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All Saints, Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire

(51°43′24″N, 1°7′47″W)
SP 602 031
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Jane Cunningham
  • Janet Newson
02 July, 12 August 2013

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Cuddesdon is 6 miles SE of Oxford. There is good evidence that the original church was built before 1117. It was rebuilt and enlarged c. 1180 on a cruciform plan with a chancel, nave, side aisles, transepts and a central tower. Nave aisles were added in the mid-13thc. In the 14thc. most aisle windows were replaced, and a window in the N wall of the N transept was added. The chancel was rebuilt in the late 14thc or early 15thc, perhaps in 1375-6 when the accounts of Abingdon Abbey include payment for Wheatley stone, available nearby.

The church retains many richly carved late Romanesque features, including the main W doorway, of three orders, with free-standing chevron and dogtooth over the round-headed arch, and a slightly simpler version in the re-used S doorway. There are pilaster buttresses with angle shafts and capitals on the corners of the W end of the original nave. Angle shafts alone also recur on the N transept, which also carries part of a corbel table, continuous with that of the nave. Nave corbels are now interiorised within the S and N aisles, together with round window heads and further pilasters. There is a stair turret at the NW angle of the tower with lancet windows and angle shafts.

In the interior, the main feature is the tower crossing arches, pointed and of two orders. The W arch is richly decorated on its outer face, whereas those of the E, S and N arches are plain with angle rolls. Each arch has two pairs of nook-shafts on inner and outer faces, those on the W half of the crossing all carrying capitals that are individually decorated, whereas those of the E half all carry fluted capitals. Inner faces of all crossing arches are carved with chevron and roll mouldings. The interior W wall of the nave carries a half-roll stringcourse, and there is an opening to the rood loft. There is a plain Romanesque font.


In 956 the land in Cuddesdon and its hamlets, assessed at 20 hides, was granted by Edwy to Earl Aelfhere, who in turn bestowed it on Abingdon Abbey. The advowson of Cuddesdon church was obtained by Abingdon Abbey during the time of Abbot Faritius (1100-17), so a church existed here before or during that time. In 1231 the abbey was given papal permission to appropriate the church for support of their infirmary. It kept Cuddesdon church until the Dissolution, one of the most valuable in the deanery.

Cuddesdon is in the Wheatley benefice, comprising Beckley, Cuddesdon, Forest Hill, Garsington, Holton, Horton-cum-Studley, Horspath, Stanton St John, Tiddington, Waterperry, Waterstock and Wheatley.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Interior Decoration

String courses




In All Saints, Cuddesdon, the tower arches are pointed, yet exhibit a simple style of chevron, while the W doorway combines the round-headed arch with free-standing chevron, a late 12thc development. Do we attribute these differences to the two sets of features being executed by different groups of masons at different dates? As doorways are usually a later part of a building programme, the round-headed arches remain a puzzle.

The four crossing arches appear to survive in their original state. However, G.E. Street, who was responsible for constructing the vault over the crossing, may have crisped up much of the decorative stonework there, as well as on the doorways.


J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 562-3.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 5 (1957), 96-116.