St James, Nether Worton, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


St James church, built of the local ironstone, serves a small hamlet hidden away in the Tew valley in N Oxfordshire. It is small, comprising a short chancel, nave and narrow N and S aisles, and a SW tower, of which the lower stage forms the entrance porch, and the W door opens into an adjoining schoolroom. The earliest evidence in the building is the scant remaining C12th work. The Romanesque bases of two of the S arcade piers show that it comprised a nave and aisle of three bays, presumably with a chancel. It was remodelled in the C14th and the tower was built into the W bay of the S aisle in the C17th, forming a porch and reusing the C13th S door.



Initially the church was a chapelry of Great Tew nearby, a situation that held until the C17th. The rectory of Great Tew, presumably including Nether Worton, was acquired by Godstow Abbey in 1309.



Interior Features



S nave arcade

Three bays, the third being interrupted by the W tower, with two octagonal piers with square plinths and octagonal bases with corner spurs. Above the bases, the piers and arches are C13th.

S nave arcade, piers 1 and 2

Pier 1. Square plinth, stepped with two vertical faces and chamfers, the upper chamfer being deeper. Above this, on a horizontal surface, four raised corner spurs that do not rise to the full height of the octagonal base that backs them. SE spur damaged. SW spur, a triangular shape with a central ridge running to the apex, point slightly damaged. NW and NE spurs, undamaged as SW.

Pier 2. Square plinth as pier 1, but with only one vertical face and chamfer. SE spur damaged. SW spur, as pier 1, SW.  NW spur, triangular but with a notch at the base and no ridge. NE spur, as pier 1, SW. Octagonal pier base as pier 1.


It is common for Romanesque piers to be round, standing on square plinths, with four spurs that extend from the usually convex base element to or towards the corners of the plinth. Here the plinths and spurs may be original. The pier bases, however, may be a C13th build with the octagonal piers, or be reshaped into octagons by chamfering from original round bases.

Nether Worton was reconsecrated in 1630, when it may have severed its links with Great Tew. In 1883 it was said that there was ‘not a fitting in the church worthy of the house of God’, prompting a restoration. In 1928 the parish was united with Over Worton, and both are now included in the benefice of Great Tew.


  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974).

  • Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, Vol. 11 (London, 1983).

Exterior view from SW


Site Location
Nether Worton
National Grid Reference
SP 426 301 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxfordshire
medieval: Lincoln
now: Oxford
medieval: St James
now: St James
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Janet Newson 
Visit Date
15 Aug 2011