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St Giles, Cheddington, Buckinghamshire

(51°51′10″N, 0°39′45″W)
SP 922 180
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
14 March 2008

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Cheddington is a village in the east of the county, towards the Bedfordshire border, 6½ miles east of Aylesbury. It is built on the northern slopes of the twin hills of Westend and Southend, both of which were anciently terraced for cultivation. There was an Iron Age hillfort on Southend Hill, one of a string along the Chilterns, and discoveries of pottery attest to Roman occupation in the area. Traces of a Roman road have been discovered running through Pitstone and along Cheddington High Street. The church stands outside the village towards the north. It consists of a nave with a N aisle and S porch, a chancel with a 19thc N vestry, and a W tower with a polygonal S stair. In 1993 a kitchen and lavatory block was built on the N side of the tower, entered from the nave aisle. Inside the nave, a row of three carved corbels along at the S wall, with the remains of two more at the NW and SW angles, all at a height of 3m, suggest that this is 12thc fabric. On the exterior of the S nave wall a break in the coursed ashlar masonry to the E of the easternmost corbel suggests that the nave was later extended eastwards. The 12thc corbels supported a roof that was heightened in the 15thc, when tall, two-light, square framed windows were installed. The N aisle with its 3-bay arcade was added at the same time. There is no clerestorey. The aisle windows are of the same design as those in the nave wall, and the blocked N doorway is 4-centred. The chancel arch is 14thc, and the chancel itself must date from the same period, but new windows like those in the nave and aisle were added in the 15thc. The E window is a 3-light geometrical design added in 1854-62. The N vestry was added in 1858. The tower and its arch are 15thc work, except for the plain parapet which is modern. There was a general restoration in 1858, when the S porch was rebuilt. A large number of Romanesque carved stones were built into the fabric at the time of this restoration, including a volute capital in the E wall of the vestry, the remains of a doorway and a section of stringcourse inside the S porch, and relief panels inside and outside the porch that came from the same doorway. The interior corbels and the reset stone are described below.


The Domesday Survey records seven holdings in Cheddington, only one of which was called a manor. This was held by Gilbert from Robert de Tosny in 1086, and comprised 5½ hides and meadow for 2 plough-teams. The manor was held by Oswulf, son of Frani, a thegn of King Edwards before the Conquest. In addition Ralph held 1 hide and 1 virgate from the Count of Mortain, land held by three of Archbishop Stigand’s men before the Conquest, and Ranulf held ½ hide from the same Count, that was held by Leofing, a man of the Abbot of St Albans before 1066. A further ½ hide was held by Swaerting from William son of Ansculf in 1086, that was held before 1066 by another Leofing, a man of King Edward. Swarting also held 2 hides and 1 virgate from the King, along with meadow for 1 plough-team. This was held by Fin the Dane before 1066. Ralph had a holding of 1½ hides from Robert D’Oilly in 1086, and this parcel also included meadow for 1 plough-team. It was also held before 1066 by Fin the Dane. Finally Hugh of Bolbec held ½ hide that was waste; Wulfwin of Whaddon held it before the Conquest.

The manor held from Robert de Tosny was afterwards called Elsage, and remained under the overlordship of the barony of Belvoir. Ralph Chenduit was named as the tenant in the early 13thc, and his descendants granted it to Merton College Oxford later in the century. The church had previously been given by Alice, wife of Ralph Chenduit to Nostell Priory (Yorks) in 1215. A dispute in 1285 between the Warden of Merton and the Prior of Nostell over the right of presentation to the church was settled in favour of the prior.

The parish is now in the benefice of Cheddington with Mentmore and Marsworth.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Interior Features

Vaulting/Roof Supports


The reset fragments appear to come from one or two doorways. The closest parallels are with the S doorways of Twyford 17 miles to the W and Leckhampstead 17 miles to the NW (and 8 miles N of Twyford), with which is associated the S doorway of Dinton, 10 miles SW of Cheddington. Specific parallels include the bird capitals and the use of chip-carving (seen Cheddington, Leckhampstead and Dinton); nook-shafts decorated with spiral (Dinton and Cheddington) and fishscale ornament (Leckhampstead and Cheddington). At Dinton the label of the doorway is a double-chamfered billet-decorated stringcourse that extends down to the pavement on both jambs, and the stringcourse here may have performed the same function. Also at Dinton, the impost chamfers are decorated with a form of leaf decoration not dissimilar in concept to the curious treatment of the nave corbel (i) above. Mention must be made of the daisy reliefs that are such a feature at Cheddington, and must, to judge from their relation to the reset bird capitals, have formed vertical rows on the jambs of the doorway, as at Twyford. This motif is unusual, but a suggestive comparison is with the stone now set, uselessly, as a sundial at the apex of the arch at Leckhampstead. The primitive form of beakhead, as seen on the reconstructed arch here, is not common in Buckinghamshire, but a chancel arch jamb at Twyford provides a comparison. All four of the sites discussed above must be dated c.1130-40, and provide evidence of an important workshop active throughout the county at that time.


Buckinghamshire Sites and Monuments Records. BCC 0415400000

English Heritage Listed Building 41994

J. Mullett, St Giles Church Cheddington. A Short Guide. 1984 (4th ed. 2002).

N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 84.

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

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in theCountyofBuckingham. Volume 2 (north).London1913, 82-84.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 331-34.