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St Mary, Ashbury, Berkshire

(51°33′47″N, 1°37′8″W)
SU 265 850
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
27 August 1990, 02 December 2013

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Ashbury is in the west of the county, one mile from the Wiltshire border and 6 miles E of Swindon. The village is at the crossing of minor roads on the S side of the Vale of the White Horse, N of the Ridgeway and only a mile from Wayland’s Smithy. The church, near the village centre, consists of an aisled nave with a N porch, N and S transepts, a chancel and a W tower. There are remains of a 12thc nave arcade on the aisle side of the present, later arcade, indicating that the Romanesque church had aisles. The S doorway also has 12th-century sculpture. The church was reseated with some repairs by J. W. Hugall in 1872-73, and further repairs were carried out in 1905-10, 1930, 1949-50, 1955-56 and 1963-65.


The Domesday Survey mentions a church with a priest holding one hide within the manor. At this time the manor and the advowson were held by Glastonbury (the abbey's only estate in Berkshire) which traced its title to a charter of 947. Disputes over the Glastonbury estates between the abbey and the see of Bath and Wells in the 12thc. and 13thc. were eventually settled by papal delegates in 1218. In the case of Ashbury the estate reverted to the monks while the advowson was held by the bishop.


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Some features of the S doorway can be traced back to Avington: the bosses on the label (cf. Avington chancel arch, W face label), and the palmette capitals (cf. Avington, S doorway, W capital), but the closest parallels are with the Shellingford/Lambourn group.

The S nave doorway at Shellingford has a similar form, with point-to-point chevron over an angle roll, a decorated label chamfer and beast head label stops, but the undercutting in the capitals, the shaft rings on the colonettes, and the extra elaboration of the inner order indicate a later date for Shellingford. It is notable that both doorways have a keystone significantly narrower than the other voussoirs, and that they are exactly the same width and differ in height by only 0.10 m. To the same group belongs the W doorway at Lambourn, generally closer to Shellingford but with label stops like those at Ashbury.


N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 70-72.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 139-40.

Victoria History of the Counties of England: Berkshire, vol. 4 (1924), 503-12.