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St Edward the Confessor, Westcote Barton, Oxfordshire

(51°55′41″N, 1°22′33″W)
Westcote Barton
SP 430 257
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Oxfordshire
now Oxfordshire
  • Janet Newson
20 June 2011

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The Bartons constitute a group of villages in NE Oxfordshire between Chipping Norton and Bicester. The present church comprises a chancel, nave with S aisle, S porch and a W tower. Recent excavations reveal that an earlier nave was twice extended westwards before the S aisle was added in the mid-C12th. Later in the C12th the chancel was rebuilt. The first documentary evidence of 1180 implies that the church had been in existence for some time. There is now little Romanesque evidence externally as the church was enlarged and remodelled in the late C15th. It was restored by G.E. Street in 1855-6. Internally, the nave and S aisle show their Romanesque plan with two round-headed arcades with a single round pier. The Transitional chancel arch was restored by Street, who re-used the imposts. The S aisle probably formed a major part of the original church, and in its S wall is a Romanesque tomb recess with a decorated facing.


There is no mention of the church in the DB. However, excavations under the nave floor, carried out in 1977 by the Oxford Archaeological Unit, revealed evidence of the Anglo-Saxon church (Chambers, 1979). Its original dedication to St Edmund of East Anglia would support a C10th or early C11th foundation (VCH). This church had a smaller rectangular nave, although the chancel arch is still in its original position. The S wall of the nave would have provided the foundations for the mid-C12th nave arcades to the S aisle.

The church was given to Eynsham Abbey by Alexander of Barton between 1180 and 1189, and they retained it until the Dissolution. Until 1932 the parish was intermixed with the neighbouring one of Steeple Barton, and from 1951 the living was held in plurality with Steeple Barton. They were united in 1960, and in 1977 also with Duns Tew and Sandford St Martin.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches






Several of the decorative motifs in this church are variants of the nailhead or striated pyramid. The chevron pattern of nesting vees that decorates the sloping top of the tomb recess is uncommon, but it occurs on the hood over the chancel arch at Old St Nicholas, Heythrop, only four miles away.


Bartons History Group, Parish Church of St Edward the Confessor, Westcote Barton (post 2000).

R.A. Chambers, 'Excavations in Westcote Barton Parish Church, Oxfordshire', Oxoniensia, 44 (1979), 99-101.

J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Harmondsworth, 1974), 832.

Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, 11 (London, 1983), 79-81.