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St Mary, Whaddon, Buckinghamshire

(51°59′58″N, 0°49′43″W)
SP 805 341
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
06 September 2014

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Whaddon is a village in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire, sited in the medieval hunting forest of Whaddon Chase. The village is less than a mile outside the boundary of the Milton Keynes Unitary Authority, on the W side and is clustered around a staggered crossroads of minor roads to the N of the A421 – the main road from Milton Keynes to Buckingham. The church is aat the end of a short lane to the S of the main village street. Its nave has N and S aisles with doorways under porches, and the remains of a rood loft visible at the E end on the S side. Medieval wallpaintings including the murder of St Thomas Becket were discovered in 1854 in the chancel, but have since been obliterated with whitewash. On the N side is a large chapel containing the elaborate Purbeck tomb of Thomas Pigott (d.1519) and his wives Agnes and Elizabeth. The chapel communicates with the N aisle. The W tower is of early 14thc date with an embattled parapet. 12thc sculpture is found on the capitals of both nave arcades and a loose fragment of a nook-shaft.


Whaddon was held by Edward Cild, a thegn of King Edward, in 1066, and by Walter Giffard in 1086. It was assessed at 10 hides, 5 of which were in demesne. The manor also included meadow for 10 ploughs and woodland for 100 pigs.

The manor was attached to the honour of Giffard, and reverted to the crown at the death without issue of Walter Giffard, 2nd Earl of Buckingham, the son of the Domesday holder in 1164. Before 1175 the king granted the tenancy to Richard de Humetis, Constable of Normandy. Richard died c.1179 and the manor (and the office of Constable) passed to his son William, but he forfeited Whaddon on account of his rebelliousness, and King John gave it to Peter de Stoke in or before 1205. This grant was short-lived, and by 1207 it had passed to Anselm de Morvil and then to William Daubeney, Earl of Arundel. It only remained in this line until 1240, when Hugh Daubeney, the 8th earl, was forced to surrender it to King Henry III.

The church was granted by the Domesday landholder to the Priory of St Faith at Longueville in Normandy. During the French wars the church was retained by the cell at Newton Longville, but in 1441 this alien priory was granted with all its possessions to New College, Oxford.


Interior Features



Loose Sculpture


The arcade sculpture places this work at the end of the 12thc, certainly after 1170 and probably c.1180-90. Pevsner (1960) dated the N arcade slightly earlier than the S on account of the stylistically later octagonal S imposts, although he recognised too that the trumpet scallop capital in the S arcade was stylistically earlier rather than later. He described the birds on pier 2 of the N arcade as peacocks pecking at the same morsel, which is reasonable enough (while attributing the motif to a non-existent NW respond capital). Pevsner and Williamson (1994) add little except that the peacocks are now quarrelling over the morsel. RCHME (1913) describes the N arcade as late-12thc and the S as c.1200.

Locally comparisons may be made with the N arcade capitals at Newton Longville itself, and with work by the same sculptors at Lathbury and Old Linslade.


English Heritage Listed Building 401716.

N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 291-92.

N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 745.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north). London 1913, 318-22.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 435-42.