St Mary Magdalene, Balscote

Essential exterior stonework repairs
OHCT grant: £10,000

The 2018 Quinquennial presented early 2019 called for essential exterior stonework repairs principally to the 14c tower, the east Chancel wall and internal walls of the Chancel and Sanctuary.

Early indications of cost were soon history and the final quotations produced a need to meet circa £50K. This figure included quoted work, extra security for roof protection, scaffolding and professional fees. The finances were assembled by the sale of land endowed to the church in the early 1800’s, investment income and a grant from OHCT.

With finances secured quotations were sought, a contractor selected, faculty approval secured and work eventually was started in June 2022; the delay largely caused by Covid restrictions. The actual work was completed by the end of September 2022 by Weldon Stone of Northamptonshire.

The tower had badly cracked stones replaced and crumbling stonework faced with lime mortar. This was the bulk of the work externally. Improvements were made to the leadwork discharge of rainwater at the top of the tower and the opportunity presented by the scaffolding was used to repair and decorate the clock face. Further work was completed on the east wall of the Sanctuary. The internal walls in the Chanel were stripped to one metre, replastered and lime washed to colour match existing.

In writing this summary of our experience it is appropriate that we record our thanks to OHCT for the ready way in which the help was offered and the ease with which the award was handled.


The Church (Grade II* listed) is a “Chapel of Ease” in the ecclesiastical parish of Wroxton St Mary in the north of the county of Oxfordshire.

The original medieval church consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, and a slender south tower. It appears to have been rebuilt in the early 14th century, but retains a tub-shaped font and part of a tympanum, both of which may be late-12th century. The tower has an octagonal parapet, and the lowest stage serves as a porch. The tower has 2 bells, one recast in 1756, the other is probably 19th-century.

In the period 1800–23 the chapel was ‘completely repaired’ and given new pews and a gallery (since removed). In 1849–50 the chancel roof was repaired. There were extensive restorations in 1873; in 1921 the chancel roof and in 1926–7 the nave and tower were restored. In the interior are two 14th century piscinae and a pulpit made up of 16th- and 17th-century woodwork from the continent.

Testing a popup