There’s far more to this church than meets the eye, both externally and internally. A military college, the English Civil War, two men imprisoned in the same castle …. one a builder of the current church, the other a regicide having signed King Charles I death warrant! But that’s a story for the next post.
There has been a church on this site since Saxon times pre the Norman Conquest, which is true of so many parish churches in England. This one is in the village of Shrivenham, just a few miles away from our home, and sits in the parish of The Vale of The White Horse in Oxfordshire though historically it was located in the county of Berkshire until boundary changes in 1974. The growth of the village through the 1700s is due to the Barrington family whose name is enshrined in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Becket Massachusetts. Becket Hall was their landed residence in Shrivenham. But more of this family in my follow up post.
The present “integrated” building was created in 1638-1678, initiated by Lord Craven. The central tower however was retained having been built in the 1400s. It is dedicated to St Andrew, hence the Scottish flag flying above the clock.
Entering the church through the main door you will find a painted coat of arms of King George III the reigning monarch during the build, compulsory in all our churches but unusual to be in the porch, and then enter the main part of the building which is extraordinarily bright with sunlight streaming through the large lightly stained glass windows. The most notable feature however is the columns and arches of Tuscan design running the length of the church and taking your eye towards The Sanctuary at the furthest point away from you. Don’t walk away yet, look to your right and you will see the large 13th century octagonal font made of Purbeck marble. Sadly it looks very plain being undecorated unlike most of the fonts around our local churches, yet they are often the oldest and most historical parts of each church!
Walking around you will observe tombs and plaques with a military relevance, to the Barrington family, and to a John Widman in particular. The fact that this church was built during the era of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, and the English Civil War opens the door for a little research and my follow up post. I hope you’ll come back!