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St Michael, Alkerton, Oxfordshire

(52°4′59″N, 1°27′4″W)
SP 377 429
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Janet Newson
18 Sept 2012

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St Michael, Alkerton, is situated in a hamlet in N Oxfordshire, 4.5 miles NW of Banbury. The church stands in an attractive setting on a hillside and is built of the local ironstone. It consists of a chancel, a central tower and a clerestoried nave with a S aisle and porch, all at different levels with steps between each, the chancel being the highest. Although it is not documented before 1233, there is evidence of its 12thc. origins. The tower is the earliest part, with a lower stage resting on low rounded arches. Transepts were apparently never added. In the late 12thc., the nave was enlarged by the addition of a S aisle of two Transitional pointed arches. Early in the 13thc., the E and W tower arches were replaced by pointed ones, the chancel arch being finely moulded with slender clustered columns. The E end of the chancel is largely 17thc. The Romanesque and/or Transitional features include the S and N tower arches, the S nave arcade of two pointed arches, a small S aisle doorway, a simple carved effigy of a knight, and a plain tub font.


Richard FitzReinfrid held a manor of 6 hides from Miles Crispin, and Ralph held 3½ hides from Bishop Odo of Bayeux in 1086. The advowson of the church was in the hands of the latter by the early 13thc. This manor was granted to Wadard, a tenant of Odo after the latter'sproperty was confiscated. Wadard's descendants held the fee until 1200, when they surrendered it to their tenant William of Alkerton, who thenceforward did homage directly to King John. His father Walter preceded him as tenant and is known to have been the lord as early as 1194. In 1235 the tenant was Amaury de St Amand, and the manor was subsequently known as St Amand manor. It remained in that family throughout the medieval period.

It now belongs to the Ironstone benefice, comprising Alkerton, Balscote, Drayton, Hanwell, Horley, Hornton, Shenington and Wroxton.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches







Dating presents a problem for the features listed here, particularly as Romanesque, Transitional and 13thc. motifs seem to appear together. In the S nave arcade, bell and scallop capitals occur, both sharing the same projecting circular abaci. Perhaps older masons liked to revert to some of their old motifs on occasion. Sherwood and Pevsner suggest a possible date of c. 1200 for the knight in armour; VCH suggest probably early 13thc. The plain font, likewise, could belong to either century.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899, III, 30.

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 420-21.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 9 (1969), 44-53.