Treasure is tucked away in the north-eastern part of Oxfordshire, close to but far enough away from the M40’s roar. Almost secret, criss–crossed by well behaved ‘A’ roads and good bus service. Three villages, three churches a few miles from each other, each one listed in Jenkins’ big book, England's Thousand Best Churches. *Simon Jenkins 1999.
And along with me was Rosie the Puppy.
Mr J was at his mischievous best in his report card all three churches; Adderbury, Bloxham and South Newington.
ADDERBURY St Mary
With Bloxham, Adderbury is considered the other twin glory of North Oxfordshire. A helpful Church Warden directed me (on this phone) through a chancel door, indicated by a trail of electrical cables. They are in the middle of a big makeover, steeple, tower and something high above the Rood Screen. One of the chaps doing the work said several more months’ work was in the offing.
Jenkins:a Decorated structure adorned by the north Oxfordshire school of carvers…both inside and out their gallery of vernacular art, Animals, grotesques and humans tumble along the cornice line.
|With Bloxham, Adderbury is considered the twin glories of North Oxfordshire.|
BLOXHAM St Mary
Another grand steeple is in evidence here too and with more virtuoso stone carving outside and in. One high spot is the Milcombe Chapel, as classic 15thC Perpendicular.
Jenkins: Light floods in past the delicate concave piers of the arcade, like a conservatory tacked on a gloomy stately home
|Milcombe Chapel Bloxham: like a conservatory tacked on a gloomy stately home|
SOUTH NEWINGTON St Peter Ad Vincula**
Before visiting the church, Rosie and I went for a pint in The Duck on the Pond which is is a delightful Pub & Restaurant, set just off on the A361 Banbury to Chipping Norton Road. Newly done up and they provided a warm welcome and a good beer.
Out of the pub, across the road, the lane and there is St Peters with its bizarre porch favoured in a late work by my hero John Piper.
Oh joy! Discovering the wall paintings herein, the best of which are on the north aisle including one depicting the murder of Thomas a Becket.
Jenkins:This familiar scene of early medieval piety is singularly horrific, with Becket’s head spouting blood as the sword cleaves it in two.
|South Newington: Oh joy! Discovering the wall paintings|
SPECIAL THANKS TO The Revd Dale Gingrich, Vicar of
Bloxham, Milcombe and South Newington for his guidance on the churchs' 'opening hours'
Rosie and I have more churching jaunts planned for what is left of this year and next. With Mr Jenkins’ magnum opusreadily to hand
*Simon Jenkins 1999
Simon Jenkins has travelled the length and breadth of England to select his thousand best churches. Organised by county, each church is described - often with delightful asides - and given a star rating, from one to five.
The author acknowledges the copyright © Simon Jenkins, 1999,2000
**Saint Peter ad Vincula (Saint Peter in Chains) alludes to the bible story of the Liberation of Saint Peter, when an angel rescued the Apostle Peter, imprisoned by King Herod. Frequently seen translations are: English - St Peter in Chains. ... Latin - Sancti Petri ad Vincula.