Rycote Chapel


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018823

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1998


Ordnance survey map of Rycote Chapel
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: South Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Great Haseley

National Grid Reference: SP 66698 04652


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre- Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.

Rycote Chapel is an exceptional example of this class of monument. It retains its original wooden features including the bench pews and the rood screen base. In addition it contains a number of early wall paintings and good quality later additions, notably the musicians' gallery of 1610. The chapel is open to the public and as such forms an important educational amenity.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a 15th century chantry known as Rycote Chapel which is situated close to Rycote House in Rycote Park. The chantry, which was consecrated in 1449, was founded by Richard and Sybil Quatremayne of Rycote and was dedicated to St Michael. It is built of coursed, squared limestone rubble with ashlar dressings obtained from the Taynton quarries. The chapel includes a chancel, a nave and west tower. The nave and chancel were built as a single structure of five bays delineated by stepped buttresses. At the eastern end is a four centre arched window with five lights and panel tracery. The side windows are all two light, with shallow arches of triangular form with labels. At the west end of the north side is a fine four centre arched doorway with moulded square surround and recessed spandrels with quatrefoils, and there is a corresponding but plainer doorway on the south side. The tower is built in three stages with a crenellated top. It has a door in the west side with a pointed moulded arch above which is a three light triangular headed window and a canopied niche. The belfry has two light openings with triangular heads. The roof (which was partly repaired in the 1960s) is of a continuous wagon style and was originally painted. The bench pews and the base of the chancel screen are contemporary with the building. The western gallery, the pulpit and two elaborate canopied pews, including a supported musicians' gallery are dated to c.1610. The internal wooden fixtures and fittings are included in the scheduling. The elaborate baroque reredos is dated to 1682 and has four fluted Corinthian columns and a segmented pediment. There are also barleytwist communion rails of a similar date and later alterations include a marble bust of 1767 commemorating James Bertie, Earl of Abingdon. To the north stands Rycote House on the probable site of the original manor house and adjacent to the house of Sir John Heron, treasurer to Henry VIII, which was built after 1521. This was altered after 1539 by Sir John Williams, later Baron Williams of Thame and played host to both Elizabeth I and Charles I. There are surviving drawings of the house in c.1695 and in 1714 prior to it burning down in 1745. The only remains to survive the subsequent demolition and the building of the present house are a section of wall and one tower, both Listed Grade II*. The medieval village of Rycote Magna is believed to have been located close to the church although its exact location within the estate remains a matter of conjecture. The remains of Rycote House, the tower and wall, the medieval village and the churchyard are not included in the scheduling. Ryecote Chapel is in the care of the Secretary of State and is a Grade I Listed Building.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 28161

Legacy System: RSM


OXFORD ARCH. REPORT, Mudd, A, Chapel of St. Michael Rycote, (1995)
PRN 2420, C.A.O., Rycote Chapel, (1995)

End of official listing