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Church of St James

A Grade I Listed Building in Somerton, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.954 / 51°57'14"N

Longitude: -1.2784 / 1°16'42"W

OS Eastings: 449688

OS Northings: 228631

OS Grid: SP496286

Mapcode National: GBR 7V8.FM1

Mapcode Global: VHCWV.S4JX

Plus Code: 9C3WXP3C+HM

Entry Name: Church of St James

Listing Date: 7 December 1966

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1225707

English Heritage Legacy ID: 422195

Location: Somerton, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX25

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Somerton

Built-Up Area: Somerton

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Somerton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Find accommodation in
Middle Aston


SP42NE (South side)
2/79 Church of St. James

Church. C12, C13, C14 and C15; chancel restored 1854; restored 1891 by J.D.
Sedding. Limestone rubble with ashlar dressings and marlstone ashlar; lead
roofs. Chancel, nave, north aisle, south chapel, west tower and north porch.
Restored chancel has a 3-light C19 east window with reticulated tracery, but
retains C14 square-headed windows to north and south of 2 lights with flowing
tracery, the lower part of the southern window blocked, and also has to north a
2-light late-C13 window with a quatrefoil in the head, plus a traceried low-side
window, now partly blocked. 3-bay south chapel, overlapping chancel and nave,
has stepped buttresses, and C15/early C16 windows with depressed arches and
Perpendicular drop tracery; the 4-light east window is blocked below an inserted
transom, and the 2 easternmost windows facing south were altered in the C16,
cutting off most of the tracery and substituting square heads with a linked
label mould (middle window is now blocked). Small C16 Tudor-arched doorway,
with recessed spandrels and a label mould with head stops, is an insertion and
may have been brought from the ruined manor house (q.v.). South wall of nave
contains a 2-light C15 clerestory window above a blocked plain Romanesque
doorway and, to extreme west, a very tall transomed 3-light C15 window with drop
tracery below a depressed arch; 3 more clerestory windows above the south chapel
are matched by similar windows in the north clerestory. North aisle has a plain
pointed early-C13 doorway, with carved headstops and an ancient plank door, but
has square-headed C15 windows except for an arched 3-light window with C14
reticulated tracery, and a 2-light C16 window, both facing north. C14 north
porch, in marlstone ashlar, has a continuously-moulded outer arch and small
ogee-headed side windows. Nave, north aisle and south chapel have matching
limestone-ashlar parapets with bold crenellation. C14 marlstone-ashlar 3-stage
tower, with diagonal buttresses containing canopied image niches, has a similar
crenellated parapet above a moulded string linking 8 winged gargoyles, from
which rise panelled pinnacles, each with gablets and foliated finials; west face
includes a 2-light window with blind tracery, above a doorway with deep
continuous mouldings containing an old plank double door with the remains of
ancient hinges. The second stage has trefoil-head lancets and blind quatrefoils
to south and west, but to north is a larger recess containing a limestone
canopied carving of the Crucifixion with attendant figures; top stage has
2-light bell-chamber openings with transoms and Y-tracery. Interior: chancel has
a C16-style roof of c.1850 with a pierced frieze, but retains a 3-seat C14
sedilia with mouchettes in the tracery, and a remarkable carved stone reredos of
the Last Supper with each figure below an ogee canopy (probably of c.1400). A
plain plastered arch, opening to the south chapel, retains one shaft of its C15
predecessor. C19 chancel arch of 2 chamfered orders dying into the walls. 4-bay
north arcade has round Transitional columns, but pointed arches of 2 chamfered
orders and responds are probably C14 as is south arcade, of 2 arches with
continuous mouldings, and low tower arch of 3 chamfered orders. Two C14 tomb
recesses in north aisle; small C15/early C16 piscina in south chapel. C15 nave
roof has moulded timbers and rises from carved corbels; similar roof in north
aisle; south chapel roof in C15 style is probably C19. Fine C15 chancel screen
has a drop-traceried arcade above a pierced frieze, but the lower panels of 1891
are by J.D. Sedding. C15 screen in the south arcade has traceried panels and 2
matching doors; the western section probably originally returned across the
chapel. Late-C16 panelled screen on south side of chancel has a row of Doric
columns below a cornice. Other fittings include two C13/C14 bench ends in the
chancel, a number of C16 bench pews at the rear of the nave with some traceried
and linenfold panels, some early-C18 box pews, a panelled pulpit of 1764 on 6
turned legs, tower screen of c.1900 by Thomas Garner, and an unusual small C14
font. Stained glass includes some C17 armorial quarries and a window of 1892 by
Christopher Whall, in the north aisle, and a C19 east window in the chancel.
South chapel has some patterned medieval floor tiles. Monuments in the nave
include a mid-C17 wall tablet to Mary and William Mynne, several C17 ledgers,
and a large medieval floor slab with an incised foliated cross. The Fermor
monuments in the south chapel include a large plain tomb chest with brasses to
William and Elizabeth Fermor (c.1552), an elaborate alabaster chest with
effigies of Thomas and Brigitta Fermor (c.1580) by Richard and Gabriel Roilly of
Burton-on-Trent, and 2 large canopied monuments with Classical columns,
obelisks, cartouches of arms and strapwork decoration to John Fermor (died 1625)
and Richard Fermor (died 1642/3) whose effigies they contain. There are also
several C17/early-C18 ledgers, 3 early-C19 memorials with reliefs of weeping
figures, and 3 hatchments. An undated wall monument to James and Elizabeth Smith
is probably of c.1600. The Fermors were a noted Recusant family who moved from
Somerton to Tusmore in 1625.
(VCH: Oxfordshire: Vol VI, p298; Buildings of England: 0xfordshire: pp767-8)

Listing NGR: SP4969028631

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