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St Michael and All Angels, Fringford, Oxfordshire

(51°57′28″N, 1°7′15″W)
SP 605 292
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Jane Cunningham
  • Janet Newson
13 May 2013

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Fringford is 4 miles NE of Bicester. The present church comprises a chancel, clerestoried nave with S and N aisles and a W tower. The shell of the nave may be 12thc. The S arcade is thought to be a 13thc. addition, possibly rebuilt in the 14thc. (VCH). The church was rebuilt piecemeal in the 19thc.: the chancel in 1821, the N aisle in 1829 and again in 1905, and the tower was added in 1831. The remaining Romanesque features are the two round-headed bays with a round pier and scalloped capitals in the original N arcade, and the S doorway, now in the S aisle wall, which is supposedly a copy of the original by G.E. Street from 1857.


There is evidence of a church here from the beginning of the 12thc. It is believed, however, that the church stands on the site of a Saxon wooden building. Soon after the Norman Conquest, Fringford was included in the estates given to Bishop Odo by the king. When Odo was exiled, the land passed to William de Arsic of Cogges, near Witney. The earliest evidence of a church dates from 1103, when William's son Manesses Arsic, lord of Fringford, granted it to the Benedictine priory at Cogges, which he had founded. It is uncertain whether Cogges ever exercised the right to present (VCH).

Fringford belongs to the Shelswell benefice, comprising Cottisford, Finmere, Fringford, Goddington, Hardwick, Hethe, Mixbury, Newton Purcell, Stoke Lyne and Stratton Audley.


Exterior Features


Interior Features



The original S doorway had been noted by J.H. Parker in 1848 (Sherwood and Pevsner), and was copied by G.E. Street in 1857. Unfortunately it seems that no image exists of the original. The presence of bird beaks without heads suggests that perhaps the heads were already too badly damaged for copying, as each voussoir has a plain space above the beak and a chevron that is large enough to take a head. The copied beaks lack the small variations that might have been present in the originals, but they display the typical characteristics, being keeled, and lying over a roll moulding. However, the moulding itself is atypical because it too becomes keeled between each pair of beaks.


J. Newson, Beakhead Decoration on Romanesque Arches in the Upper Thames Valley, Oxoniensia, 78 (2013), 71-86.

J.H. Parker, An Introduction to the Study of Gothic Architecture, Oxford, 1st edition (1848).

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 607-8.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 6 (1959), 125-134.