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St Lawrence, Toot Baldon, Oxfordshire

(51°41′54″N, 1°10′51″W)
Toot Baldon
SP 567 003
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Nicola Lowe
17 July 2015, 29 July 2015

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The village of Toot Baldon is off the beaten track, mostly away from main roads. It occupies a ridge of high ground E of the old Roman road that ran NS between Alchester (Bicester) and Dorchester. The church lies on a rise at the end of a long lane with views SE from the churchyard over fields towards Baldon brook. It is 13thc. in appearance with continuous nave and chancel, two narrow aisles, south transept, north vestry, steeply pitched tiled roof and low rubble walls with ashlar dressings. There is a double bellcote over the west gable, according to VCH, an early example. The whole building has been much restored and the S porch rebuilt. Romanesque features are the plain N nave doorway and scallop detailing on the N arcade W respond.


The name Toot Baldon is post-Reformation. The medieval parish was Baldon St Lawrence with Toot Baldon and Little Baldon. The Lord in 1086 was Hugh and the tenant-in-chief, Swegn of Essex. When the See of Dorchester was moved to Lincoln in 1072, the church at Toot Baldon was appropriated by the Abbey and remained outside episcopal control.


Exterior Features


Interior Features






The scalloping on the W respond of the N aisle is stylistically Romanesque though the stiff leaf further along the arcade seems later. VCH notes similar leaf decoration on the arcade capitals at Benson which were described by John Marius Wilson as ‘late pointed Norman’ and by Pevsner as 13thC. Both Toot Baldon and Benson belonged to Dorchester Abbey. However, a closer parallel can be seen at nearby Chalgrove, which did not belong to Dorchester. All three churches are located within eight miles of each other and may offer evidence of local stylistic preferences or perhaps a local workshop.

The tub font is described as 13thC in VCH but could be earlier. Other early plain tub fonts with and without simple decoration exist in the county, for example at Alkerton and Northmoor, both on this site. However, Pevsner thinks the Toot Baldon font looks Victorian.


Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 5 (1957) 47-56

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1974, 818-9

J.M. Wilson, Imperial Gazeteer of England and Wales. London and Edinburgh, 1870-2, http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/9282, accessed 07/08/15