Iffley, Oxford -  St Mary's Church

12th century

Click on photos to enlarge.
Notes in italics from Oxfordshire by Jennifer Sherwood and Nikolaus Pevsner (1974) Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

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One of the best preserved C12 village churches in England.

A magnificent little church, lavishly decorated with sculpture. Built c.1170-80 .... The elaborate decoration is typical of the late C12. Windows and doorways are deeply recessed to provide a wide field for sculpture, which although mostly geometrical patterns has some lively naturalistic details which anticipate Gothic.

Dscn0462-rot-levmid-u2-405-u0.5-q80.jpg (79661 bytes) Dscn0464-crop-u1-h405-u0.5t3-q50.jpg (79636 bytes) On the W front, which is divided into three stages, are three deeply recessed windows in the gable ornamented with zigzag and beakhead and divided by shafts with carved capitals. ... The frieze and the small blind window are entirely Victorian. In the centre of the W front is a rose-window with zigzag mouldings ... inserted in 1856-7. Such windows are not unusual in C12. 

Dscn0463-u1-405-u0.5-q80.jpg (86117 bytes) Dscn0463-crpu1-h405.jpg (70704 bytes) W doorway, flanked by two tall blind arches with three continuous orders of carving, a wide inner order of zigzag set at r. angles to the wall, typical of c1170, and two orders of beakhead over a roll-moulding. On the hood a chain motif whose beaded links frame reliefs of signs of the Zodiac and symbols of the Evangelists.

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Nave south side

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Nave north side

The crenellated parapet on the nave dates from the 17th century. Round the entire nave runs a corbel-table of plain square blocks. ... The nave N and S walls have two windows flanking the doorways, originally with a continuous hood. The two westernmost windows are unaltered. They have arches decorated externally with zigzag and internally with more zigzag and a roll-moulding. Larger windows were inserted E of the doorways in the C15, but the outline of the C12 openings and part of their mouldings remain.

Dscn0466-crpu1-570.jpg (79309 bytes) The south doorway. The inner order is continuous, a roll with a hollow on either side filled with rosettes, fantastic beasts, and quatrefoils. On the two outer orders are zigzag and a roll with sawtooth decoration. They are carried on shafts with diaper and zigzag patterns. On the capitals lively carvings of two horsemen fighting, a centaur suckling her young, and Samson with the lion. Dscn0460-crpu.jpg (49871 bytes) The N doorway is by comparison plain. Arch with a zigzag boss and a roll and sawtooth moulding under a beaded hood. Plain jamb shafts with scalloped capitals. 

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South side

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North side

Tower and chancel. Tower of three stages with shallow clasping buttresses. In the bell-stage on all sides two arched openings divided by pilaster strips under a corbel-table of alternating pointed and round arches. ... Each bell-opening has an arch of three recessed orders, the central arch on shafts with carved capitals. Only the SW arch is carved, with zigzag and beakhead. On the NW a stair-turret with slit windows and a fluted stone roof. On the ground stage C15 windows have been inserted in the original openings.

Dscn0461-rot-u1-540-u0.5-q50.jpg (75841 bytes) W chancel bay original, with C13 windows in the C12 openings. E of this, the chancel was rebuilt in the early C13. One-light windows without tracery. 

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The tower arches are richly decorated. On the W faces of the responds octagonal shafts of Purbeck marble, a detail taken up widely in the C13. The decoration of both arches is similar. On the W side two bands of zigzag and a wide outer order with a large stylized flower motif, probably a lotus. 

Dscn0474-rot-levmid-u1.5-405-u0.3.jpg (24163 bytes) The Chancel. The W bay original ... has a quadripartite vault, the ribs with zigzag.  Dscn0474-crplevu1.jpg (21541 bytes) At the centre a boss with dragons' heads ... 

Dscn0475-lev-u1-540-u0.5t5-q60.jpg (68894 bytes) The C13 E bay of the chancel has a quadripartite vault.  Dscn0476-levmid-u2-405-u0.5-q80.jpg (68065 bytes) Shafted windows with roll-mouldings. 

Dscn0477-rot-cast-u1t3-540-u0.5t3-q60.jpg (61671 bytes) C13 sedilia with three trefoiled arches on shafts. Piscina of the same date set in a recess with a shouldered arch. Projecting bowl on a half-shaft. Dscn0471-transf-soft-varlt-u2-h540-u0.5-q60.jpg (62990 bytes) West end interior


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