We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Peter, Marsh Baldon, Oxfordshire

(51°41′16″N, 1°11′18″W)
Marsh Baldon
SU 562 991
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval St Peter
now St Peter
  • Nicola Lowe
29 July 2015

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6379.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.

Feature Sets

The church of St Peter is set back from a small lane, SW of Marsh Baldon village green. It has a truncated W tower with an octagonal second stage, presumably intended for a spire. The plan is of a continuous nave and chancel under a plain, tiled roof with S porch and N aisle. The exterior is roughcast except for the tower, which is of dressed stone. The building is essentially of 14thc and 15thc date, with the N aisle added in the 18thc and rebuilt in 1890 by Micklethwaite and Somers Clarke. The only Romanesque feature is the sundial, reset above the S door.


The Domesday Survey of 1086 identifies a productive manor at Baldon, held by Geoffrey of Baldon, tenant of Miles Crispin. No church is recorded until 1163, when mention is made of the ‘chapel on the fee of Peter de la Mare’. Peter was Geoffrey’s grandson. VCH (1957) suggests this chapel may have been pre-conquest, originating on the ten-acre Saxon estate at Baldon held in 1066 by Azur. The current church was either built or substantially rebuilt in 1341 by a later Peter de la Mare and the only evidence of an earlier building is the reset sundial, which VCH says came from the S wall. The church was served by the secular priests of Dorchester and, although never appropriated, remained at least nominally under the Abbey’s jurisdiction throughout the Middle Ages.


Exterior Features



The Marsh Baldon sundial is listed in Green (1928), 513. However, Sherwood and Pevsner (1974), 698, consider it more likely to be Romanesque. Either way, it may indicate the existence of an earlier church on the site. Scratchdials were used throughout the medieval era to mark the canonical hours at which Divine Office was sung. The peg or gnomon projecting from a hole in the centre caused a shadow which traversed the dial during the day, lining up with the incised markings at the time of the principle religious services. The rope decoration which borders the Marsh Baldon sundial is typical of 12thc decoration locally, but the design otherwise resembles a sundial at North Stoke, recorded at that location on the CRSBI website, which may be earlier.


A. R. Green, 'Anglo-Saxon Sundials', The Antiquaries Journal 8 no. 04 (1928), 489-516.

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 698-9.

The Building Conservation Website, Cathedral Communications Ltd (http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/mass-dials/mass-dials.htm)

Victoria County History, A History of the County of Oxford, 5, Bullingdon Hundred, ed. Mary D Lobel, London 1957, 30-47. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol5/pp30-47 [accessed 13 November 2016].