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St Michael, Enborne, Berkshire

(51°23′22″N, 1°22′34″W)
SU 435 658
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now West Berkshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
28 August 1990, 20 November 2013

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Enborne is a village in the SW of the county, 2 miles W of Newbury on the S bank of the Kennet. The church is a low, broad building with a timber bell turret over the W end. Otherwise it consists of a nave, chancel and N transept. Aisles were added to an earlier nave towards the end of the 12thc. and at the same time the nave was extended one bay to the W. Sculpture is found on the nave capitals and the font.


Four holdings were recorded in Enborne in 1086. The most important was William fitzCorbucion's holding of 8 hides that had been assessed at 10 hides when it was held by Tovi as a manor before the Conquest. Next, William Lovet held 3 hides and 1 virgate that had been held as a manor by Toti previously.Ghilo de Pinkney (founder of Weedon priory, Northants) held land assessed at 1 hide that had been valued at 3½ hides before the Conquest. Finally Roger de Lacy held land assessed at 3 hides before the Conquest but only 1 hide in 1086. No church was mentioned in connection with any of these holdings, but when first recorded the advowson was attached to William fitzCorbucion's manor. At some time afterwards it passed to the Earls of Warwick (Thomas de Newburgh died in 1242 in possession of half a knight's fee there).


Interior Features






The nave arcade and the font belong to different campaigns. Capitals of all three types are also found in the nave arcade at Lambourn, and a workshop connection seems certain. Both arcades must date from c.1170-80. The font, on the other hand, belongs to an earlier period, perhaps in the first quarter of the 12thc., and may be contemporary with the original, aisleless church. Pevsner (1966) desscribes the decoration as 'mysterious vertical objects of diver kinds' and Tyack wonders whether some of them might be Instruments of the Passion. Similar motifs - elaborate vertical forms including spiral columns, human and animal heads - carved in a similar, crude style occur on a capital from Saint-Paul de Cormery, now in the Muse de la Société Archéologique in Tours, probably dating from the beginning of the 12thc. (Lelong (1977)). Neither the Enborne font nor the Cormery capital is susceptible of any straightforward interpretation. The latter includes a pair of figures which provides some scope for speculation, whereas the font probably represents no more than a display of a wide repertoire of crude decorative motifs.


C. Lelong, Touraine Romane, La Pierre-Qui-Vire, 1977, 157, pl.43 (for Cormery)

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth 1966, 136.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 291

Victoria History of the Counties of England: Berkshire. London. Vol. 4 (1924), 168-74.