St Nicholas

    Address

  • Church Street
  • Idbury
  • OX7 6RU

Street Parking

Yes

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Brief Description

The church was built in the twelfth century, and every generation since has made their contribution to its upkeep and development. It is built of durable yellowish oolite and roofed with old grey stone slates, with the exception of the flat roof of the nave, once leaded but now covered with Welsh slates. The windows retain their old leaded glazing and iron stanchion bars.

  • Main Description

    The church was built in the twelfth century, and every generation since has made their contribution to its upkeep and development. It is built of durable yellowish oolite and roofed with old grey stone slates, with the exception of the flat roof of the nave, once leaded but now covered with Welsh slates. The windows retain their old leaded glazing and iron stanchion bars.

    The only important survival from the Norman church is the fine original but now walled up doorway which dates from around 1150, re-set in the north wall. It appears to have been moved when the current door and porch were added in the late 14th century.

    dates the windows in the chancel to the thirteenth century

    In the early 14th century, a north aisle was added, greatly extending the footprint of the church. There is a Decorated three-light east window, and two Perpendicular square-headed windows, with tracery in the form of quatrefoils, in the north wall. The north aisle is separated from the nave by a three-bay arcade with piers of quatrefoil section and arches with two orders of wave-moulding, which Sherwood says is typical of this date. Shortly afterwards, a tower was built in the northwest of the aisle; the tower is of three stages with a battlemented parapet.

    In the early 14th century, a north aisle was added, greatly extending the footprint of the church. There is a Decorated three-light east window, and two Perpendicular square-headed windows, with tracery in the form of quatrefoils, in the north wall. The north aisle is separated from the nave by a three-bay arcade with piers of quatrefoil section and arches with two orders of wave-moulding, which Sherwood says is typical of this date. Shortly afterwards, a tower was built in the northwest of the aisle; the tower is of three stages with a battlemented parapet.

    In the late fourteenth century a new doorway, porch, and new windows were added on the south wall, and the original Norman doorway was moved to its present position in the north wall. There are six large Perpendicular windows in the south wall, four of which are set high up, forming a clerestory, and making the church very light and airy.

    At some time in the fourteenth century the chancel arch was re-cut from the original Norman arch.

    The nave has a Perpendicular roof, supported on corbels carved with human heads. The main timbers of the roof may be original, but it has been restored over the years, most recently in the 1940s.

    In the fifteenth century a squint or hagioscope was added, with a Perpendicular four-centred arch at each end. This is a narrow passage allowing a view through from the north aisle to the chancel; it has an arched ceiling strengthened with ribs. The purpose of a squint was not primarily as a passageway, though it can be used as one, but to allow a priest officiating at the Lady altar in the north aisle to see what was happening at the main altar in the chancel, and synchronize worship in the church. The squint in St. Nicholas is considered an unusual feature in a parish church. Above the squint is the entrance to what was formerly the rood left, where a rood (crucifix) would have been displayed. Although the rood loft is no longer present, the rood screen, ‘with simple traceried openings’, is; it was set back in place at the chancel steps in 1906, after having previously been used to form a vestry at the east end of the aisle.

    The most important item in the church is the carved stone font. This dates from the 15th century,

    Parish church. C12, remodelled and extended C14 with late C19 restoration. Uncoursed limestone rubble; stone slate and lead roofs with stepped coped verges and moulded parapets. Nave and chancel with bellcote at junction; north aisle; north-west tower and south porch. Tower. At west end of and incorporated into north aisle. Late C14 in 3 stages (roughcast to lower stages on west) with stepped angle buttresses to north-west corner, moulded string courses (lowest at eaves level of north aisle) and embattled parapet with gargoyles on north and south sides. Belfry has stone slate-louvred 2-light pointed cusped windows with quatrefoils to apex and hoodmoulds. North side has narrow rectangular window immediately above string course to third stage. West side has pointed doorway with apparently truncated cusped 3-light pointed window directly above; narrow round-headed window to second stage. Nave. South side has moulded cornice of former eaves line broken to left by tall square-headed late C15 window with 2 cinquefoil-headed lights and by similar window of 3 lights to right. Fixed to wall to left of left window is memorial to John Wilts (d.1798) with carved head of angel to top. Above cornice are 4 late C15 clerestory windows with four-centred arches, panel tracery and hoodmoulds, that to west window terminating in head-stops. Contemporary grotesque heads and gargoyles to cornice of parapet. Roughly central C14 gabled porch has double-chamfered pointed outer arch dying into jambs. Roughcast west wall of nave has early C14 three-light window with reticulated tracery and hoodmould; carved head of bishop or mitred abbot to cornice of parapet. Outline of former steep roof pitch visible to east wall and C14 bellcote to apex has segmental arch and crocketed pinnacles. North aisle. North side has reset C12 doorway: round-headed arch of 3 orders with a small band of zig-zag. Nook-shafts with chevron decoration and scalloped capitals. Tympanum with later infilled arch cut into it has a deep pattern of small circles; hoodmould. Early C14 trefoil-headed lancet with hoodmould to right and C19 integral lateral stack immediately to left. Two square-headed 2-light windows of c.1500 to left with straight bands of quatrefoils to heads; right restored. East wall has early C14 three-light window with intersecting cusped tracery; trefoil heads to main divisions with trefoils and elongated quatrefoils to spandrels. Chancel on stepped chamfered plinth has early C14 trefoil-headed lancet with hoodmould to left on north side. 3-light C15 window like those in nave clerestory but infilled to lower part lighting squint-passage projection (see interior) to right. East wall has early C14 pointed trefoil-headed window in 3 lights and C19 foliated cross to gable. South side has trefoil-headed lancet with hoodmould to west and C15 square-headed window with 3 cinquefoil-headed lights, mouchettes and label to east. Interior. Porch has image bracket or holy water stoup incorporated into stone bench on east side. C14 pointed south doorway has one order of convex and one order of hollow moulding with hoodmould; nail-studded plank door with strap hinges. Early C14 nave arcade in 3 bays has piers of filleted quatrefoil section with moulded plinth and capitals and pointed arches with 2 orders of wave moulding. C14 segmental-pointed chancel arch with inner wave-moulded order dying into jambs is possibly recut from an earlier arch. Tower cutting into west bay of arcade has pointed doorway with nail-studded plank door and hoodmould in west face. Doorway to former rood loft to east of east bay of arcade. C15 diagonal squint-passage from north aisle to chancel has ribbed vault and chamfered 4-centred arch at each end. Late C15 cambered tie beam roof in 4 bays to nave has arch-braced wall posts resting on carved stone corbels and blank stone shields at wall-plate level. Probably C17 collar and tie beam roof to north aisle and C19 scissor-braced roof to chancel. Pointed cinquefoil-headed piscina with credence shelf in south wall of chancel and plain corbelled brackets to either side of east window. Corbelled image bracket to north-east corner of aisle with recessed image bracket immediately to west. C15 wooden screen in chancel arch has 10 one-light divisions with Perpendicular tracery patterns and rosettes to ends; C15 bench ends also reused in early C20 pulpit. Early C19 box pews to east end of nave. Probably C17 communion table with dumpy turned balusters and wooden funeral bier by door to tower. Fragments of medieval stained glass in cusped heads of clerestory window of north aisle. Further C14 fragments in east window of north aisle including mid-C14 roundel of female head. Monuments. Brass plate to Thomas Hautin (d.1643) to south of chancel arch and large memorial with broken scroll pediment to John Logan (d.1637) on north wall of north aisle. (Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp657-8) [2547]

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