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St Mary, Long Wittenham, Berkshire

(51°38′34″N, 1°12′34″W)
Long Wittenham
SU 548 941
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
6 May 1990, 30 October 2013

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Feature Sets

Long Wittenham is a village in the Thames valley, 3 miles N of Didcot. The church built c.1120 by Walter Giffard, 3rd Earl of Buckingham, consisted of an aisleless nave and a short chancel. A S aisle was added c.1200, running the entire length of the nave, with an arcade of four bays, and a N aisle of three bays was added to the eastern part of the nave c.1350. The piers of the two aisles do not correspond. The 12thc. chancel was extended eastwards to its present length in the 13thc., and a new E window fitted in the 14thc. The chancel was entirely rebuilt in 1850. A S transept was added c.1300, traditionally by Joan, widow of Gilbert de Clare (d1295), as a memorial chapel. It now functions as the vestry. A W tower was added in the 15thc. The chancel arch capitals are the only stone sculpture remaining from the original 12thc. church, although it is perhaps better known for its lead font - illustrated here but not described as it does not fall within the remit of this project.


The manor was held by Queen Edith in 1066, when it was assessed at 20 hides, and by Walter Giffard in demesne in 1086, now assessed at 13 hides and 1 virgate. Walter died in 1102, and his son Walter in 1164, leaving no children. The manor remained in the king's hands until 1194 when it was granted to the descendants of Rohais, sister of the Walter Giffard who had died in 1102 as Earl of Buckingham. She was married to Richard FitzGilbert. The manor subsequently passed, with other Giffard lands, to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, and he granted the tenancy to Hugh de Sandford and his brother Richard and Ralph de St Helen.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

It is unfortunate that the spectacular chancel arch capitals are so badly preserved. We have been unable to discover workshop parallels within the county to date.


Anon, Long Wittenham church guide.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 170-71.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 362-63.

Victoria History of the Counties of England: Berkshire. London. vol. 4 (1924), 384-90.

J. W. Walker, 'Long Wittenham Church', Berkshire Archaeological Journal, 35 (1931), 6-27.