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St Cecilia, Adstock, Buckinghamshire

(51°57′52″N, 0°55′53″W)
SP 735 301
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
18 June 2008

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Feature Sets

Adstock is a village towards the N of central Buckinghamshire, 4 miles SE of Buckingham to the N of the main road to Aylesbury. The compact village clusters around a junction of minor roads with the church at its SW edge.

St Cecilia’s consists of a nave with a S porch, chancel and W tower. The aisleless nave is 12thc with its N and S doorways in place; the former blocked and the latter covered by a porch bearing the date 1581 on a sundial in the gable. The chancel dates from the 14thc, and has a chancel arch on corbels decorated with naturalistic foliage, trefoil-headed piscina and windows with reticulated or flowing tracery. The N priest’s doorway has been blocked. The 15thc tower has an embattled parapet and the tower arch is tall and narrow with the arch orders dying into the jambs. Its construction may have been part of a major 15thc reconstruction, when the nave walls were rebuilt with two big three-light windows in each and an embattled parapet added. The church is of coursed rubble with ironstone blocks decoratively used on the quoins and buttresses. Romanesque sculpture is found on the two nave doorways.


The manor of Adstock was held by Gytha, wife of Earl Ralph, in 1066, and by 1086 it had passed to Ambrose, who held it from William Peverel. It was assessed at 10 hides with meadow for 7 plough-teams. After 1086 the manor was held by the overlords in demesne. Another William Peverel, a son or grandson of the Domesday lord, was stripped of his lands in 1153 by Henry of Anjou (later Henry II) for his support of Stephen in the Civil War. Adstock was granted to William Avenel, who passed it to his two sons-in-law, with the one part going to Richard Vernon, married to Avis and the other to Simon Basset, married toElizabeth. Richard Vernon was dead by 1195, and the manor passed to his son William, who granted it to his half-brother, Robert while retaining rights over it. It remained in theVernonfamily until the death of George Vernon in 1566. Simon Basset died around 1205, and his portion of Adstock remained in the Basset family until the mid-13thc, but in 1280 the manor appeared as the property of Robert Bardolf who died in 1305 leaving his daughter Avis as heir. From her it passed to John de Hausted, and later by marriage to John Cope (1393), staying in this family until after 1489.

The church and a carucate of land were granted by William Avenel to the abbot and convent of St Mary de Pre, Leicester, in the later 12thc, and the abbot continued to present to the church despite an attempt by the Bardolfs in 1283 to wrest the right from him, until 1427, after which the right of advowson passed to the lords of the manor.


Exterior Features



There are some similarities with the font at Maids’ Moreton, here identified as a product of the Northamptonshire School, active in the 1140s and ‘50s. The obvious motifs are the use of nailhead strapwork and palmettes, and these also occur in carvings by the school at sites within Northamptonshire, including Dodford and St Peter’s Northampton.


Anon, St Cecilia’s Church, Adstock: History. Undated

N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London1960, 2nd ed. 1994.

N. Pevsner, Buildings ofEngland: Buckinghamshire.London1960, 45.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north). London 1913

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 140-44.