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St Swithin, Quenington, Gloucestershire

(51°44′1″N, 1°47′8″W)
SP 149 039
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Gloucestershire
now Gloucestershire
medieval Worcester
now Gloucester
medieval St Mary
now St Swithin
  • Jean and Garry Gardiner
05 June 1998, 15 June 1998

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Quenington is a village about nine miles E of Cirencester on the W bank of the River Coln. The church lies to the S of the village and consists of a rubble stone structure. The W part of the chancel and the aisleless nave are Romanesque, including the N and S windows and the pilaster buttresses. The church was extensively restored by Fredrick Waller in 1882-3: the bellcote and the N vestry are from this date. Romanesque sculpture consists of the stringcourse, the numerous fragments reset into the interior N and S walls at the W end of the nave and, especially, the N and S round-headed doorways with carved tympana still in situ: in 1990 Nimbus Conservation carried out conservation work on the Romanesque doorways, which won the John Betjeman Award for good conservation practice.


The Domesday Survey records that 'Quenintone' had a priest. In 1066 the manor was held by Alwold and Doda. In 1086 it passed under the lordship of Walter of Lacey, who probably received it from William fitzOsbern; Roger, the eldest son of Walter de Lacey, inherited the manor. Quenington was the only Lacey manor in Gloucestershire with a reeve, and this may be seen as an indication of its importance.

In 1100 Samson, Bishop of Worchester, granted to Gloucester Abbey a pension of two marks from Quenington. In 1138 Hugh I de Lacey granted the church of Quenington to St Peter's Abbey at Gloucester. The estate was leased from St Peter's Abbey by the Knights Hospitallers in 1193, when Agnes de Lacey established a preceptory for the Hospitallers.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features

Interior Decoration


According to Samuel Lysons (1804), on the S tympanum the Virgin holds a dove in her L hand: regrettably the stone is now too worn to clearly identify this. Lucy Abel Smith, a Ph.D. student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, who lives in Quenington Old Rectory, offered the opinion that the head of Christ in the N tympanum is stylistically close to that of the Chichester reliefs. As well, she believes the pair of arcs attached to the terminal bead of the beaded-tongue clasps of the second order of the S doorway are identical to the hinges of the house of Lazarus'sisters on the Chichester relief, in the scene of The Raising of Lazarus. However, these arcs with the bead in between are also stylistically related to the continuous hollow horseshoe cusping of the N doorway at Iffley,in the third order of the arch. In other words, the Quenington motif is one half of two units of the Iffley motif. The S doorway of Quenington has many correspondences to the S doorway at South Cerney. David Talbot Rice (1952), 79-80, dates The Harrowing of Hell tympanum over the N doorway of Quenington as c.1134-54, and identifies The Harrowing of Hell over the S doorway at South Cerney as from the same school, but of a little earlier date. Dina Portray Dobson (1933), 274-5, identifies the capitals in the arch on the tympanum as 'the most interesting part of the whole piece of sculpture for they are of precisely the same design as those of the responds to the chancel at Deerhurst priory, 10thc. This parallel should be sufficient to establish the date of the whole composition, which gives a different presentation of Harrowing'.

Romanesque sculptural fragments were reset into the W end of the N and S walls of the nave during the restoration by Fredrick Waller in 1882-3. Photographing the fragments on the N wall of the nave was extremely difficult due to poor illumination.


G. Zarnecki and F. Henry, ‘Romanesque Arches decorated with Human and Animal Heads’, in Studies in Romanesque Sculpture, ed. by G. Zarnecki, London 1979, 10-2.

G. Zarnecki, Further studies in Romanesque sculpture, London 1992, 56.

Historia Et Cartularium Monasterii Sancti Petri Gloucestriae, ed. by W. H. Hart, London 1863, part 1, 326; part 3, 256.

S. Lysons, A Collection of Gloucestershire Antiquities, London 1804.

C. E. Keyser, A List of Norman Tympana and Lintels, London 1927, 72, fig. 130.

C. E. Keyser, 'Supplementary notes on the Norman Tympana at Quenington Church', The Archaeological Journal, 62 (1905), 155-6.

J. R. Allen, Norman Sculpture and the mediaeval Bestiaries, London 1887, 266, 278.

M. D. Anderson, The Medieval Carver, Cambridge 1935, 63, 73.

S. Lysons, 'Description of the Church of Quenington in the County of Gloucester', Archaeologia, 10 (January 1789), 128-30.

A. W. Clapham, English Romanesque architecture after the Conquest, Oxford 1934, 137.

U. Daubeny, Ancient Cotswold Churches, Cheltenham 1921, 169-70.

D. P. Dobson, 'Anglo-Saxon Buildings and Sculpture in Gloucestershire', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 55 (1933), 261-76, especially 274-5.

J. Eccleston, An introduction to English antiquities, London 1847, 105.

A. Gardner, English medieval sculpture, Cambridge 1951, 242.

C. E. Keyser, 'An essay on the Norman doorways in the county of Gloucester', in Memorials of old Gloucestershire, ed. by P. H. Ditchfield, London 1911, 126-8, 148-50.

D. Talbot Rice, English Art, 871-1100, Oxford 1952, 79-80.

S. Rudde, A New History of Gloucestershire, Cirencester 1779, 617-9.

'Extenta Terrarum et Tenementorum Hospitalis Sancti Johannis Jerusalem in Anglia- facta per fratrem Philippum de Thame, ejusdem Hospitalis in Anglia Priorem, anno Domini millesimo trescentesimo tricesimo octavo', Camden Old Series, 65 (December 1857), 2-101, especially 28-9.

Victoria County History, A History of the County of Gloucester, vol. 7, ed. N. M. Herbert, Oxford, 1981, 126-8.

D. Verey, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, London 1970, 20, 374-5.

G. Zarnecki, 'The Coronation of the Virgin on a Capital from Reading Abbey', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 13 (1950), 1-12.