from nearby Reading Abbey (where it is used on the beakhead voussoirs of the cloister arcade, now in Reading Museum). It also occurs in the NW of the county at Stanford-in-the-Vale, in combination with a heavy angle roll and scallop capitals.


  • Historic England Listed Building¬†41363

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 257.

  • G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire.¬† New Haven and London 2010, 599-600.

  • Victoria County History: Berkshire III (1923), 195.

Exterior from E
Interior to E


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 783 785 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Berkshire
now: Wokingham
medieval: Salisbury
now: Oxford
medieval: St Mary (pre-Reformation)
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
20 April 1997, 08 November 2013