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

St Nicholas, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire

(51°32′5″N, 0°57′16″W)
Rotherfield Greys
SU 726 823
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
formerly Holy Trinity
medieval St Mary
now St Nicholas
  • Nicola Lowe
11 August 2014

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=8877.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


The parish of Rotherfield Greys lies in the extreme SE of Oxfordshire at the southern end of the Chiltern Hills, approx. 2 miles W of Henley and 1 mile S of Greys Court (National Trust), the historic site of the C12th manor house. The church is late-Romanesque in origin although comprehensively rebuilt in 1865 by W. Woodman, and little of the medieval fabric remains. It consists of chancel, nave with timber-framed bell tower rising from W nave ridge, gabled north porch, and a striking early C17th memorial chapel, projecting from N chancel wall. The exterior is part rendered, part flint, with stone dressings and tiled roofs. Romanesque stonework remains in a blocked doorway in the N nave wall and carved square font.


Rotherfield Greys was a five-acre estate belonging to the royal manor of Benson in the late Anglo-Saxon era but detached from it before the Conquest. (See also Harpsden, Oxon and Rotherfield Peppard, Oxon). At Domesday, the estate was held by Anketil de Greys. Its significance lay in its proximity to the Thames and to the road to London. There was a substantial settlement here from the C11-15th with largely resident landlords of high status. Note the C12th tower still standing at Greys Court. The founder of the church is traditionally held to be Anketin's descendant, Walter de Grey, archbishop of York, who retained a lifetime interest in the property and held the earliest recorded advowson. He visited the parish several times between 1215 and 1256. There is no documentary evidence of a church on the site before 1215 although late C12th pottery sherds excavated in the graveyard suggest earlier activity.


Exterior Features




It is likely that there was a family chapel at Greys Court which may have performed some parochial functions before the construction of the parish church. Later, the de Greys family used the parish church for burials. Archaeological excavations on the site of St Nicholas have uncovered late C12th pottery in shallow medieval graves. This could indicate that the site was already in use as a burial ground before the construction of the present church.


S. Anthony, St Nicholas Church, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire (Thames Valley Archaeological Services, 2003).

F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England's Patron Saints (London, 1899).

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974), pp. 734-737.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 16 (London, 2011), pp. 270-302.