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St Peter, Easington, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Easington is a tiny hamlet in the parish of Cuxham with Easington, three miles NW of Watlington towards the S of the county. The small, single cell church of St Peter is found at the end of a farm track across open fields, sandwiched between barns and a farmhouse. It consists of continuous nave and chancel with no chancel arch, red tile roof, N porch and W gable bell-cote. It dates to the 14thc but retains a 12thc doorway reused in the N nave wall. Two fragments of curved Romanesque zigzag moulding are re-set side by side over a window in the S nave wall exterior. The tub-shaped font dates also to the 12thc.

History

In 1086, Robert, son of Ralph, held two estates, Easington and Ewelme, both in the Hundred of Benson. Easington was much the smaller of the two, comprising only seven households with land for two plough teams, one being the lord’s. It was valued at £2 in comparison with Ewelme’s £6. The Domesday Survey does not mention a church but there presumably was one, indicated by the Romanesque material reused in the present building.

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

N doorway

The arch of the N nave doorway is slightly pointed and is formed of eight voussoirs, two large at L and R, four smaller at the apex; its lower front edge is chamfered. The remains of a thick, round label survive around the apex, broken off at L and R before the springing. The arch springs from asymmetric rectangular imposts, the L unfinished, the R narrower, shallower and slightly lower set, both decorated with quatrefoils with pointed petals. The jambs are the same on either side: four large, rectangular blocks, their inside front edge chamfered.

The front face of the L impost is unfinished: faint incisions suggest blocking-out for two rows of quatrefoils enclosed within a border. Two only are completed, at bottom R, each with four pointed petals, their stalks forming a saltire cross at the centre, the indents between forming a diamond. A pellet within a diamond separates the two quatrefoils. An unfinished border of two rolls separated by a quirk runs along the bottom edge with the slight remains of a chamfer beneath. The L return features the same blocking-out lines but only one quatrefoil is completed, at bottom L, the corner petals meeting those of front at the angle. The unfinished area at R is occupied by an incised cross pommy using the blocking-out lines as arms. Two similar, smaller crosses are inscribed alongside. The lower border is complete, continuing from front and ending in a narrow, vertical strip, at R. This is damaged and unfinished but was possibly originally chamfered.  

The front face of the R impost features a central band of five quatrefoils, each with four pointed petals, similar to those on L but with no dividing pellet and less defined leaf stems, contained within flat borders. The top border is unfinished: it has a rounded top edge and a quirk at the bottom. The lower border has a fine roll and quirk at both top and bottom with a chamfered edge beneath. The far R area is unfinished and broken at the end. In the R return the decoration continues as if wrapped around from the front. Borders top and bottom enclose three quatrefoils, the corner petals meeting those of front at the angle. Slight remains of chamfered edge beneath are visible. The end of the block is broken at far L.

Dimensions
Height of L impost front face 0.17m
Height of opening 1.90m
Height of R impost front face 0.14m
Height of R impost side return 0.15m
Width of L impost front face 0.39 m
Width of opening 0.95 m
Width of R impost front face 0.41m
Width of R impost side return 0.22m

Other

Zigzag mouldings

These fragments have been roughly cemented together and placed between two fragments of scroll-moulded string course, and set over a segmental arch window in the S nave wall. They consist of short sections of curved zigzag moulding with a roll and quirk along the top edge.

Dimensions
Height of L zigzag fragment 0.15m
Height of R zigzag fragment 0.15m
Width of L zigzag fragment 0.30m
Width of R zigzag fragment 0.37m

Furnishings

Fonts

Tub font

Situated at the W end of the nave opposite the N door, the font is a plain, cylindrical, lead-lined tub with a broad brim, tapering inwards towards the bottom. A shallow runnel encircles the outside of the bowl, approximately half way down. The font is supported by a short, squat, circular pedestal with a broad chamfer round the top edge and a similar, shallow runnel around the outside, again half way down. Beneath is a large, shallow step in the form of a wheel. The lead lining of the tub extends to cover the inner half of the rim, ending in a dark-coloured seam. A further strip of lead covers the outer half of the rim and is worn away in places. 

Dimensions
Diameter of bowl (external) 0.67m
Diameter of bowl (internal) 0.47m
Height of bowl 0.43m
Font

Comments/Opinions

Incised crosses round doorways have been variously interpreted as votive marks, ritual protection marks, pilgrim crosses or marks witnessing oaths and vows such as marriage vows made in the church porch.  Although these examples are incised on 12thc material, it is not possible to date them as the same designs also occur in later contexts such as the 14thc doorway at Combe Longa, Oxfordshire.

The slight curve and finished upper edge on the zigzag mouldings suggest they were originally part of a round window or arch surround.

The runnel encircling the font at its mid point may be a shallow decoration or, if it runs right through, a join mark. If so, the bowl was made in two halves.  

Bibliography

  • F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England's Patron Saints, 3, London 1899,  112.

  • M. Champion, Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England's Churches, London 2015, 63-9.

  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 591.

St Peter, Easington, Oxfordshire, from the NE

Location

Site Location
Easington
National Grid Reference
SU 667 697 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxfordshire
Diocese
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
Dedication
now: St Peter
medieval: St Peter
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Nicola Lowe 
Visit Date
01 November 2016, 11 March 2017