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St Faith, Newton Longville, Buckinghamshire

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Newton Longville is a village in the rolling, wooded pasturelandofNE Buckinghamshire, just outside the southern boundary ofMilton Keynesand in the Domesday hundred of Rowley.  The village stands on rising ground with the church at the crossroads marking the centre.  The manor house is to the S of the church.

St Faith’s has an aisled and clerestoried nave, a chancel with a N chapel formed from the continuation of the nave aisle, and a W tower.  The nave arcades are of two bays with cylindrical piers and half-column responds.  The capitals of the central pier of each arcade are late-12c; the arcade was remodelled c1300; the responds given moulded capitals the arches a double-chamfered inner order.  The N arcade arches retain nailhead labels, and both arcades have spandrel figures above the piers reused from the 12thc arcade.  The aisles belong to the c1300 remodelling, when they were widened and given new, plain doorways.  The S porch and clerestory are 15thc. The chancel arch is, like the nave arcades, a mixture of late-12thc and c1300 work.  In the chancel, the arch to the chapel is also of c1300, but the chapel itself is Perpendicular work of the 15thc, so was presumably rebuilt.  The W tower is 15thc, with diagonal buttresses at the W angles.  It is constructed of large blocks of grey ashlar, badly eroded, whereas the remainder of the church is of irregular stone rubble.  The embattled nave parapets are 15thc, while that on the tower is modern.  The 15thc work is presumed to correspond with the grant of the church to New College Oxford in 1441.  The church was restored by A. W. Blomfield in 1881 and was again restored in 1891.  Romanesque sculpture is found in the nave arcades, the chancel arch and the font.

History

The manor was held by Edward Cild before the Conquest, and in 1086 it was held by Walter Giffard.  It was then assessed at 10 hides, of which 4 were in demesne, and there was meadow for 6 ploughs.  Walter Giffard founded the Cluniac priory of St Faith at Longueville, nearRouenbefore his death in 1104, endowing his foundation with land in Buckinghamshire including the manor and its church.  His son, also Walter, founded a cell of Longueville here and confirmed his father’s gifts to the Norman church.  The dedication to St Faith is unusual, and of approximately forty English churches and chapels with this dedication, this is the furthest north.  Longueville priory, probably retained its Buckinghamshire possessions until the 14thc when its property was confiscated by the crown as a consequence of the Hundred Years War.  In 1441 church and manor were granted toNewCollege,Oxford.

The parish is now in the benefice of Newton Longville and Mursley with Swanbourne and Little Horwood.

Features

Interior Features

Arches

Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Pointed, 2 orders to E and W.

Arcades

Nave

N arcade

N arcade, 2 bays, pointed.  The arches are of two heavy, deeply-chamfered orders to N and S with plain pyramid stop chamfers and a chamfered label on the main vessel side only, with plain pyramidal nailhead on the chamfer.  In the spandrel above the pier, the label-stop is a human head under a heavy block impost; the head with oval eyes surrounded by eyelid ridges, a straight nose and a small wry mouth.  On the impost is a worn inscription in two lines, apparently deliberately scratched out.  The upper line apparently reads ORDR_V, while the lower is largely illegible. The responds are engaged half-columns with simple conical moulded capitals, and the central pier is cylindrical with a low block capital with plain roll necking and a thin, square impost with a lower angle roll and a low face.  Angles and faces of the capital are carved with elaborate decoration in high relief as follows: 

Angles

The angles have various foliage motifs: at the SE a lily, at the NE a leaf similar to those on the N face, at the NW something similar, partly broken away, and at the SW a tree-like motif with tangled branches and multilobed leaves.

E face

To the L of the face is an amphisbaena; a dragon with a head at each end. The clue to which is the neck and which the tail is given by the leg, which tends to slope towards the head.  In this case this indicates that the true head-end is on the L, near the angle, and this head turns back to bite its own neck.  At the tail end, the other head turns back and bites its own back.  As on the chancel arch, the body is fat amd the neck and tail are long and thin.  There is a spinal ridge and the skin is hatched.  To the R of this face, three leaves from the angle motif curve to cover the bell.

N face

A row of six similar leaves, rising vertically from the necking and having a central spine and three fleshy lobes to either side of it.

S face

A pair of addorsed quadrupeds with their tails twisted together and terminating in trilobed leaf-forms above their backs.  The R beast has a lion’s head, while the L has a long snout.

W face

The R part of the bell has a pair of grooved stems twisted together and terminating in fleshy multilobed leaves.  In the L section are three creatures in a row: to the L a pair of affronted dragons, shown upright with wings folded and heads turned away from one another; to the R what must be described as a human head on a snake’s body that terminates in a spiral with a leaf at the tip.  This creature is also vertical.

S arcade

As the N arcade except that the label on the main vessel side is plain chamfered, and the pier capital and label stop are different in design.

The pier capital has a concave bell decorated all round with a row of linked flat leaves with pointed tips and central spine ridges rising from the plain roll necking.  Between and behind the tips of the leaves are similar leaf tips.  Above the tips, the abacus is very thin with a hollow chamfer and above this a flat face.  In plan the angles of the abacus are chamfered off.

The spandrel head is oval with bulging almond-shaped eyes, one pupil drilled, the other marked by a ring, under sloping brow ridges.  The nose is triangular and the mouth tragic with the corners deeply drilled.  The impost above is chamfered and semi-octagonal in plan.  The front face of it has been shaved back.

Furnishings

Fonts

Font

 The font is at the W end of the S aisle, and has a decorated tub-shaped bowl on a separate projecting cable lower rim and a shafted support, both modern.  The octagonal plinth is medieval, but only the bowl is 12thc.  The bowl is encircled by a row of six inaccurately drawn lozenges in low relief.  Masking the intersections where the lozenges touch are rings with low convex bosses in the centre, all except for the two on the W side of the bowl, of which the NW has the intersection visible, interlaced with an encircling ring, and the SW has a plain, uncarved disc at the intersection.  The western lozenge is the least accurate of all; not rhomboid at all but pentagonal since the upper vertex is cut off by the rim of the bowl. This field, and the upper and lower triangular fields to the S of it, are left uncarved, but the other fields are decorated with foliage forms in relief. This decoration consists of pairs of fan-shaped fluted leaves curving apart, all except for the lower triangle at the NW of the bowl, which has a two-step half-disc at the bottom and two fluted leaves at each side.

The lozenge-shaped fields are described starting at the W and moving from L to R (anticlockwise) around the bowl.

1. Uncarved.

2. Plain central disc with fluted palmettes above and below and simple double leaves emerging from a single stem to L and R.

3. Central convex boss surrounded by a torus, with fountain-like palmettes above and below.

4. Central convex boss surrounded by a double torus, with triangular fluted leaves filling the spaces above and below.

5. Two-step flat central disc with fountain-like palmettes above and below.

6. Two-step flat central disc surrounded by a daisy-like ring of fluted petals and triangular fluted leaves filling the spaces above and below.

The bowl is basically 12thc but repaired and completely retooled.  The rim shows no obvious damage, except for very neatly inserted repairs at the W and NE.  The bowl is lined with lead.

Dimensions
Ext. diameter of bowl at rim 0.695m
Height of bowl (not including cable lower rim) 0.39m
Int. diameter of bowl at rim 0.59m

Comments/Opinions

The N arcade and chancel arch capitals are top-quality late-12thc work, and similar dragons are found at nearby Lathbury and on the font at Old Linslade by the same sculptors.  The font may be similar in date or slightly earlier, but it is very inaccurately laid out and has been over-restored.  It is comparable with the better-carved example at Hambleden.  The inscription above the head in the N arcade may well reward further research.

Bibliography

  • N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 581-82.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north).London 1913, 212-15.

  • Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. I (1905), 395-96 (on Newton Longville priory).

  • Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 425-29.

Exterior from NW
Interior to E
Interior to SW

Location

Site Location
Newton Longville
National Grid Reference
SP 848 314 
Boundaries
now: Buckinghamshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Buckinghamshire
Diocese
now: Oxford
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
Dedication
now: St Faith
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
23 October 2006