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Sutton Courtenay Norman Hall, Berkshire

(51°38′39″N, 1°16′22″W)
Sutton Courtenay Norman Hall
SU 504 942
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
10 March 2010

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Feature Sets

Sutton Courtenay is a picturesque village in the NE of Berkshire, alongside the river Thames and some 2 miles S of Abingdon. The village is a long one, extending over a series of minor roads that run S from the river towards Didcot. The oldest parts of the village, including the parish church, the manor house and Norman Hall, and the 13thc rectory house, now known as the Abbey, are grouped at the N end, near the river. Norman Hall is a rectangular building of late 12thc date, built of rubble with ashlar quoins. It is aligned from E to W, and it has thus been suggested (VCH) that it may once have been a chapel, but there is no direct evidence for this. It now has 20thc additions to the N, and is a private residence. The only visible 12thc work is on the S doorway, towards the W end of the S wall; the simple round-headed N doorway, described as “continuously moulded” by Pevsner, is now inside, linking the 12thc hall to the modern addition. This is unfortunately no longer available for examination. According to VCH there were originally four pointed lancets in the S wall. Two survive towards the E end, the westernmost of which has been recently given new jambs, and there is another in the W wall. The three-light E window is 15thc work.


In 1086 the manor was held by the king except for 120 acres (wrongfully) held by Henry of Ferrers and 1 hide held by Alwin the priest from the Abbot of Abingdon. Henry II granted the manor to Henry, son of Gerald, who might have exchanged it for Sparsholt, according to VCH. Land here was held in 1160 by Reynold de Courtenay, who received a grant of the manor from King Henry II between 1175 and 1184. It remained in this family, later Earls of Devon, until 1462, when it was reclaimed by the Crown.


Exterior Features



This is a Grade 1 listed building and deservedly so, for its rarity and date. A date of 1190-1200 is suggested by Pevsner, while English Heritage and VCH both prefer late-12thc. A suggestion that Robert de Courtenay, son of Reynold, was responsible for building it around 1192 comes from David Nash Ford’s Royal Berkshire History


N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 236.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 550.

Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 369-79.