Continuing my exploration of North Oxfordshire churches I visited St Peter in Hanwell and St Etheldreda in Horley village. This quite part of the county was were stonemasons and woodcarvers of the 12 – 14thcenturies created some wonderful work, which survived the Civil War, which was very busy hereabouts!
St Peter Hanwell stands on a hillside that sweeps down to meadows and next door there is a castle! Well one tower of which rises up from a grit drive and a moat of colourful herbaceous splendour. The stone carvings are remarkable outside one can make out the scene of a woman and a mermaid chasing a fox. Make time on your visit to walk in the meadow on St Peter’s south side and walk up and enjoy a lovely view of this church.
With the church at Horley one is almost into Warwickshire, St Etheldreda* was bathed in sunlight and its ironstone glowed. Blessed with a central crossing the east end is Norman. The big story here is an enormous mural, c1450, of St Christopher on the north wall. This is a treasure and there are other fragments on the wall for one to enjoy including one of St Sitha (Zita of Lucca) the patron saint of maids and keys.
St Etheldreda is blessed by a wonderful guidebook from whence some of these details come.
*An Anglo Saxon Saint, 630 to 674AD who founded a double monastery at Ely, one for men and the other for women.