Saturday, 17 July 2021

St Mary the Virgin Charlton on Otmoor


 St Mary was the first of the churches I was to visit on this occasion and after stopping off to park I quickly wandered around the church. The door was locked so I really was not expecting to go in but as I was around by the east end I hear someone call. After looking around for a moment to see where the voice was coming from I say someone hanging out the window of the house opposite asking if I had found what I wanted. My first reaction was to say yes, the person then said he thought I was looking for some one in particular and introduced himself as the churchwarden. We you know what I asked next and to my surprise he walked around to the church and let me in. I'll full in the rest in the blog. The church is mentioned in Britons 1000 best churches

"Charlton had a parish church by the 11th century. The present Church of England parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin was a 13th-century Early English Gothic building but there were substantial Decorated Gothic alterations in the 14th century. The east window is slightly later, in the transitional style from Decorated to Perpendicular Gothic. Around the beginning of the 16th century the clerestory and a new roof were added to the nave, and a new window was added to the south aisle.

 In the early 16th century the present rood screen and rood loft (for a crucifix between the chancel and nave) were added to the church. During the English Reformation Edward VI's injunctions of 1547 instructed that rood screens and lofts be removed from all churches in England and Wales. Charlton's screen and loft survived these injunctions, and in the 20th century the critic Jennifer Sherwood judged them "the finest and most complete in the county".

A tradition of garlanding the rood cross with flowers and box greenery on May Day and carrying it in procession around the parish also survived the Reformation and continues in modern times. In recent years, due to pressure on the school administration, it is usually impossible to hold the May Garland Service on May Day so it is held either in late April or later in May."


In 1846 the Gothic Revival architect GE Street re-roofed the church and restored the north wall. In 1889 the rood screen and loft were restored. St Mary's has never been over-restored, and its Decorated and Perpendicular mediaeval character has survived almost intact.

By 1553 the bell tower had five bells plus a Sanctus bell, but all have since been recast or replaced. Richard Keene, whose foundries included one at Woodstock, cast the two largest bells in 1681. Thomas Lester of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast another bell in 1746 and Matthew II Bagley of Chacombe, Northamptonshire cast another in 1755. The then treble bell broke in 1789 but John Warner and Sons of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry recast it that same year. In the 19th century the Bagley bell survived for a long time with a fracture, but in 1895 its tongue and head fell out. Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry replaced or recast the broken bell in 1898. In 1998 the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast a new treble bell, making the 1789 bell the second bell and increasing the tower to a ring of six bells. In 1999 the new bell was hung and the old bells re-hung as a project for the village to celebrate the Millennium. John Warner and Sons cast the present Sanctus bell in 1793.

St Mary's church clock is of unknown date but appears to be late 17th century. Two of the wheels of the going train are characteristic of the work of the clockmaker and bellfounder Edward Hemins of Bicester, which would make them an early-18th-century alteration.

St Mary's is now part of the Church of England Benefice of the Ray Valley."   

Before you star be warned  you might want a coffee and cake as the blog is quite long

 The church stands just off the road through the village

 You more or less walk into the porch from the entry gate

Turning left towards the west end and you are in the churchyard

 Where you cannot help notice this preaching cross

 The end of the south aisle and porch

The west end bell tower

The north side of St Mary the Virgin

On my way back to the porch after speaking to the churchwarden

These few were taken when I had finished insice, the belltower & cock

One of the gargoyles on the corner of the church

Some old wall memorials near the end of the south aisle

Interesting selection of headstones

Here we look down the north side

Some recent headstones can be see, the white one in particular stood out for me

Looking back west up the churchyard

Most of these are more modern burial. Just after taking this and walking back across the east end I heard some one calling to me 

Another view of the north side looking east

Two older headstones you find on the east end of the church

Path leading to the priest door in the chancel

As you go through the porch door you find this one that opens up in the church

In the porch a beautiful stained glass window

First view and the organ is what caught my eye

The south aisle

I loved this view down the church to the rood screen

The 16th century rood screen with cross. I noticed it was green and turned out to be box. It is usually replaced twice a year but with the present crises has been there longer

Inside the chancel looking at the altar

The tracery on the altar rail is superb

The altar with painted screen in the background

I did like the simplicity of the altar

I thought the screen behind even more simple

Sidilia & Piscina

On either end are painted headstops

The sidilia which is a holy water stupe

I noticed this carving of the last supper on the shelf inside

Looking back from behind the altar

From outside the rood screen

Partitioned off for the bell ringers

The pulpit looks Jacobean  with its stem

Looking out from it show a beautiful view of the nave and south aisle

The lectern on the opposite side to the pulpit

detail of part of the stunning rood screen

The font with it's cover, could not say the age but is of quite a common type from the area

The top of the cover

Earlier I mentioned the organ, well it turns out the church warden is also an organ tuner and built the organ and on top of the played a few bars for me so I could hear how it sounded a privilege and it was wonderful

Looking over form the south aisle

The north door is blocked off and the alcove is used for the village roll of honour

The list of the fallen must have made sad reading when it first was put up, the names are all common to the area I recognise many of those family names

A commemorative plaque

Memorial to the prior family

The Westcar memorial

This beautiful old memorial to Katherina Lamplugh is dated 1632

Stained glass panels

The sunlight shins through the window

Nearly complete church brass

You can just make of the coat of arms and family name on this tomb

The floor tiles by the altar looks like that are from the middle ages

Floor tomb along on  of the aisles

A picture bible on one of the windowsills

Madonna & child in a sidilia along the south aisle

Looking over to the south aisle

A prayer tree beside the priests chair

The bible on the altar with the roodscreen  in the background
My thanks to the Churchwarden for letting me see the church.
Till next time may I wish you a peaceful weekend.
Remember in your thoughts and prayers those who have died and been affected by the floods in Europe this week


  1. What a beautiful church! So many marvelous details.

  2. That church warden sounds so friendly and alert to welcome people. I like the stained glass of the knight, and reading the memorial plaques makes me wonder about the people. One said that the man served in India and spent his happiest days at or near the church. I mentioned your blog in a post recently, about the Winston Churchill burial place.

    1. Most Church Wardens are, though I did come across one who was the most unhelpful person I came across. You come across a lot of interesting memorials in churches. Thanks for the mention

  3. That is a good sized church with a large graveyard. I love all the details you found especially that carved Last Supper. Very nice.

  4. I am delighted with the architecture of the Marian church. As always, you present a lot of very interesting details from inside the church. I am charmed by the Last Supper and decorative Gothic windows.
    Greetings, Billy:)

  5. Great collection of photos here.

  6. Painted faces seem a bit strange. Great post!

  7. A thorough look at this beautiful place.

  8. Lovely church. The book on the altar, howeveer, ia an Altar Service book and not a bible. It contains the order of service and readings for Holy Communion, etc.


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