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St Martin, Dunton, Buckinghamshire

(51°54′43″N, 0°48′12″W)
SP 824 244
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
medieval St Martin
now St Martin
  • Ron Baxter
04 August 2006, 22 January 2019

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Dunton is a small village on a hill in the Vale of Aylesbury, in the Domesday hundred of Mursley, situated 6 miles N of Aylesbury in the heart of the county. The village consists of a few houses along a minor road in rolling mixed farmland. The church is in the village centre, with Dunton Manor, a timber-framed brick-faced house parts of which date from the 16thc, immediately to the N.

St Martin’s consists of nave, chancel and W tower. The chancel is 12thc in origin, but was rebuilt in the 13thc (see the plain pointed S lancet and similar low side windows on both sides). The triple lancet E window is a 19thc replacement. The chancel walls are rendered and painted yellow. The nave has a 12thc N doorway, now blocked, and the remains of a later medieval N window arch, but the S wall was rebuilt and the N windows replaced c.1790 with standard wide, round-headed brick windows. The N wall is of rubble painted yellow, and the NE angle of the nave has been rebuilt in brick. The S nave wall was rebuilt in large, roughly squared blocks, incorporating some Romanesque carved stones. It is not painted, and has a simple 18thc porch that is rendered and painted yellow. The plain 15thc tower is of large blocks like the S wall of the nave, with unusual thin clasping buttresses at the angles. It was given a brick parapet in the 18thc. Inside the nave has plain 18thc box pews and an 18thc W gallery. The chancel arch has 12thc responds but was given a new arch after 1300. The wall piscina in the S chancel wall is 12thc, as is the old font now relegated to the vestry under the W tower.


Dunton was held by Turstin de Gironde from the Bishop of Bayeux in 1086. It was then assessed at 10 hides with meadow for 8 ploughs. Before the Conquest it was held by Earl Leofwine. The manor passed to Turstin’s assumed descendant, Hamo de Gerunde and his son Hugh, who held it in 1194 and 1197. Hamo’s son Philip was recorded as the landholder in 1198, but forfeited Dunton in 1216 when he was imprisoned for rebellion. The Gerundes were back in possession by 1221, and Dunton remained in the family until it passed by marriage of a female heir to the descendants of Henry de Chalfont in the early 14thc. In 1425 it was held by Edmund Hampden and it was in the Hampden family the 18thc, when Richard Hampden lost everything in the South Sea Bubble. The advowson of the church appertained to the manor, at least from the reign of Edward I.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The narrative panel on the N doorway lintel may well show the Noli me tangere, an episode from John, 20, 17 when Mary Magdalene encounters Christ after his Resurrection. In this reading the figure on the left can only be one of the angels guarding the empty tomb, and the amorphous shape above, two further angels. This identification is no longer clear, but RCHME described this shape as angels and clouds. The figure style and irregular chevron arch point to a date in the 1st half of the 12thc.

The font has no features diagnostic of date, but is assumed to be 12thc on the basis of its form and dimensions. The same may be said of the piscina. The surviving ornament on the chancel arch, the N capital necking and the S impost face, provide some help in dating, as there are similarities with the S doorway of Dinton church, here dated to c.1140. The upper parts of the chancel arch appear stylistically to date to the years around 1300, although RCHME offers a rather puzzling date of the 2nd half of the 15thc for the rebuilding of the arch.


N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, London1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 291.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham, Volume 2 (north). London1913, 101-02.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 348-50.