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All Saints, Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire

(51°38′42″N, 1°16′17″W)
Sutton Courtenay
SU 505 943
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Oxfordshire
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
6 May 1990, 10 March 2010

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Sutton Courtenay is a picturesque village in the NE of Berkshire, alongside the river Thames and some 2 miles S of Abingdon. The village is a long one, extending over a series of minor roads that run S from the river towards Didcot. The oldest parts of the village, including the parish church, the manor house and Norman Hall, and the 13thc rectory house, now known as the Abbey, are grouped at the N end, near the river.

The present church has a 13thc. chancel, a 4-bay nave of c.1300 and a 12thc. W tower of two storeys, the first divided by a string course at the level of the apex of the W doorway, to which a Perpendicular third storey was added. Inside the nave, however, the first bay of the S arcade is a pointed arch constructed from a carved semicircular arch of greater span, which Pevsner suggests was the 12thc. chancel arch. The present c.1300 chancel arch is supported on 12thc. responds and capitals.

A S porch was built in the late 15thc., and a Victorian N porch was replaced with a vestry by A W Tinson, the village builder, in 1961.

Enough sculpture remains to indicate a richly carved late 12thc. church, notably the W tower windows and corbel table, the reused arch in the S arcade, the chancel arch capitals and the font.


In 1086 the manor was held by the king in demesne, except for 120 acres (wrongfully) held by Henry of Ferrers and 1 hide held by Alwin the priest from the Abbot of Abingdon. No church is mentioned, but presumably Alwin had one. King Henry II granted the manor to his chamberlain, Henry son of Gerald, who might have exchanged it for Sparsholt. By 1161 land was held here by Reynold de Courtenay, and the manor was granted to him by Henry II sometime between 1175 and 1184. It remained in this line until the 15thc.

The church with its advowson and tithes was given to Abingdon abbey by William II around 1090, a gift confirmed by successive rulers until it was disputed by Hugh de Courtenay in 1278 and again (successfully) in 1290.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches






Arcaded fonts are common in the county, although it is hard to see similarities between them. Other tub-shaped examples may be found at Enborne, Sulhamstead Abbots, Clewer, Spital (with beaded arches but intersecting ones), Tidmarsh, Avington, Englefield, Radley and Purley-on-Thames.


John Fletcher, 'A new history of the church and village available' local newspaper, 1990.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 235-37.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 549-50.

Victoria County History: Berkshire IV (1924), 369-79.