Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST JAMES
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cherwell (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 49688 28631


SOMERTON CHURCH STREET SP42NE (South side) 2/79 Church of St. James 07/12/66 GV I

Church. C12, C13, C14 and C15; chancel restored 1854; restored 1891 by J.D. Sedding. Limestone rubble with ashlar dressings and marlstone ashlar; lead roofs. Chancel, nave, north aisle, south chapel, west tower and north porch. Restored chancel has a 3-light C19 east window with reticulated tracery, but retains C14 square-headed windows to north and south of 2 lights with flowing tracery, the lower part of the southern window blocked, and also has to north a 2-light late-C13 window with a quatrefoil in the head, plus a traceried low-side window, now partly blocked. 3-bay south chapel, overlapping chancel and nave, has stepped buttresses, and C15/early C16 windows with depressed arches and Perpendicular drop tracery; the 4-light east window is blocked below an inserted transom, and the 2 easternmost windows facing south were altered in the C16, cutting off most of the tracery and substituting square heads with a linked label mould (middle window is now blocked). Small C16 Tudor-arched doorway, with recessed spandrels and a label mould with head stops, is an insertion and may have been brought from the ruined manor house (q.v.). South wall of nave contains a 2-light C15 clerestory window above a blocked plain Romanesque doorway and, to extreme west, a very tall transomed 3-light C15 window with drop tracery below a depressed arch; 3 more clerestory windows above the south chapel are matched by similar windows in the north clerestory. North aisle has a plain pointed early-C13 doorway, with carved headstops and an ancient plank door, but has square-headed C15 windows except for an arched 3-light window with C14 reticulated tracery, and a 2-light C16 window, both facing north. C14 north porch, in marlstone ashlar, has a continuously-moulded outer arch and small ogee-headed side windows. Nave, north aisle and south chapel have matching limestone-ashlar parapets with bold crenellation. C14 marlstone-ashlar 3-stage tower, with diagonal buttresses containing canopied image niches, has a similar crenellated parapet above a moulded string linking 8 winged gargoyles, from which rise panelled pinnacles, each with gablets and foliated finials; west face includes a 2-light window with blind tracery, above a doorway with deep continuous mouldings containing an old plank double door with the remains of ancient hinges. The second stage has trefoil-head lancets and blind quatrefoils to south and west, but to north is a larger recess containing a limestone canopied carving of the Crucifixion with attendant figures; top stage has 2-light bell-chamber openings with transoms and Y-tracery. Interior: chancel has a C16-style roof of c.1850 with a pierced frieze, but retains a 3-seat C14 sedilia with mouchettes in the tracery, and a remarkable carved stone reredos of the Last Supper with each figure below an ogee canopy (probably of c.1400). A plain plastered arch, opening to the south chapel, retains one shaft of its C15 predecessor. C19 chancel arch of 2 chamfered orders dying into the walls. 4-bay north arcade has round Transitional columns, but pointed arches of 2 chamfered orders and responds are probably C14 as is south arcade, of 2 arches with continuous mouldings, and low tower arch of 3 chamfered orders. Two C14 tomb recesses in north aisle; small C15/early C16 piscina in south chapel. C15 nave roof has moulded timbers and rises from carved corbels; similar roof in north aisle; south chapel roof in C15 style is probably C19. Fine C15 chancel screen has a drop-traceried arcade above a pierced frieze, but the lower panels of 1891 are by J.D. Sedding. C15 screen in the south arcade has traceried panels and 2 matching doors; the western section probably originally returned across the chapel. Late-C16 panelled screen on south side of chancel has a row of Doric columns below a cornice. Other fittings include two C13/C14 bench ends in the chancel, a number of C16 bench pews at the rear of the nave with some traceried and linenfold panels, some early-C18 box pews, a panelled pulpit of 1764 on 6 turned legs, tower screen of c.1900 by Thomas Garner, and an unusual small C14 font. Stained glass includes some C17 armorial quarries and a window of 1892 by Christopher Whall, in the north aisle, and a C19 east window in the chancel. South chapel has some patterned medieval floor tiles. Monuments in the nave include a mid-C17 wall tablet to Mary and William Mynne, several C17 ledgers, and a large medieval floor slab with an incised foliated cross. The Fermor monuments in the south chapel include a large plain tomb chest with brasses to William and Elizabeth Fermor (c.1552), an elaborate alabaster chest with effigies of Thomas and Brigitta Fermor (c.1580) by Richard and Gabriel Roilly of Burton-on-Trent, and 2 large canopied monuments with Classical columns, obelisks, cartouches of arms and strapwork decoration to John Fermor (died 1625) and Richard Fermor (died 1642/3) whose effigies they contain. There are also several C17/early-C18 ledgers, 3 early-C19 memorials with reliefs of weeping figures, and 3 hatchments. An undated wall monument to James and Elizabeth Smith is probably of c.1600. The Fermors were a noted Recusant family who moved from Somerton to Tusmore in 1625. (VCH: Oxfordshire: Vol VI, p298; Buildings of England: 0xfordshire: pp767-8)

Listing NGR: SP4969028631


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

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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Sherwood, J , The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, (1974), 767-8
Salzman, L F, The Victoria History of the County of Oxford, (1962), 298


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 04 Oct 2001
Reference: IOE01/05259/18
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Alistair F Nisbet. Source Historic England Archive
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