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St Andrew, Headington, Oxfordshire

(51°45′55″N, 1°12′47″W)
SP 544 077
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Lincoln
now Oxford
medieval St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Jane Cunningham
  • Janet Newson
13 June 2014

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Feature Sets

The old village of Headington has been engulfed from the SW and is now a suburb lying within the Oxford City boundary. The earliest stone church probably existed here by the early 12thc, and consisted of a two-cell nave and chancel. The present chancel arch was built in the mid 12thc. A century later the church was enlarged by the addition of a S aisle. The ground stage of the S tower and the pointed arch that now encloses the 12thc chancel arch were also built at that time. The chancel itself was rebuilt c.1400. There was a major restoration by J.C. Buckler in 1864. The round-headed decorated chancel arch is now the only surviving Romanesque feature.


Headington manor was part of the Saxon royal demesne and remained in the King's hands after the Conquest. The earliest known mention of the village is in a deed of King Ethelred, dated St Andrewstide (7 December) 1004. It was a seat of royalty during the reigns of the later Saxon kings. Henry I was perhaps the last king to reside in the parish, but it fell into disuse when Woodstock's hunting lodge became his favourite. In his daughter's time, the manor became alienated from the crown. It was granted to Hugh de Pluggenait by 1142, when Oxford fell into Stephen's hands.

The first mention of St Andrew's church is in a charter of 1122, by which Henry I granted it to the canons of St Frideswide. Hugh de Pluggenait was a generous benefactor of St Frideswide's, particularly after one of his relatives was claimed to have been miraculously healed at her shrine.

Headington, Marston, Elsfield and Binsey hamlet formed a peculiar, the rights of which were confirmed to the canons by a number of bishops and popes.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

The arrangement of the chancel arch leaves some unanswered questions. Was a pointed arch intended, and then the Romanesque one was reinstated, possibly lacking an inner order? As the soffit is so plain, and the inner edges of the chevron are so roughly cut, unlike the tidy finished edge of the third order, it is possible that originally there was at least one more order. The disorder of the impost stones in particular would be explained by this.


J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 336.

A History of the County of Oxford, Vol. 5: Bullingdon Hundred, Victoria County History, London 1957, 157-168.