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St Michael, Blewbury, Berkshire

(51°34′10″N, 1°14′6″W)
SU 531 859
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
25 August 1991, 30 October 2013

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Late 12thc. nave and rib-vaulted crossing and chancel, with S nave aisle of similar date. N aisle added 14thc. and S chancel chapel c.1300. Perp. W tower and N and S doorways. 12thc. sculpture is found on the crossing pier capitals and crossing vault supports, on the S arcade capitals and a piscina serving the lost rood-loft altar.


Blewbury appears twice in DS. The king held the larger part which included the church, held by William Beaufour, while the Count of Evreux held the smaller. The royal manor of Blewbury was granted to Reading Abbey by the Empress Matilda (1144 x 47), and the grant was confirmed by Pope Eugenius III (1145 x 53), by Stephen (1146 x 47) and his son Eustace (1146 x 47), by Henry as Count of Anjou (1147 or 49) and as Henry II (1156 x 57), by Richard I (1189) and John (1202).


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



Vaulting/Roof Supports



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


There may well be three campaigns of sculpture here. The piscina appears to belong to the 1st quarter of the 12thc. and may have been moved to the rood loft when the chancel was remodelled. Other evidence for the earlier building (which must have replaced the church mentioned in DS) is found in a small, uncarved round-headed window in the N nave wall. The crossing, with its waterleaf capitals and pointed arches must date from c.1180-90, and its vault is by the same workshop. That the vault ribs are on raised corbels instead of falling onto capitals at the same height as the crossing arch capitals may, as Pevsner suggests, indicate a late decision to vault but it could just as well arise from difficulties in sorting out the vault geometry. The S aisle is by a third workshop using more advanced forms than the second (scallops and stiff-leaf as opposed to scallops and waterleaf) but their execution is much cruder. Pevsner suggests c.1190 for this work too, but it could have been carved well into the 13thc.


B. Kemp (ed.), Reading Abbey Cartularies, 2 vols., London, (Camden Fourth Series vols. 31 (1986) and 33 (1987))., I: 46-47, 49, 60-61, 73; II: 5-8.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth 1966, 90-91.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 173-75.

Victoria County History: Berkshire III (1923), 280-91.