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St Nicholas, Kiddington, Oxfordshire

(51°54′11″N, 1°24′14″W)
SP 411 229
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Janet Newson
11 October 2010

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The hamlet of Kiddington is 4 miles NW of Woodstock. It is likely that the original Romanesque church was a small two-cell structure of nave and chancel, perhaps no bigger than the present enlarged chancel. The original chancel had an apsidal E end with an exterior decorated corbel table. The rest of the church is decorated and thought to be all one build. The chancel was extended westwards with a second chancel arch, together with the nave, a large S chapel, a S porch and a W tower. It was probably at this time that the original apse was taken down, as its large blocked arch held a 14thc. window, as shown by J.C. Buckler in a drawing of 1821. In 1845, G.G. Scott rebuilt the apsidal chancel on its original foundations, inserting three narrow round-headed windows. It is presumed that parts of the original Romanesque chancel arch were re-used for the new apse arch, and also the Romanesque corbels. In 1879 a vestry was added on the N side, requiring some of the corbels to be remounted within it.


Kiddington, along with Heythrop 7 miles to the N, was given c. 780 by Offa, king of the Mercians, to Worcester Priory. It was reputedly lost by the priory in the 9thc., and in 1086 was held, as was Heythrop, by Hasculf Musard. Assessed at 5 hides and held as knight’s fee, the manor descended in the Musard family, but, as with their other Oxfordshire estates, the connection became tenuous in the late 13thc.

The church is situated next to Kiddington Hall, whose origins date back to 1673. It is now in the Benefice of Wootton, Glympton and Kiddington.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration


J.C. Buckler’s drawing of 1821 depicts a flat E end where the apse had been, with a clear outline of its arch, almost the full width of the space, blocked up and containing a 14thc. window. The present apse arch, restored by G.G. Scott appears Romanesque and in good condition, and there must have been several W-facing elements left in position, undamaged, on the inside. The new E face is plain. Viewing the chancel externally today leaves no doubt that both parts were rebuilt integrally in 1845, and the corbels would have been reinstated too. It is not known whether the present ordering or number of the corbels is the same as the original, especially as the apse now bears seven blank stones. Their ordering was changed again when the vestry was built in 1879. The two exhibitionists are now placed where they are difficult to view, the female figure hidden behind the vestry roof and the male within the vestry.


J.C. Buckler, Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS.Top.Oxon.a.67, 354. Kiddington Church, S view, drawing 1821.

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 668-9.