St Mary, Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Hampstead Norreys is a village in West Berkshire, 11 miles west of Reading in a hilly wooded landscape. The church is at the south end of the village.  It is substantially 12thc., with a single nave and a 13thc. square chancel almost as wide as the nave. The nave was extended W, and a W tower added (perhaps replacing an earlier one further E) in the 15thc. The N porch also dates from this period. A vestry was added on the N side of the chancel in the 19thc. There was a major restoration in 1879-80, mainly involving the replacement of a screen dividing nave from chancel with the present chancel arch. Remains of an early rood screen were unfortunately destroyed at that time. Romanesque sculpture is found on the N and S nave doorways, but its most spectacular Romanesque carving is to be found on the font now in St John's at Stone in Buckinghamshire.


Hampstead Norreys was held by Lang of Edward the Confessor, when it was assessed at 17 hides, but in 1086 it was worth only 6 hides, and was held by Theodric the Goldsmith of the king.  A riest of the church held half a hide of this land but was not growing anything on it.  By 1166-67 the tenant was William de Sifrewas, and it remained in this family until well into the 13thc.


Exterior Features


N doorway, nave.

Round headed, of one order. Chamfered jambs and arch; the jambs terminating in pyramid chamfer stops at the foot. There are no capitals, but hollow chamfered imposts with a bead running along the middle of the chamfer. The label is carved with a double row of billet. This is damaged and misalignments between the two rows indicate that it has been reset at some time. It is possible that the S doorway (see below) originally had a billet label too, and this one uses the best-preserved stones from both.

h. of opening 2.28m
w. of opening 1.20m

S doorway, nave (blocked).

Round-headed, of one order. Plain chamfered jambs and arch. No capitals, hollow chamfered imposts with a bead running along the middle of the chamfer. Half-round label with short returns at the ends (possibly 19thc.).

h. of opening 2.15 m
w. of opening 0.90 m


These two simple doorways differ slightly in their dimensions - the functioning N doorway being slightly larger than the blocked S one.  This unusual reversal is explained by the church's position on the S side of the main village street.




  • Anon., St Mary's Church, Hampstead Norreys. n.d. (post 1990), church guide.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth 1966, 150-51.

  • G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire.  New Haven and London 2010

  • Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 73-81.

Exterior from N


Site Location
Hampstead Norreys
National Grid Reference
SU 529 763 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Berkshire
now: West Berkshire
medieval: Salisbury
now: Oxford
now: St Mary
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
18 August 1998, 19 November 2013