The church stands on a steeply-sloping hill which, although basically natural, may have been scarped artificially. It consists of a chancel, nave, S aisle, and tower of three stages, unusually situated in the angle between the chancel and S aisle. The tower, which has extremely thick walls (1.50 m), seems to be earlier than anything else standing, and in view of its strange position it seems possible that the church has been built around it. The tower contains two Romanesque windows: one in the E wall, at ground level, which is narrow, single-splayed and round-headed. It has a monolithic head, continuous chamfer on head and jambs, with a slightly projecting chamfered sill. The internal splay is set within a wider round-headed arch with dressed quoins, presumably built in this way because of the exceptional thickness of the walls. The other is in the S wall, at the second stage. This is single-splayed, round-headed lancet, chamfered jambs, but with no sill. A battered plinth below a thick roll-moulding survives on the E, S and (now internal) W walls of the tower.
The nave was built in the 3rd quarter of the 12thc; its highly decorated N door and chancel arch are of this phase, as is the S door now re-set in the wall of the S aisle. The arcade as it stands is 13thc, but a fragment of Romanesque label surviving at its S end shows that there was an earlier arcade, extending further W than the present W end of the church. This deduction is confirmed by the roof-crease of an earlier and narrow S aisle which is visible inside the existing aisle, on the W wall of the tower.
The manor to which the church belonged descended from Wadard (1086) to Walkelin Wadard (c.1130), whose (probable) son-in-law Hugh de Chacombe gave the church to Chacombe Priory between 1163 and 1176 (VCH Oxon. vol. 9, 46-7).
|Height, capital, first order||0.20 m|
|Height, capital, second order||0.185 m|
|Height incl necking, capital, first order||0.22 m|
|Height incl necking, capital, second order||0.21 m|
|Width, capital front face, first order||0.17 m|
|Width, capital front face, second order||0.22 m|
|Width, capital side face, first order||0.09 m|
|Width, capital side face, second order||0.20 m|
Engaged nook-shafts, with beakheads (ten each side) gripping the shafts. Simplified Attic-type bases (like Rigold's type 140 but without the fillets). Cushion capitals, different on L and R, with plain roll neckings.
R capital: Foliage below shields as on L capital; Byzantine blossom on front shield, also spreading over onto side shield. Impost, continuous as frieze along bottom edge of tympanum, decorated with palmettes inside curved-over stems (cf.chancel arch).
In the arch, roll-moulding with fourteen gripping beakheads below band of small-scale lateral chevrons.
Attached nook-shafts, as in 1st order but thicker, again with ten beakheads per shaft. Cushion capitals (similar on both sides) covered with two- and three-strand writhing interlace, the shields containing Byzantine blossoms; roll neckings with beaded bands spiralling around them. Imposts continuous with 1st order. In the arch is roll-moulding with fourteen gripping beakheads. The label has a hollow-chamfer on lower arris, and a face decorated with alternating triangularised foliage.
Fully covered with fairly regular beaded interlace knots, looser and larger on the upper third.
|Height of lintel||0.35 m|
|Height of tympanum||0.54 m|
|Width of tympanum||1.07 m|
|Height incl necking||0.19 m|
|Height incl necking||0.19 m|
|Width of faces||0.23 m|
Plain square jambs and imposts with deep, slightly hollow chamfer on lower arris, the uprights carved on some blocks with palmettes inside curved-over stems (cf. N doorway lintel) and on others with stars-within-hexagons (cf. S doorway tympanum). These imposts were probably rearranged when the arch was rebuilt, and show heavy modern restoration.
Detached nook-shafts, Attic-type bases (similar to Rigold's type 95); capitals different on L and R (see below), square with plain roll neckings. The R shaft is in situ, but the L shaft has apparently been repositioned northwards. The jambs stand on a chamfered plinth.L capital. Triple-scallop with wedges between the scallops; the trefoil-shaped shield is recessed, and a band of small nailhead runs along the top edge; the W face has been hacked away, making the overall shape hard to define. R capital. Triple-scallop with recessed shields; wedges between scallops; corner cone with enlarged head. Imposts continuous from first order, similarly decorated. The label of the later arch incorporates 6 re-set blocks carved on the exposed surface with plait decoration, perhaps the remains of voussoirs from the original arch.
|Height||1.60 m approx.|
|Height of tympanum-block||0.41 m approx.|
|Width of tympanum-block||0.97 m|
|Height||2.14 m approx.|
|Circumference at base||2.17 m|
|Circumference at top||2.28 m|
|Diameter of exterior at top||0.73 m|
|Height of bowl||0.46 m|
R.Halsey, "The 12th-Century Church of St. Frideswide's Priory", Oxoniensia, 53 (1988), 160-7.
A History of the County of Oxford: Vol. 11, Wootton Hundred (Northern Part), Victoria County History, London 1983, 54-6.