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Holy Rood, Sparsholt, Berkshire

(51°35′7″N, 1°30′7″W)
SU 346 875
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
26 August 1991, 02 December 2013

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Sparsholt is a village in the Vale of the White Horse, 3 miles W of Wantage. The church is a long, untidy building with a 13thc. W tower with a broach spire (renewed in 1796); a 14thc. nave and chancel and a S transept (N transept removed). The reset N and S nave doorways are late 12thc or early 13thc, and there is a plain 12thc. font.


Sparsholt comprised three manors held by three freemen in 1066. They were combined into one under Froger the Sheriff, and in 1086 it was held by the king in demesne. Henry I granted it with Aldermaston and other manors to Robert Achard, and it passed to his son and grandson (both Williams) and remained in the same line throughout the Middle Ages.

In 1086 the royal manor included a church held with one hide by Edred the priest, and this also passed to Robert Achard.


Exterior Features





Both doorways belong to the same campaign of c.1200, including many features not normally classed as Romanesque (stiff-leaf, moulded arches and imposts, filleted mouldings, capitals without necking running into their shafts etc.). They are here included since they are found in combination with such Romanesque forms as beast-head label stops and waterleaf. The remaining fabric is all later than these doorways which can therefore be assumed to come from an earlier building. The font must be earlier still.


C. E. Keyser, 'An Architectural Account of the Churches of Sparsholt and Childrey', Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal, 11 (1905-06), 81-90, 97-107.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 223.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 525-26.

Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 311-19.