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St Mary, Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

(51°52′18″N, 1°16′25″W)
SP 501 195
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Janet Newson
  • John Blair
  • Sarah Blair
09 January 1993, 07 August 2014

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Feature Sets

The village of Kirtlington is situated 6.5 miles W of Bicester. A church was recorded here in 1086. The present church consists of chancel, axial tower, S chapel, nave and aisles. In 1250 the nave was rebuilt, and N and S aisles with arcades of three bays were also added. The ruinous upper stage of the tower was replaced in neo-Romanesque style by Benjamin Ferrey in 1853. The chancel was rebuilt again by G.G. Scott in 1877-8, with two plain round-headed windows on each side, said to copy earlier detail. The earliest visible evidence of the church is the surviving early Romanesque arches to E and W in the base of the tower, the W retaining its original jambs and imposts, and the E being much restored and with heavier, block-like jambs and imposts incorporated. There is also a small carved tympanum, now reset in the NE nave wall over the vestry door.


In the 11thc. Kirtlington was a royal manor of Edward the Confessor, and it remained a royal manor until 1604 when it was sold by the crown. In 1086, Domesday book provides the first record of the church. It was given by Jordan and Lucy de Sai to Aulnay Abbey in or soon after 1131. It was a valuable benefice (VCH).

When the chancel was rebuilt in 1877, the foundations of an early 12thc. apse were found beneath the floor. This had been replaced by a conventional rectangular one in the late 12thc.

The church is in the Akeman benefice, comprising Bletchingdon, Great Chesterton, Hampton Gay, Kirtlington, Middleton Stoney, Wendlebury and Weston-on-the-Green.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Interior Decoration


According to VCH, an assembly was held in the royal manor of Kirtlington in 977, attended by Edward the Martyr and Archbishop Dunstan. Shellard (1990) suggests that this meeting took place in a stone-built Saxon church. The heavier elements of the E arch of the tower might be from an earlier build, but whether as early as the 10thc. is questionable.


H. Shellard, St Mary the Virgin, Kirtlington Oxford, illustrated church guide, 1990, n.p.

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 675-6.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 6 (1959), 219-232.