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St Peter, Worminghall, Buckinghamshire

(51°46′1″N, 1°4′15″W)
SP 642 080
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
06 July 2007

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Worminghall is a village in the east of central Buckinghamshire, 11 miles SW of Aylesbury near the Oxfordshire border, formed at this point by the river Thame. The village is in the wooded, rolling pasture-land of the Thame floodplain, and the church stands at the end of a lane at the southern edge of the village.

The church has a nave with a S porch, chancel with a 19thc N vestry and a W tower. The chancel arch is narrow and early 12thc., and alongside it is a round-headed squint. The S nave doorway is 12thc too, but later in date, while the 12thc N doorway was remade when the nave wall was rebuilt, reusing its 15thc windows, in 1847. On the S side are plain 13thc lancets, one a replacement, the other much restored. The chancel dates from the early 14thc and was given a new E window in the 15thc. The other chancel windows are 19thc replacements in a geometrical style. The tower is 15thc with diagonal W buttresses and a S stair. Its battlements have been replaced. Construction is of coursed rubble, except for the replaced N wall, of coursed squared blocks. Romanesque features recorded here are the N and S nave doorways, the chancel arch and the plain font.


In 1086 the manor of Worminghall was held by the Bishop of Coutances, and from him by Robert. It was assessed at 5 hides and also contained meadow for 2 plough-teams and woodland for 200 pigs. Before the Conquest it was held by Eadgifu from Queen Edith.

Charters for two markets and two fairs, all to be held at the manor, were granted by Edward I in 1304, one of each to John de la Ryvere and John de Ripariis. These look like the French and Latin versions of the same name, and would certainly represent a clerical error except that both the weekly markets and the annual fairs were on different days.

The church of Worminghall was given by William, son of Elyas, and his wife Emma to the Augustinian priory of St Frideswide, Oxford in 1172, and H. E. Salter has convincingly argued that this William was identical with the chronicler William of Newburgh, born in 1135 or 1136, who married the heiress Emma de Peri when he was 25 or 30 and whose descendants went by the name of fitzEllis. In 1182 or 1183 William left his wife and entered the monastery of Newburgh, where his brother was the prior, and it was there that he wrote his chronicle. Worminghall church was still held by St Frideswide’s at the visitation of 1520. It is now part of the benefice of Worminghall with Ickford, Oakley and Shabbington.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




The narrowness of the chancel arch and the form of its capitals and bases suggests a date around 1100. The S doorway is rather later and more accomplished, and is likely to date from c.1170. The font could belong to either campaign: its simple shape suggests the earlier date whereas its chamfers point to the later one, although it is hard to believe that it is by the workshop that carved the S doorway. The N doorway could well be a complete pastiche.


N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, .

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 1 (south). London 1912, 325-26.

H. E. Salter, “William of Newburgh”, English Historical Review, 22, 87 (1907), 510-14.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 125-30.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire. II (1907), 97-101 (on St Frideswide’s)