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St Faith, Shellingford, Berkshire

(51°38′25″N, 1°32′25″W)
SU 319 936
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
07 May 1990, 02 December 2013

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A complete late 12thc. church of aisleless nave, chancel and W tower, the last with round-headed lower windows but lancets in its upper storeys. There was an internal restoration in 1850, when the chancel floor was raised to the level of the nave floor. More recently, a vestry has been built on the N side of the nave, enclosing the N nave doorway which now gives access to the vestry from inside the church, and which is therefore no longer visible from the exterior. Nevertheless it has here been treated as an external doorway. A photograph taken circa 1900, before the building of the vestry, has kindly been supplied by Peter Moore.

Late 12thc. sculptural work is found on the S and N doorways of the nave, the Priest's doorway on the S side of the chancel, and the chancel arch.


Shellingford was a possession of Abingdon Abbey before and after the Conquest. It was assessed at 12 hides in 1066 and in 1086. Two hides were held from the abbot by Gilbert and 1 hide by Wimund. The abbey's estate was known later as Shellingford Newbury and remained in their possession until the Dissolution. The later manor of Shellingford Blewbury probably represents the Domesday holdings of Gilbert and Wimund, which had passed to the Salmon family by the time of Henry II and remained in their possession until the 14thc. The advowson of the church remained with the abbey until it was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1538.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

There is no reason to doubt that the same workshop was responsible for all three doorways and the chancel arch. The S nave and chancel doorways have similar inner and outer orders, and both have shaft rings. The inner order of the N doorway is a continuous version of that on the S nave doorway, and similar waterleaf capitals are found on the N doorway and S chancel doorway. It may not be too far-fetched to see the beakhead on the N doorway as a variant of the S chancel doorway chevron. The chancel arch is, of course, a different type of structure, so comparisons are limited to the capitals. The second order N capital of the chancel arch is of the same type as the second order E capital of the S chancel doorway, and emphasized bells are found both on the chancel arch and on this doorway.

The same workshop was responsible for the W doorway at Lambourn and probably the S doorway at Ashbury, which have close similarities with both S doorways here.


C.E. Keyser, 'The Norman doorways in the County of Berkshire, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal 6 (1900), 8-18..

C. E. Keyser, 'Notes on the Churches of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Hatford and Shellingford, and the Chapels of Goosey and Baulking', Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal, 20 (1914-15), 1-9, 33-37, 65-72, 97-102.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 214-15.

J. Salmon, 'Beakhead Ornament in Norman Architecture', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 143 (1946), 349ff.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 508-09.

Victoria History of the Counties of England: Berkshire. London. Vol. 4 (1924), 475-78.