St Mary, Salford, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (3)


Salford is 3 miles NW of Chipping Norton in rolling countryside near the Warwickshire border. The small church is situated on a slope to the W of the village. It was rebuilt by G.E. Street in 1854-5, retaining amongst other material the original Romanesque N and S nave doorways. The N doorway has a sculpturedtympanum. There is also a spectacular arcaded Romanesque font.


There may have been two ancient manors associated with Salford from 1086 onwards (Murrell, 1985), and their history seems a little confused. One of these estates formed part of a much larger holding that included not only the advowson of St Mary's church at Salford, but also manors in neighbouring Cornwell and Chastleton, Oxon. One manor seems to have been held by Roger de Lacy in 1086. Another entry refers to lands held by Archbishop Thomas of York, but this is intermingled with a Chastleton entry under the lands of Odo of Bayeux, who had seized 5 hides at Salford from Evesham abbey sometime after the Conquest. The monks in their turn laid claim on estates at Salford, Chastleton and Cornwell. (A Saxon land charter, of questionable origin, stated that king Offa of Mercia had granted an estate at Salford to the Evesham monks in 777).


Exterior Features


(1) S nave doorway

Round-headed, of two orders. Much rebuilt in C19th, and housed in a porch that impinges somewhat unfortunately on the arch label.

1st order. Plain square jambs and arch. Impost with hollow-chamfered lower arris below quirk.

2nd order. Detached nookshafts. Bases of simplified Attic form (two rolls and scotia but no fillets). Plain roll necking. Capitals, similar to L and R and on both faces, triple scallops with recessed semicircular shields and spear-points. Imposts identical and continuous with first order, returned along wall. 

Arch plain, and arises not from the shafts but from the outer faces of the jambs, an arrangement that probably results from the C19th rebuilding. Label with chamfered lower arris below quirk. Rere-arch higher and round-headed.

h. of opening 2.32 m
w. of opening 1.18 m

(2) N nave doorway

Round-headed arch containing a tympanum, the doorway flat-headed, one order. Rear-arch segmental, probably 19thc.

Jambs plain with chamfer, possibly not as original. Imposts with hollow-chamfered lower arris below a double quirk, returned along wall, and stopped on each side with a pair of small curling fluted leaves.

h. of doorway opening 1.55 m
h. of tympanum 0.72 m
max. w. of tympanum 1.41 m
thickness of tympanum 0.20 m
w. of doorway opening 0.98 m
Tympanum and label

The tympanum has a slightly recessed central panel, dominated by a central Maltese cross within a circle formed by two incised lines, the arms of the cross being split and intersecting. To the L is a centaur whose bow or shield points behind him (Sagittarius), and to the R a lion (Leo) whose tail curves beneath him and up over his back ending in a fluted tassel.

Label with broad chamfer on lower arris, stopped at each end with a beast-head with a broad flat snout and teeth. 



Tub font

At the W end of the nave, a sculptured font of oolitic limestone. It now stands on a later octagonal base. A lead lining is present, just overlapping the rim.  This may originally have been tub-shaped, and decorated in two registers.

The main decoration consists of intersecting blind arcading, with 27 columns. Most of the columns lack capitals and have rudimentary triangular bases, but about four bays on the SW face have minute decoration on the arches, as well as base mouldings and neckings. The arch decoration includes small beads that diminish in size from top to bottom, as well as a short length of two chevrons with pellets in the vees, and transverse ridges. Most of the spaces between the columns show slight vertical keeling. Below this the font has been re-worked from the probable original tub shape to tapered octagonal form.  Most of the original decoration has been lost, but it may have been decorated by a frieze of chevron, as the tips of four chevrons are just visible.

h. of bowl 0.65 m
inner diam. of bowl 0.59 m
outer diam. of bowl 0.74 m
total h. of font, incl. stem 1.03 m


Only a few years before it was rebuilt, the Oxford antiquarian, J.H. Parker, described in 1848 what was evidently an entirely Romanesque small church: the nave with N and S doorways, a small plain chancel arch, and a small window in the N chancel wall. Drawings by J.C. Buckler in 1820-1 show the doorways, the font and a general view from the SE.

The Maltese cross on the tympanum of the N doorway is remarkable for being carved with its arms split and intersecting as if it were made of leather. Apparently a similar cross is found on a tympanum at St Nicholas, Ipswich (Hodges, 1985). The other images on the tympanum, of Sagittarius and Leo from the Zodiac, are simpler versions of those found on the font at St Peter's, Hook Norton, only four miles away.


  • C.H.W. Hodges, 'Salford Parish Church - a Historical Sketch', in Salford, More History of a Cotswold Village, Salford History Group (Kidlington, 1985), pp. 9-17.

  • S. Murrell, 'The Descent of Salford Manor', in Salford, More History of a Cotswold Village, Salford History Group (Kidlington, 1985), pp. 5-8.

  • Oxford, Bodleian MSS Top. Oxon. A 68 Nos. 439-441; b 91 No. 317 (drawings by J.C. Buckler showing a general view from the SE, and the N and S doorways; the font). 

  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974), p. 749.

Exterior view from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 286 281 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxfordshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
now: St Mary
medieval: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Janet Newson, John Blair, Sarah Blair 
Visit Date
19 November 1993, 10 June 2014