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St Nicholas, Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire

(51°44′47″N, 0°48′23″W)
Great Kimble
SP 825 060
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
27 February 2007

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Feature Sets

Great Kimble is a village in the Chiltern Hills, 4½ miles S of Aylesbury, on the A4010 road toHigh Wycombe. The village is on the western slopes of the wooded Beacon Hill. To the N of the village, between Great and Little Kimble, are earthworks typical of a motte and bailey castle, and to the SE is Pulpit Hill camp, an Iron Age hill fort. The church is in the centre of the village, alongside the main road. It has an aisled and clerestoried nave with 4-bay arcades dating from the late 13thc; a chancel rebuilt by J. P. Seddon in 1876-81, raised on four steps with N and S chapels (the N an organ room), each with a 2-bay arcade towards the chancel; and a 13thc W tower to which an embattled parapet has been added. Chequered flushwork-decorated parapets have also been added to the nave, aisle and chancel roofs, and this must be 15thc work (where it is nor Seddon’s). Construction is of flints with stone dressings. The only Romanesque work here is the font, one of the masterworks of the Aylesbury group.


Great Kimble was held by Hugh de Bolbec from Walter Giffard in 1086. It was assessed at 20 hides with meadow for 11 ploughs and wood for fences. Before the Conquest it was held by Sigeraed, a thegn of King Edward. Great Kimble church was part of the original endowment of Missenden Abbey, along with the churches of Great Missenden, Chalfont St. Peter and Weston Turville and its chapels within the county and other churches and lands in Huntingdonshire and Oxfordshire. Missenden Abbey was a house of Augustinian canons, founded in 1133 by one William of Missenden. Great Kimble church and manor were counted among the possessions of the abbey in Henry VIII’s Valor Ecclesiasticus, made prior to the Dissolution.

The parish is now in the benefice of Ellesborough, the Kimbles and Stoke Mandeville.





The font belongs to a group of 22 (according to Pevsner) centred on Aylesbury, of which thirteen (not all complete) are in Buckinghamshire. These are at Aylesbury, Bledlow, Buckland, Chearsley, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden, Linslade, Little Missenden, Monks Risborough, Pitstone, Weston Turville and Wing. Of these the finest are at Aylesbury, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden (base only), Weston Turville and Wing (base only). Others in the group have shallower or less complex carving, while a further three in the county, at Ludgershall, Saunderton and Haddenham, are less adept copies of the design. Outside Buckinghamshire there are related fonts at Duston and Eydon in Northants, and at Barton-le-Clay, Dunstable, Flitwick and Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire. These fonts are normally dated late in the 12thc, c.1170-90. Thurlby suggests, on the basis of comparisons of foliage forms on the Aylesbury, Great Kimble and Weston Turville fonts with sculpture at St Alban’s Abbey dating from the abbacy of Simon (1167-83), and on the resemblance between these fonts and liturgical chalices, that the sculptors were copying St Albans metalwork, perhaps of the kind produced by one Master Baldwin according to an account by Matthew Paris. He suggests that the red paint on this font may be the remains of a ground for gilding. Thurlby also relates the upper decorative band on the Great Kimble font to the 2nd-order of the W doorway of Dunstable priory (Beds), and to a fragment of carved stone from Great Missenden abbey, to which Great Kimble belonged.


C. S. Drake, The Romanesque Fonts of Northern Europe and Scandinavia.London, 2002, 26-27, 175.

N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 350-51.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 1 (south).London 1912, 165-66.

M. Thurlby, “Fluted and Chalice-Shaped: The Aylesbury Group of Fonts”, Country Life, CLXXI, 1982, 228-29.

M. Thurlby, “The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century.” in M. Henig & P. Lindley (ed.), Alban and St Albans. Roman and Medieval Architecture, Art and Archaeology. (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions XXIV). Leeds 2001, 162-75.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. I (1905), 369-76 (on Missenden Abbey).

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. II (1908), 298-303.