The Church

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......

Eleanor Parker was inspired by a visit to a village church in Oxfordshire that bears witness to one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in English history. Click here to read her article from History Today.

Benefice Clergy:

Website: www.12churches.org.uk

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

Rev'd David Spence (Curate)
01367 860071 email: david.r.spence@gmail.com

The Rev'd Alex Ross
01993 824871 emaill: alexlynne.ross@gmail.com

Rev’d Dr Alister McGrath
01993 701105 e-mail: alister.mcgrath@hmc.ox.ac.uk

Mr Jim Johnston 01367 860081

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.

The Bells of St. Matthews

More about the history of the Bells of St. Matthews here...

Ringing Practice - Every Tuesday between 7.00pm & 8.30pm, come along and have a go, everyone is welcome as we are always looking for new members.

Bell Captain - Andrew Tinson - 01367 860514

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