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St Margaret, Lewknor, Oxfordshire

(51°52′26″N, 1°19′2″W)
SP 471 197
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval St Mary
now St Margaret
  • Jane Cunningham
  • Janet Newson
09 August 2013

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Lewknor lies at the foot of the Chilterns in SE Oxfordshire, close to the M40 motorway. The church is built of flint with stone dressings, with a few courses of brick in the N wall. The 12thc. church, originally a cruciform building, consisted of a chancel, nave and transeptal chapels. In the 14thc. the chancel was enlarged, and a S aisle and porch were added. The W tower is a 15thc. addition. The Romanesque is now represented by the N transeptal chapel with a blocked round-headed doorway, the nave with a pair of lancet windows on each side at the W end, the S and N restored corbel tables, and internally by the almost complete string course around the nave and chancel arch. A fine Romanesque font is sculpted overall with interlacing and linked circles containing various motifs, including two human heads.


This was a Saxon spring line settlement. The name Lewknor derived from Leofecanora, or Leofeca's slope, after its owner, since at least 990AD. In the 11thc. the manor of Luivechenora was held by Edith of Wessex, who in 1045 became queen consort of Edward the Confessor. The manor then passed to the Danish thegn, Tovi, who bequeathed it to Abingdon Abbey. Pope Eugenius III confirmed Abingdon Abbey in possession of Lewknor in 1146, but without mentioning a church. The first documentary evidence of it dates from 1200, and so its existence must date from the second half of the 12thc. The Abbot and convent of Abingdon were lords of the manor and patrons of the church until 1440, when it passed to All Souls College, Oxford. The N transeptal chapel was appropriated by the lords of the manor as a burial place, first by the Rolles family and from 1721 by the Jodrells.

Lewknor is now in the Thame benefice, together with Adwell, Crowell and Sydenham.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Tower/Transept arches

Interior Decoration

String courses




Both the shape of the font and its decoration of interlaced beaded circles resembles that at St Helen’s, Berrick Salome, in S Oxfordshire (Tiller, 2011). The font at Berrick Salome is simpler, showing only interlaced beaded circles, as on the N side of Lewknor’s font, and only two rows of them. It also has an attenuated version of the beaded short straps that at Lewknor join the beaded circles vertically and horizontally. Although it lacks some of the sculpted motifs that enrich the Lewknor font, it must have been executed by the same masons.


J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1974, pp. 683.

L. Tiller, The Restoration of Berrick Salome Church, Oxoniensia 76 (2011), pp. 81-94.

Victoria County History: A History of the County of Oxfordshire, Volume 8 (1964), pp. 98-115.