St Margaret of Antioch, Mapledurham, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


The village of Mapledurham in the Hundred of Langtree sits in the extreme S of Oxfordshire on the banks of the Thames between Pangbourne to the W and Reading to the E, with the Chiltern scarp behind. The layout, with its scattered farmsteads and cottages, retains the character of a rural medieval community, centred round manor house, church and (functioning) mill. It is still largely an estate village with a working farm at its heart. The church of St Margaret of Antioch is found at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac, charmingly situated alongside the redbrick, Tudor Mapledurham House, on a narrow stretch of the river. It now consists of nave, N and S aisles, W tower, N vestry and N porch. The exterior is of flint with stone dressings.  The tower is faced with a bold chequer pattern in brick and flint.  Pevsner dates a blocked arch at the W end of the S wall to the 13th century, but the rest of the structure is later medieval and the whole was essentially re-created by William Butterfield in 1863. The only Romanesque feature is the font which seems to predate the present church.


No church is mentioned in the Domesday survey but it seems likely there was one as the settlement was large and prosperous. Two manors are recorded: Mapledurham Gurney belonged to William de Warenne; Mapledurham Chazey to Miles Crispin. Together they formed a thriving unit of 10 gelds supporting 39 households, taxed at £19.




Tub shaped font

In the W end of the nave, there is a lead-lined tub font, slightly tapering towards the base. A short circular channel approx. 3 cm wide pierces the body of the tub diagonally on the south-facing side.  A gently convex band 6 cm deep runs round the top with a fine roll moulding beneath.  Towards the base, this pattern is repeated but reversed: the band is slightly concave and the roll moulding occurs above. Between these two bands, the body of the tub carries 16 diagonal stripes running from top right to bottom left, 3.5 cm wide, with worn billet decoration, edged on both sides with a narrow roll moulding. The whole retains 19th-century painted decoration in faded red, gold and grey-black. The tube stands on a 19th-century base, also painted, of two large, stepped cylindrical sections on an unpainted high step.  The arrangement resembles the bottom of an arcade pillar.

Height of bowl 0.56 m
Width of bowl (exterior) 0.78 m
Width of bowl (interior) 0.60 m


Mapledurham Gurney forms the basis of today’s village. The private 'Bardolf' S aisle in the church is a curiosity. It was added c.1381 possibly as a chantry to Sir Robert Bardolf (d.1395). It is the property of the Catholic Eyston family at Mapledurham house next door, still functioning as their chantry and is not part of the Anglican parish church. A further oddity is the false N aisle, divided from the nave by two timber piers which were inserted during the 1863 rebuilding.

Something like the unusual diagonal stripe decoration on the font can be seen on the font at St James, Finchampstead, Berks, 20 miles away, also on this site. 


  • http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mapledurham%20ca%20study.pdf

  • http://www.stmargaretmapledurham.org.uk/brief-history/

  • F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 195.

  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1974, 693-4. 

St Margarets, Mapledurham, from the NW


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 670 767 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxfordshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
now: St Margaret of Antioch
medieval: St Margaret
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Nicola Lowe 
Visit Date
11 August 2014