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St Sampson, Cricklade, Wiltshire

(51°38′24″N, 1°51′30″W)
SU 099 935
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Wiltshire
now Wiltshire
medieval Old Sarum
now Bristol
  • Allan Brodie
  • John Wand
01 May 2004

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The large church of St Sampson lies within the now small town of Cricklade on the River Thames.

A pilaster strip in the S wall of the nave is clear evidence that the nave originated before the Conquest. In the late 12thc. the first parts of the north and south arcades were inserted into the nave. In the late 13thc. further bays were added, and the arches of the whole arcade were built.

Romanesque sculpture is found on the arcades. Other loose sculpture, some of which may be Anglo-Saxon, has been inserted into the S wall and the N porch.


In Domesday Book, St Peter at Westminster holds the church of Cricklade "and has there many burgesses". Cricklade paid 'the third penny' which denoted its urban status (V.C.H., 2011 22). It was a flourishing Anglo-Saxon town during the 10th and 11th centuries, even minting coins during the 10th.


Interior Features



Loose Sculpture


Two affronted beasts in high relief, each on a separate stone, have been inserted high (4.9m) on the south wall of the church. The measurements have been recorded as H. 38c; W. 60 cm; D. 60cm. Pevsner says they are Norman, but they are included in the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture as 'Roman, reshaped in eleventh century (?)'. (Cramp, 2006, 215) Only the upper part of each body survives. Each beast has gaping jaws, a shaggy mane and long clawed feet. They have been compared to a pair of beasts at Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire, but the animals at Cricklade are executed in higher relief and are much less stylised.

The church underwent a restoration in 1864 by Ewan Christian.


F. Arnold-Forster Studies in Church Dedications, London 1899, III, 99

H.M. and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture Vol 1, Cambridge, 1965 182-184

J. and H.M. Taylor, 'An Anglo-Saxon pilaster, St Sampson's church, Cricklade' Wilts Arch and Nat Hist 58 16-17

R. Cramp, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture. South-west England, vol. VII, Oxford, 2006, 215.

Historic England listed building 1023081. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1023081 accessed 14 April 2016.

N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, Buildings of England. Wiltshire, Harmondsworth, 1975 (repr. 1985), 199-200.

VCH, Wiltshire, vol. XVIII, 2011, 13-70.