St John the Evangelist, Radclive, Buckinghamshire

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Feature Sets (4)


Radclive is a tiny village in the NW of the county, in the Domesday hundred of Ixhill, less than a mile E of Buckingham.  It lies in rolling, wooded pasture, in a loop of the Great Ouse, and consists of a few dwellings on minor roads clustered around the church and the manor house.  Radclive Manor is an imposing 16thc timber-framed building with brick infill, that was encased in stone in the 17thc.  It stands immediately to the S of the church.  Radclive Hall, a smaller 19thc house on the N side of the church, was formerly the rectory.

The church has a nave, chancel and W tower.  The nave has a late-12thc S doorway under a timber-framed porch that has been heavily restored, the chancel arch is also 12thc in origin, and the tall, narrow proportions of the nave must be 12thc or earlier.  Both the nave and the tower were rebuilt in the 14thc, and at that time the S doorway and chancel arch were remodelled.  The nave windows are a mixture of 14thc and 15thc types, while the tower has a reticulated W window and plain 14thc bell-openings and W doorway.  It also has diagonal W buttresses, a SW stair and a battlemented parapet.  The masonry of the tower and nave is of roughly course stone rubble, whereas that of the chancel is of larger, more regular, blocks of ashlar.  The earliest chancel windows are 13thc.  There was a restoration by J. O. Scott in 1902.  Romanesque sculpture is found on the S doorway, the chancel arch, stones from that arch reset above it in the E wall of the nave, a relief set above the interior W doorway of the tower and the plain font.


The manor of Radclive was held by Azur son of Toti before the Conquest, and by Fulk from Roger d’Ivry in 1086.  It was then assessed at 5 hides with meadow for 8 ploughs and a mill.  No church or priest was recorded at that time.  With the rest of Ivry’s lands, the overlordship passed to the honour of St Walery, being held by Thomas de St Walery in 1196 and Gunnora of that name in 1198.  Between c.1240 and 1355 the honour was held by the Earls of Cornwall, and thereafter it was merged into the honour ofWallingford.  The tenancy passed from Fulk to the Hareng family, although the first record of their holding here dates from c.1240 when Ralph Hareng held a fee here.  There was a partition of the manor in the mid-13thc, with the major holding going to Simon de St Lys, and it remained in this line until the early 14thc.

The advowson has descended with the lordship of the manor.

The parish now belongs to the Buckingham benefice, including Buckingham, Beachampton, Whaddon, Thornborough, Thornton with Nash and Radclive-cum- Chackmore.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Pointed, 3 orders. All three orders have slight signs of disturbance at the apex, indicating that the arch has been rebuilt.

Height of opening 2.61m
Width of opening 1.16m
1st order

The jambs have engaged half-columns with fillets facing across the opening; the E jamb replaced in its lower section.  The capitals are tall with concave bells decorated with flat leaves on the angles, notched between the connected leaves, like waterleaf.  The E capital has big triangular sheaths at the bottom of each leaf.  Neckings are plain rolls, and the badly worn integral imposts are thin with a lower roll and a flat face above.  The arch has the same filleted half-roll profile as the jambs.

2nd order

En-delit nook-shafts with central shaft-rings.  The badly eroded bases are water-holding with a fat, bulbous lower roll and a narrow necking.  The W capital is similar to the 1st-order W capital, but the leaves terminate in fleshy stiff-leaf.  Its necking is lost and its integral impost is as the 1st order.  The E capital is stiff-leaf too, but so worn that its precise form cannot be determined.  It has no impost but a simple roll around the upper edge, quadrant-shaped in plan.  The arch has a quadrant hollow with pyramid stops at the ends.

3rd order

The jambs are as the 2nd order, and between the nook shafts of these two orders is a vertical hollow moulding decorated with a row of dogtooth in the hollow, widely-spaced with some units of decoration lost.  The capitals have stems with stiff-leaf terminals rising from the necking.  They have roll neckings and their imposts are as those of the 2nd order capitals alongside them.  The arch is decorated with free-standing point-to-point chevron over an angle roll.  In fact it is not totally free-standing, and the triangular outer fields on face and soffit are filled with trilobed leaf motifs.  Outside the arch is a chamfered label with a row of dogtooth in the chamfer.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Pointed, 2 orders to E and W.

1st order (shared)

The jambs are square, chamfered at the angles with simple stops at top and bottom, and they stand on chamfered plinths.  They carry imposts of different profiles: the N impost has a narrow hollow and roll at the bottom and a tall face above, carved on its main face only with a row of five daisies with concave petals and no central boss.  Of these the westernmost is damaged by the loss of a chip at the SW angle of the block.  The S impost has a hollow chamfer at the bottom and a pair of horizontal half-rolls in the centre of the tall face.  This is the profile of the W and N faces of the block; the E face is plain hollow chamfered.  The arch is plain with broad chamfers to E and W.

2nd order (E face)

Plain chamfered jambs with simple stops at top and bottom, supporting plain chamfered imposts.  The arch and label are as the 2nd order W face.

2nd order (W face)

Coursed nook-shafts in the jambs with no bases but standing on plain chamfered plinths of which only the S survives.  Triangular bridges link the nook-rolls to the jambs outside them, in a motif described by Pevsner as “a token beakhead reduced to triangles within triangles.”  This is a fair description, but it should also be pointed out that the triangular bridges vary in size since each is carved on a single jambstone and these vary in height.  The number of concentric triangles on each stone varies according to its size, from one to four.  The N capital is multi-cusped with three cusps on the W face and two on the S.  Each cusp carries a subsidiary cusp inside it.  The cusped bell of the capital is low and above it is a tall block-shaped abacus decorated with a low horizontal roll immediately above the cusping.  The necking is square. The impost block is as the 1st order impost and similarly decorated with daisies, a row of three on the W face only.  The S capital is of volute type with stiff-leaf terminals to the volutes that extend beyond the capital itself onto the block alongside to either side.  The abacus has a lower angle roll and the impost is as the 1st order impost on its N face, while the W face is hollow chamfered with a row of three chip-carved saltires in squares on the face.  The necking is a plain roll.  The arch is plain with a broad chamfer and the label is chamfered to the extrados with a deep hollow at the intrados.

Interior Decoration


Agnus Dei relief above W tower doorway

The relief is irregular in shape.  It originally may have been a rough oval carrying the design in low relief, surrounded by a square of trapezoidal chamfered border.  The upper part of the design has been lost, including the top of the lamb’s head and the terminal of the cross, and the losses have been repaired in mortar so that the panel is now trapezoidal with a chamfered edge.  The lamb is shown in R profile, and has a long, thin body decorated with a design of grooves on the surface, a long, thick neck with transverse grooves, and a head like that of a horse with an oval eye surrounded by an oval ridge for the lids, and a vertical groove across the muzzle, like a horse’s bridle.  Its legs are long and awkward-looking, but the R foreleg is bent in the usual way to support the stem of a cross.  This is decorated with a vertical triple reed and ends incomplete just above the lamb’s back.  It would originally have terminated in a cross.

Height of repaired relief 0.30m
Max, height of carved area 0.20m
Max, width of carved area 0.28m
Max. width of repaired relief 0.30m

Reset stones above chancel arch

The nine stones are set in two rows high in the E wall of the nave, above the chancel arch.  Not all are carved, but all have been numbered for ease of reference.  Numbering is top row L to R then bottom row L to R.  The stones in the top row are set into niches, while those in the lower row project from the wall.


Jambstone or arch voussoir in the form of a triangular bridge to an angle roll, as on the chancel arch 2nd order W face.  The bridge is carved with four concentric triangles.


Arch voussoir as 1 but with two units of decoration.  The discernible curve of the angle roll confirms that this is a voussoir and not a jambstone.  The carved face of each bridge is chipped and is carved with two concentric triangles.


Arch voussoir as 2.  The surfaces of both bridges are chipped and worn.  That on the right retains traces of two concentric triangles, of which the inner is bifurcated.


Arch voussoir as 2.  The R bridge has a worn and damaged face; the L has a central drilled bead surrounded by two concentric triangles.


Single jambstone or arch voussoir as 1.  The face of the bridge is carved with three concentric triangles.


Voussoir carved with a quirked hollow chamfer.


Chamfered impost or stringcourse section with two units of damaged sawtooth on the chamfer.


Chamfered jamb stone with a plain label stop.


Single arch voussoir as 1, the bridge carved with a bifurcated inner triangle surrounded by an outer one that forms the angle roll of the motif.  This projects from the wall and is thus the best seem of all these stones.




W of the nave doorway, towards the S of the nave, a plain tub font on a low cushion base with fat roll necking, and a square step.  The bowl has an extensive inserted repair at the W and a loss perhaps corresponding to staple removal on the W side of the rim.  It has a lead lining turned over the rim.

Exterior diameter of bowl at rim 0.75m
Height of bowl and cushion base 0.59m
Height of bowl only 0.38m
Interior diameter of bowl at rim 0.59m
Overall height of font 0.74m


In the chancel arch, the arch itself is a replacement of c1300, and the reset voussoirs in the nave E wall indicate that one order of the original arch was decorated, as the jambs still are, with triangular beakhead-like bridges.  Similar work is found on the chancel arch and, more developed, at Twyford.  This form of ornament could be contemporary with the rosettes and chip-carving found on the imposts, but is stylistically older than the multiple cusping and stiff-leaf volutes of the capitals.  It may be, therefore, that an arch of c.1125-40 was remodelled in the 1160s or’70s and again c1300.  The S doorway belongs with the later 12thc work, and the font, presumably with the 1125-40 work.

This leaves the Agnus Dei, which has been the subject of some local speculation according to oral reports.  The author has no difficulty in reading it as an Agnus Dei that has lost its cross head; its general form and the support of the cross-shaft by a bent foreleg make this certain.  A problem arises with the head of the animal, which resembles a horse’s head with a bridle, but it seems more reasonable to attribute this anomaly to inaccuracy of representation than to speculate about an alternative reading.  It could date from c1125-40, but may be earlier, even 11thc.


  • N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 611-12.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north).London 1913, 249-50.

  • Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 220-23.

Exterior from SW
Church and Radclive Manor beyond
Interior to E
Plan of the church


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 676 339 
now: Buckinghamshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Buckinghamshire
now: Oxford
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St John the Evangelist
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
23 October 2006