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All Saints, Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire

(51°54′20″N, 1°13′46″W)
Middleton Stoney
SP 531 233
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Lincoln
now Oxford
  • Janet Newson
12, 26 July 2012, 26 June 2013

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Middleton Stoney is situated in N Oxfordshire, 11 miles N of Oxford and 3 miles W of Bicester. The church stands in private grounds next to a tree-covered mound to the E that was the site of a castle, both buildings dating from around 1150. The original church consisted of a nave and chancel, and the chancel and S doorway date from this time. In the 1190s a new chancel arch was built, and a N arcade of three Transitional arches and a N doorway were added. Early in the 13th century a W tower of four stages was added. Later, in the early 14th century, a S aisle was built and the Romanesque S nave doorway was reset in the new wall. A clerestory was added to the nave in the 15th century, and the S porch was rebuilt using materials from a former 13th-century one. A Gothic-style mausoleum to the Earls of Jersey was added on the N side of the chancel in 1805, later Normanised by Teulon. The much-travelled font (see History), acquired in 1860, has been claimed as that used to baptise King Edward the Confessor. Although it appears fashioned in 14th-century style, it might be a re-carved Saxon or Romanesque bucket font. The main Romanesque features surviving from the original building are the carved S aisle doorway with elaborate chevron and a figurative tympanum, the external stringcourse around the chancel and a chancel window. From the 1190s there is a N aisle doorway with carved headstops and a Transitional N arcade, whose piers show elaborately carved and individual leaf decoration on the basal spurs as well as variants of stiff leaf on the capitals.


There is little documentary evidence of the early history of the church. The advowson was granted to the Abbot and Convent of Barlings, Lincolnshire, at an unknown date. The probable donor was Gerard de Camville, who by his marriage to Nichole de Hay had become patron of this Premonstratensian abbey, founded by his wife's uncle in 1154.

The font now at Middleton Stoney has had a long history. It is said to have originated in the King’s Chapel at Islip, Oxon, which was abandoned in the 17th century and later demolished. King Edward the Confessor had granted the manor of Islip to Westminster Abbey by a charter which stated he was born there. In 1661 the font was rescued by Sir Thomas Brown, who found it being used to make animal feed and took it to the church on his own estate, St Nicholas, Kiddington, Oxon. An engraving of it was made by Robert Plot in his History of Oxfordshire in 1677. In the 19th century it was reported in the parish of Ambrosden, Oxon, and in the rectory garden at Islip, Oxon. Later it was given to the Countess of Jersey who presented it to All Saints, Middleton Stoney.

All Saints belongs to the Akeman benefice, comprising Bletchingdon, Great Chesterton, Hampton Gay, Kirtlington, Middleton Stoney, Wendlebury and Weston-on-the-Green.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches






It seems that both Romanesque doorways were reset by Teulon in the mid-19th century, implying two resets for the S doorway. Here, the absence of a lintel is associated with a segmental arch with a hog-back. A similar construction is found on the S doorway at St Mary’s, Westwell, near Burford in S Oxfordshire (Blair and Blair, 2008).

The basal spurs of the piers and responds of the Transitional N nave arcade are worthy of comment for their high degree of workmanship. All are individual, and some show deep undercutting. It is not known how much Teulon might have 'restored' or embellished them. They contrast with the earlier simple ones of the chancel arch respond bases that must date from the original build of 1150 and are relatively common in Oxfordshire.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 201.

J. and S. Blair, 'St Mary, Westwell, Oxfordshire'. The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/search/county/site/ed-ox-westw.html (2008).

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 701-3.

Top. Oxon. A Bulletin of Oxfordshire Local History, no.5, Autumn 1960, 2.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, VI (1959), 243-251.