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St John the Evangelist, Radclive, Buckinghamshire

(51°59′57″N, 1°1′0″W)
SP 676 339
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
23 October 2006

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Radclive is a tiny village in the NW of the county, in the Domesday hundred of Ixhill, less than a mile E of Buckingham. It lies in rolling, wooded pasture, in a loop of the Great Ouse, and consists of a few dwellings on minor roads clustered around the church and the manor house. Radclive Manor is an imposing 16thc timber-framed building with brick infill, that was encased in stone in the 17thc. It stands immediately to the S of the church. Radclive Hall, a smaller 19thc house on the N side of the church, was formerly the rectory.

The church has a nave, chancel and W tower. The nave has a late-12thc S doorway under a timber-framed porch that has been heavily restored, the chancel arch is also 12thc in origin, and the tall, narrow proportions of the nave must be 12thc or earlier. Both the nave and the tower were rebuilt in the 14thc, and at that time the S doorway and chancel arch were remodelled. The nave windows are a mixture of 14thc and 15thc types, while the tower has a reticulated W window and plain 14thc bell-openings and W doorway. It also has diagonal W buttresses, a SW stair and a battlemented parapet. The masonry of the tower and nave is of roughly course stone rubble, whereas that of the chancel is of larger, more regular, blocks of ashlar. The earliest chancel windows are 13thc. There was a restoration by J. O. Scott in 1902. Romanesque sculpture is found on the S doorway, the chancel arch, stones from that arch reset above it in the E wall of the nave, a relief set above the interior W doorway of the tower and the plain font.


The manor of Radclive was held by Azur son of Toti before the Conquest, and by Fulk from Roger d’Ivry in 1086. It was then assessed at 5 hides with meadow for 8 ploughs and a mill. No church or priest was recorded at that time. With the rest of Ivry’s lands, the overlordship passed to the honour of St Walery, being held by Thomas de St Walery in 1196 and Gunnora of that name in 1198. Between c.1240 and 1355 the honour was held by the Earls of Cornwall, and thereafter it was merged into the honour ofWallingford. The tenancy passed from Fulk to the Hareng family, although the first record of their holding here dates from c.1240 when Ralph Hareng held a fee here. There was a partition of the manor in the mid-13thc, with the major holding going to Simon de St Lys, and it remained in this line until the early 14thc.

The advowson has descended with the lordship of the manor.

The parish now belongs to the Buckingham benefice, including Buckingham, Beachampton, Whaddon, Thornborough, Thornton with Nash and Radclive-cum- Chackmore.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration





In the chancel arch, the arch itself is a replacement of c1300, and the reset voussoirs in the nave E wall indicate that one order of the original arch was decorated, as the jambs still are, with triangular beakhead-like bridges. Similar work is found on the chancel arch and, more developed, at Twyford. This form of ornament could be contemporary with the rosettes and chip-carving found on the imposts, but is stylistically older than the multiple cusping and stiff-leaf volutes of the capitals. It may be, therefore, that an arch of c.1125-40 was remodelled in the 1160s or’70s and again c1300. The S doorway belongs with the later 12thc work, and the font, presumably with the 1125-40 work.

This leaves the Agnus Dei, which has been the subject of some local speculation according to oral reports. The author has no difficulty in reading it as an Agnus Dei that has lost its cross head; its general form and the support of the cross-shaft by a bent foreleg make this certain. A problem arises with the head of the animal, which resembles a horse’s head with a bridle, but it seems more reasonable to attribute this anomaly to inaccuracy of representation than to speculate about an alternative reading. It could date from c1125-40, but may be earlier, even 11thc.


N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 611-12.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north).London 1913, 249-50.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 220-23.