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St Peter and St Paul, Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire

(51°55′20″N, 1°18′33″W)
Steeple Aston
SP 476 251
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Janet Newson
05 July 2011

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Feature Sets

Steeple Aston is situated in north Oxfordshire, 10 miles E of Chipping Norton. The church is built of both limestone and the local ironstone, situated on high ground at the NE end of the village. A church was known to be in existence before 1180, probably consisting of nave and chancel. The present church comprises a chancel with a N chapel, a nave with N and S aisles, a S porch and a W tower. It is now basically C13th, with additions in the C14th and C15th. It acquired the tower by 1220, when 'Steeple' was added to its name. The only remaining Romanesque feature is the font, decorated with a diamond and chevron pattern.


In Steeple Aston an estate of 5 hides was held in 1086 by Odo of Bayeux. On or before his death in 1097 he was succeeded in the overlordship by his former tenant, Adam, son of Hubert de Ruys. Shortly afterwards the estate passed to Eudes the steward, Adam's brother. It escheated to the Crown on Eudes' death in 1120, and was presented by Henry II to his chamberlain Warin Fitzgerald who died c. 1159. He was succeeded by his brother Henry and his nephew Warin, d. 1218.

In 1180, Alan, son of Geoffrey of Aston, promised the advowson of the church to Eynsham Abbey. In 1362 it was granted to Cold Norton Priory.

The church is now in the United Benefice of Steeple Aston with North Aston and Tackley.





The origin of the font remains unknown. The VCH believes it was recut in the later C17th. Sherwood and Pevsner (1974) describe it as being recut with ‘a bizarre pattern of elongated triangles, a kind of abstract expressionism’. However, its decoration of zigzags or chevrons is not without precedent and may indeed be Romanesque. It is reminiscent of a similar font at St Mary's, Glympton, only 5 miles S, that is probably original and of similar dimensions. It also has a narrow band of Vs and crosses around its upper perimeter, and below are two wide registers of fairly even triangles with alternate ones cut deeper, in the same manner as this font.


M. Hayter, An Account of Steeple Aston Church, n.p., 1982 (updated 2003).

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974), 786.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 11 (London, 1983), 39-43.