All Saints


  • Church Lane
  • Spelsbury
  • OX7 3JR


  • Toilets: nearby

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Brief Description

All Saints Church is a Norman foundation. It was mostly rebuilt in the 18th-century. Parts of the nave date from about 1300. The church is noted for its many memorials, mainly to the Lee Dillons of Ditchley. Lord Rochester, the 17th-century poet of Charles II’s Court, is interred here in the crypt and his and a number of other coffin plates are displayed in the baptistery. There is a ring of 6 bells. Spelsbury lies in rolling countryside in north-west Oxfordshire on the edge of the Cotswolds. There is a good view of the Evenlode valley from the churchyard.

  • Main Description

    Church. C11/C12, C13, C14 and C15; tower partly rebuilt 1706, chancel rebuilt 1740, and nave and transepts probably largely rebuilt 1774 for the Earls of Litchfield; restored and chancel re-modelled 1851. Coursed squared limestone with ashlar dressings; part-roughcast limestone rubble; sheet-metal and Stonesfield-slate roofs. Chancel, transepts, nave, north and south aisles, and west tower. Chancel and flanking transepts have steep stone-slate roofs with gable parapets. 3-light C19 Decorated-style east window is set into a wider C18 opening; gable walls of transepts have plain C18 round-headed recesses. Large square-headed 3-light windows with ogee tracery, casement moulds and labels, set into east walls of transepts, are (probably re-used) C15 work, and are matched by the side windows of the 2-bay aisles. Aisles also have further C18 recesses in their west walls. Plain parapets of aisles are repeated on the C15 clerestory which has square-headed 2-light windows. Lead rainwater heads are dated 1774. Roughcast lower part of broad 2-stage tower is probably C11/C12 and has shallow clasping pilaster strips extending to ground level, and central strips, terminating to north and south above vanished transepts or wings and on west side above a round-headed blind arch, partly destroyed by a 3-light C14 window with reticulated tracery. West doorway with complex continuous mouldings is also C14. Rubble upper stage of tower, with projecting ashlar quoins, is probably all of 1706 except the 2-light bell-chamber openings, with Cll/C12 round arches on turned shafts with cushion capitals, which are set into C18 outer arches; crenellated parapet has corner pinnacles.

    Interior: C19 chancel walls have full-height blind arcades containing the Lee tombs, and further arches opening to the transepts. Panelled stone reredos and piscina are probably also C19, as is the chancel arch springing from double shafts on angel corbels. Above the arch is a traceried vesica. 2-bay C13 nave arcades have arches of 2 chamfered orders on circular columns with moulded bases and capitals. Plain pointed C19 arches open eastwards to the transepts. Wide tower arch has C12 responds with square abaci and angle shafts with cushion capitals, but pointed arch of 2 chamfered orders is C13 or C14. Side walls of tower retain the hood moulds of blocked pointed arches. Fittings are all C19. Late-C19 stained glass in east window. A notable series of monuments includes numerous C17 and C18 brass coffin plates to members of the Lee family and to John, Earl of Rochester (d.1680). The chancel tombs include that of Sir Henry Lee (d.1631): a panelled alabaster chest carrying 2 recumbent figures surrounded by kneeling children with an elaborate canopy on black Doric columns carrying a heraldic archievement in a broken pediment; the first Earl and Countess of Litchfield (d.1716 and 1717/8): a white marble tablet flanked by scrolls, skulls and batswings below an achievement of arms; the third Earl (d.1772): a perspective of urns in an oval recess surmounted by an oak tree and cherub, designed by Henry Keene and sculpted by W. Tyler; and the fourth Earl (d.1776): a yellow marble sarcophagus surmounted by cherubs and a red marble urn, sculpted by W. Tyler. In the north transept is a large monument to the 14th Viscount Dillon (d.1865) with an effigy under an elaborate canopy with pierced cusping. The tower was probably formerly at the centre of a cruciform church with narrower arms, or was possibly originally a tower-navel it may survive from a pre-Conquest building. (Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp774-5)

Church Grants


2014/2015 | £1200

Major roof repairs

2019/2020 | £20000