St Nicholas


  • 1 Dunthrop Road
  • Heythrop
  • OX7 5TL


  • Toilets: none

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Brief Description

St Nicholas was totally rebuilt in the 1870’s, using local stone, by Albert Brassey, who owned Heythrop Park. It is typical of the Victorian gothic style and is in good condition. This church replaced a Norman church, the chancel of which still exists, to the south east in a hidden walled Churchyard, which is opened once a year for a summer ‘Songs of Praise’ service. The old church has a striking west doorway from around 1170.

  • Main Description

    Built 1880 by A.W. Blomfield for Albert Brassey, probably incorporating some early-C19 work. Coursed squared rock-faced limestone with ashlar dressings; plain-tile roofs.

    Chancel, north vestry, south organ chamber, nave, south aisle and south-west tower/porch. Decorated-Gothic style. Chancel, with high moulded plinth and stepped angle buttresses, has a 3-light traceried east window carried down to 3 ornamented panels, and has 2-light side windows. Southern projection has 2 traceried lancets to east and, to south, a pair of lancets under a traceried spherical triangle; northern projection has a 3-light square-headed window below a rose window, and has an angle turret.

    Low lean-to south aisle has 3 groups of cusped lancets set in triple arcades; north side of nave has tall traceried windows of one and 2 lights, and to west is 4-light traceried window.

    4-stage tower, with plinth, diagonal buttresses, and a tall pierced parapet with panelled and crocketed angle pinnacles, has a richly-moulded C13-style south doorway below a shallow gable, 2-light traceried windows at the second stage, pairs of small lancets at the third stage, and large 3-light traceried openings to the bell chamber.

    Interior: chancel has traceried blind arcading flanking the east window, and the windows all have moulded rere-arches, hoods and jamb shafts; a mosaic reredos depicts the Last Supper. Richly-moulded arches open north and south, the latter springing from head corbels. Similar chancel arch springs from tapering corbels supporting clustered shafts. 3-bay arcade of 2 chamfered orders has quatrefoil columns with moulded capitals, and has double-shafted responds on foliage corbels. Similar corbels support detached shafts from which rise the wall posts of the elaborate arch-braced collar-truss nave roof, and also bear angels holding shields. Chancel roof has heavy cusping to the trusses. Octagonal porch has a fine ribbed stone vault, springing from full-height shafts, with foliage bosses and capitals. Some of the lower stonework is said to have come from the former Roman Catholic church near Heythrop Park erected 1826 for the Earls of Shrewsbury. (Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: p646; VCH: Oxfordshire: Vol XI, p142)

    Chancel of old church, now cemetery chapel. C12 and C15, altered C19. Limestone rubble with ashlar dressings; Stonesfield-slate roof. 2-bay chancel. 4-centre-arched C15 east window has Perpendicular drop tracery. Square-headed windows of 2 and 3 lights facing south are also C15 and have cusped lights, deep casement mouldings and square-stopped labels; between them is a blocked round-headed lancet above which is a relief of the Agnus Dei, and the south-west buttress also has a re-set early relief of 2 figures holding crooks. North wall has a small blocked round-headed window below a small square blocking. West wall incorporates the C12 chancel arch, with a band of alternating cable mould, flanked by pairs of round-headed niches, each with roll-moulded arch and jamb shafts; set into the chancel arch is the C12 former south doorway, with an elaborate arch of 5 ornamented orders, the jambs including 2 pairs of detached shafts with waterleaf capitals. Interior: fine trefoil-headed C13 piscina has a moulded surround, a stone credence shelf and a carving of a bunch of grapes at the rear. Cinquefoil-headed recess and a blocked round-headed doorway to north. Butt-purlin roof is probably C17/C18 but has re-used rafters. Elaborate panelled chest tomb to south of sanctuary has a Purbeck-marble cover with brasses commemorating John Ashfield (d.1521) and his wife Elenor, and forms part of a larger monument with the window above, in which they are also shown with their children in stained glass. Monuments also include a large coloured-marble wall memorial to George Talbot, 15th Earl of Shrewsbury (d.1787) by J.F. Moore, with an oval relief below an achievment of arms; and a white marble monument commemorating Mary, the mother of the 15th Earl. The east window also includes medieval stained glass. Small stone font on a panelled stem may be C17. (Buildings of England: Oxforeshire: pp696-7; VCH: Oxfordshire: Vol XI, pp141-2)