English Churches - Oxfordshire

St Peter ad Vincula Church, South Newington - Part 1

Some history and a description

South Newington is a small settlement just off the A361, south west of Banbury. The church is built on the high ground, above the River Swere. This was a prosperous area in the Middle Ages and this is reflected by the church.

There is reference of a church here by 1170, although only the font and two Norman arches survive from this church. Around 1290 there was a major reconstruction when the south aisle, most of the north aisle and the tower were added. In the C15th, the nave roof was raised and a clerestory added. What makes the church unique is the remarkable collection of wall paintings on the north arcade and north aisle, which are described in detail on the next page. 

It is an attractive church with tall square tower with battlements and crocketed pinnacles. 

South Newington Church

The nave has a clerestory with lower side aisles. The chancel is lower and has a priests door on the south wall and two bat boxes on the south wall. The impressive porch was added in the C15th and has a battlemented roof with a lot of pinnacles. There is an empty statue niche above the door and there are carved heads of a king and queen at the base of the doorway arch.

There are steps into the church. The plain glass windows flood the church with light. There is a lovely Norman arcade with round pillars with carved capitals and round arches.

South Newington Church

Above the arches is a remarkable sequence of C15th wall paintings depicting the Passion of Christ. The south arcade is later and has pointed arches with no paintings.

The north aisle was originally the chantry chapel of the Gifford family and is covered with C14th wall paintings, including the Annunciation and the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket.

At the back of the church is a Norman tub font with chevron carving round the top. The pews date from 1825 and are numbered. There is a board on the back wall explaining that of the 224 seats 186 are declared to be free and unappropriated for ever.

South Newington Church

The pulpit is wood panelled. The altar has a small wood reredos behind it which is just wide enough for a cross and candlesticks. On the south wall is a small piscina set under an ogee arch.

There is a small altar in the north aisle with a prie dieu and the remains of red floral motifs on the sides of the window. In the south aisle is the old bier.

The framed certificates on the north wall date from the C17th and C18th state the deceased were buried in shrouds made of sheep’s wool. They are decorated with bodies wrapped in wool shrouds, skeletons, skulls, hour glasses and other signs of mortality. 
South Newington Church

South Newington Church

There is parking on the road by the church. The church is supposed to be open in the summer months from April to September. It was locked when we arrived, but there was a list of key holders on the notice board. There was no answer from Church Farm next to the church, but we managed to get a key from Mr Pritchard at Old Forge Cottage next to it. The post code is OX15 4JF and the grid reference is SP 407333.

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