CHURCH

St Matthews Church

The Church is an amazing example of the Saxon traditions with the oldest parts being the bell tower and the nave, showing the highest quality of work undertaken by Saxon masons leaving the most important Saxon remains in Oxfordshire. Later additions in the 12th, 13th and 15th Centuries make it the magnificent Church that you see today. Taken as a whole the architecture & historic interest of St Matthews Church make it one of the most fascinating pre-Norman churches in the entire country, and an exceptional Grade I listed building. The church building is usually open during daylight hours.

St Matthew’s, Langford is a beautiful and ancient church, and perhaps the most important church in Oxfordshire.

With its idyllic setting St Matthew’s has played a central role in the village through the centuries, and today still features strongly in both its social and spiritual life.

There are two church services every month – an all age Morning Serv ice at 10.30 on the 2nd Sunday, a 9am Communion on the 4th Sunday, and of course the Festival services at Easter, Harvest and Christmas.

St Matthew’s Langford is now part of the Broadshires benefice, which includes 12 churches in all.

Benefice Clergy:

Website: www.12churches.org.uk

Rev’d Harry McInnes (Rector)
01993 845954 e-mail: harrymacinnes@yahoo.co.uk

Church Wardens:
Mrs Anne Hichens
Mrs Denise Kemp, denise@kempsyard.uk 01367860176

A list of services can be obtained from the current issue of the benefice newsletter – The Parish Pump – or from the Diary pages within this website.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST MATTHEW’S 

Aelfsige of Farringdon built the current building around 1080, although there is a possibility that there was a church prior to that date based on the two extraordinary carvings, which are still on the church today.

On the east wall of the south porch is a figure of Christ in Majesty possibly 8th century, known as the Langford Rood, and thought to be unique throughout England. The Rood, carved in limestone, has lost its head, which would not have fit into the niche in which it is now placed anyway.

Above the entry to the south porch is a crucifixion scene with Christ on the cross flanked by Mary and St John, believed to date from 1020-1040 and again you can see that it has been reused. The alterations were presumably made to fit the carving into the niche that it now occupies. The figures of Mary and St John have also been transposed; they are looking away from Christ. Traditionally Mary is on the right and St John is on the left, so it is assumed that the uneducated masons were left with the task of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle and got it wrong.

The Church is an amazing example of the Saxon traditions with the oldest parts being the bell tower and the nave, showing the highest quality of work undertaken by Saxon masons leaving the most important Saxon remains in Oxfordshire.

During the 1200’s the north and south aisles were added, with the south porch completed in the 13th century. Although at one time the porch had two storeys, the upper storey has since been removed, but its blocked doorway and the outline of the stairs are still visible inside the south aisle. The west walls of the nave and two aisles have a 13th century lancet window.

In the 13th century the chancel was rebuilt wider and taller. The line of the former 11th century Saxon roof against the east wall of the tower can be seen at the west end of the chancel. Suggestions that this was a rich parish at this time are due to the highly unusual features of the chancel windows and the elaborate aumbry in the north wall with six compartments under three gables.

Later additions include the 15th century font; two flying buttresses with one having an inscription dated in the reign of Elizabeth I of 1574; the pulpit is Jacobean made in 1673 with parish records stating that Thomas Whiting was paid £8.00 to create it; and a mechanical clock was installed in 1680 (now a static exhibit in the south aisle).

Beneath the altar are the memorial brasses of the Prunes, Walter & Mary. He died in 1594 and she in 1607, the detail of these brasses is exceptional and shows the style of dress worn by nobles in the Elizabethan period.

Further restoration and conservation work was carried out by:
• The architect and builder Richard Pace in 1829. 
• The Ecclesiastical Commissioner’s surveyor Benjamin Ferrey in 1848. 
• The Gothic Revival architect Ewan Christian in 1864.

Taken as a whole the architecture & historic interest of St Matthews Church make it one of the most fascinating pre-Norman churches in the entire country, and an exceptional Grade I listed building.

After the Norman Conquest……

Until the Black Death is 1347 the village was sited all around the church. Since then the village has spread further leaving St Matthew’s in the more situation it has today. Eleanor Parker was inspired by a visit to the village church in Oxfordshire that bears witness to one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in English history.

Click below to read an article from History Today…

After the Norman Conquest _ History Today

The Bells of St. Matthews

No one knows of the exact arrangement before the mid 18th century however it is presumed that the bells have sounded out from this tower for many centuries perhaps dating back to the 11th century.

The tower held 5 bells on an Oak wooden frame which were believed to have been timbers salvaged from a ship. The roof of the ringing chamber is supported by ships timbers and oak beams which show evidence of having been cut for some previous purpose. Sydney Reading of rectory Farm was Chairman of the Parish Council from 1921-48 and Church Warden until his death in 1949, an event which seems to have prompted some action to repair the ailing bells and their frame and in 1953 a steel frame was created with the addition of a new treble bell.

There are now six bells in the tower, four were cast in 1741 by Henry Bagley who at the time had a foundry in Witney.

The tenor (6) and treble (1) were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1953.

Bell Weight Note Diameter cwt;qtrs,lbs

1 (treble) 3-3-17 F# 26.00”
2 4-3-8 E 27.63”
3 4-3-16 D 28.50”
4 5-1-7 C# 29.50”
5 6-3-0 B 32.50”
6 (tenor) 8-2-25 A 36.00”

Bell Inscription

Treble Stephen Trinder Loveden Boucher (now 2nd): Church Wardens H B 1741

Second Stephen Trinder Loveden Boucher: Church Wardens HB 1741

Third Stephen Trinder Loveden Boucher CW H Bagley Made Mee (scroll) 1741

Fourth Unto the Lord Lift up yovr (scroll) and in his name let us rejoice (scroll) H B 1741

Tenor Stephen Trinder Loveden Boucher: Church Wardens H B 1741

In 1953 the tenor was recast and the old treble became the second and a new treble was added.

Treble Forget all his benefits, in memory of Sydney Reading 1879-1949 Church Warden for 30 years.

The ropes have been renewed several times:

In April 1997 Mrs R Range donated 6 new ropes in memory of her father Henry G Gale and the Church paid for a new set of ropes which were first rung on 24 December 2010.