Sunday, 1 December 2019

St Michael Stanton Harcourt

Though this was my second church to visit it is one that had been on my list for a long time and I was looking forward to seeing the inside.
"The earliest known record of the Church of England parish church of Saint Michael dates from 1135, and the Norman nave and lower parts of the bell tower are certainly 12th century. In the 13th century the chancel, chancel arch and tower arches were rebuilt and the transepts and stair turret were added. In the 15th century the upper part of the belltower was completed, the Perpendicular Gothic west window of the nave and north and south windows of the transepts were inserted and the pitch of the roof was lowered. The Harcourt chapel was added on the south side of the chancel, possibly by William Orchard.
In the chancel is the Decorated Gothic late 13th- or early 14th-century shrine of St Edburg of Bicester. It was at the Augustinian priory at Bicester until 1536, when the priory was dissolved. Sir James Harcourt had the shrine salvaged and moved to St Michael's.
St Michael's is a Grade I listed building.
The central tower has a ring of six bells. Michael Darbie, an itinerant bellfounder, cast the second, third, fourth and fifth bells in 1656, which was during the Commonwealth of England. Richard Keene of Woodstock cast the tenor bell in 1686. Abraham II Rudhall of Gloucester cast the treble bell in 1722.
St Michael's parish is part of the Benefice of Lower Windrush, along with the parishes of Northmoor, Standlake and Yelford."
I suggest you get a coffee and cake for this blog as it is quite long with quite a bit of detail

You walk out of the carpark and into the churchyard to see the church at the end of the path, on the left is a preaching cross

Over to the right you see the Popes Tower in the grounds of the Manor

Above the Pope tower built around 1470–71 and gained it's name after poet Alexander Pope stayed here in 1717–18 and used its upper room to translate the fifth volume of Homer's Iliad.

Left the North side of the church with  blocked up door to East

Heading around to the
West end and Look along the South side to the Transept

The South side looking across the churchyard

The South Transept stands

out and has a blocked off chapel door on the West end

From here you get a good view of the Pope tower and Harcourt  House

As you walk around the East end you see the Harcourt Chapel

it is attached to the side of the chancel.
Right the East end

Finally we go back to the North side and go in the porch to visit the church

As you walk in the church and look down the nave you see a plain looking nave
An altar stands in the centre of the crossing

beyond a rood screen partitions off the chancel

Above a real treasure in the church, a pre 13th century rood screen dated 1260 the holes in are squints allowing people to see through

The altar is covered and had simple wooden cross and candel holders
On the North wall is an effigy is a niche of Maud de Grey, the paint on the wall  is 14th century

Maud laying in repose

Below the tomb with paint on the coats of arms.
Right the shrine of St Edburg dateing back to the 13th century

The top part of the shrine id Perbeck marble, the limestone base is a later addition

Just in front of the effigy you can see this tomb with brass showing a lady and here tow children, not good on reading the inscription but I think it says pray for the soul of Glen Famby who was the wife of John

There is little stained glass in the church but you can see a little medieval glass in a few of the windows

There are also quite a few tombs around in the chancel some partly hidden by the pews

others on display prominently, some family paid handsomely of their place here

There are also some very nice memorials on the walls and a gate leading to the Harcourt Chapel

The two prominent memorials are from some wealthy people of the time

Near the tomb effigy is this small plaque and over on the South side is this remnant of arch from the former Church still painted in the Medieval colours

On the North side a couple of Church Chests

One looks older that the other and there was no date on them

In the crossing by the chancel arch is the pulpit and a statue of St Michael

The pulpit looks to be the wine glass type on a slender stand

from it you look through the crossing to the nave and the South transept

The North transept has the organ in it and has been made into a vestry which was locked so I could not see if there were many memorials or altar in there

The South transept holds the most interest as this is where you will see the Harcourt Memorials. On ether left as you walk in a saute to
Field Marshall Earl Harcourt

One the right a statue to Sir Vernon Harcourt

You will also see this family tomb chest
The memorial on the East wall is the thing that really stands out for me

The inscription shows 1688 and I cannot find much on the person, he is dressed in Armour from the time and his wife does like to show from the look, both hold skulls

Above them is the coats of arms and a couple of cherubs

Above the Harourt chapel, this is gated off and locked so all the photos were taken with the zoom. Looking down on the left you see a tomb effigy of Robert Harcourt who was standard bearer at the battle of Bosworth. The tattered remnants hang above

on the right is Sir Robert Harcourt with is wife Margret beside him

To the East end the alter

Left looking through the gate gives you a better view of the effigies nearby

I am really amazed at the colours that you can still see on them

At the back after putting mu I phone through the gate I managed to get a photo of
George Simon Harcourt

This I think is Edward Venables Vernon Harcourt
who was an archbishop

Looking across the tow tomb effigies at the east end. The near one Robert looks to have had a nose job, maybe this is why people are not allowed in the chapel because of it being broken, though I'm sure some one could have made  better job of restoring it

Above the tombs of  George Simon Harcourt and   Edward Venables Vernon Harcourt

The font is 15th century restored in the 19th

In the nave on the South wall you can see the Roll of Honour
and a plaque to the memory of Thomas Cox

The roll is hand written and is one of the nicer ones I have seen

There is a bequest on the wall you can read and at the back of the church what I take as a plaque of arms of sorts but what ever was on it has now gone leaving indents were they were pinned to the plaque

You see a lot of George IV coats of arms in churches this one the lion looks rather fierce

Last look down the church and it is outside passing this headstop looking out

The churchyard is full of headstones and  the off cast marker

Above my favourite one, the inscription long gone but the headstone looks to be from the 1700's
Left more headstones slowly sinking

Looking further East

On the West end of the church you can see quite a few tomb chests

while going around the North side you find the area left to grow wild like in keeping with most Churches now

the whole North churchyard is covered in older headstones

all in various states of condition

I liked this one because of the name Nithanial, he died in 1865 aged 85 RIP

The churchyard looks like one you could spend time in

With it's tomb chests

and churchyard to explore

On the way out I pass this fenced off vault under a yew
I would like to return here to look around some more, it is one of the more interesting churches to see in Oxfordshire but most I would really like to see the tomb effigies again
Till next time have a happy Thanksgiving to my followers in the US


  1. Oh my gosh Bill, the church of St Michael has so much history attached it's incredible for someone who lives in a relatively new civilization to comprehend! Your photos as always are so beautifully detailed I feel as if I've just had a personal tour, merci beaucoup 💜

  2. This is very obviously a church worth visiting - what a lot there is to see. I am often surprised and amazed just HOW much there often is in unexceptional looking churches. Some wonderful monuments, in particular. I always like headstones with cherubs. It's good to know they're letting the grass grow, etc. This land is so very good for wildlife now that farms are kept so neat and tidy, often with the use of pesticides.

  3. It looks very strong! The interior is beautiful.

  4. I can understand why you hope to return as there's so much to see and appreciate. The church is full of historical features,for example, the effigies still with paint detail. I hope your week is going well Bill.

  5. Hello Billy!
    This church is one of the most valuable religious monuments.
    As always wonderfully presented. Billy, thank you so much for seeing him. Pictures as always excellent and showing various architectural details.
    Hugs and greetings from Poland.

  6. Those effigies are quite something. Maud is my favourite. Another very interesting church. Thanks, Billy.


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