Chalgrove Church

Wallingford Castle

A well-endowed Church existed by the late 11th century, associated at 1st with a Prebend in the Chapel of Wallingford Castle, and attracting high-status but mostly non-resident incumbents. In 1317 Edward II gave the Advowson to Thame Abbey, which appropriated the Living in 1319. Thereafter the Parish was served by meagrely endowed Vicars, though the Church Fabric benefited from support of wealthy Inhabitants including the Barentins.  Patronage passed at the Reformation to Christ Church, Oxford, which presented prominent Churchmen & Academics who were often absent. Dissent developed from the 19th century, leading to the building of a Congregationalist Chapel which passed later to Wesleyan Methodists, and regular Services in both Church & Chapel continued in 2015.
Church Origins & Parochial Organisation
Chalgrove Church was apparently one of several given by the Norman Baron Miles Crispin for the endowment of Prebends in the Collegiate Chapel of St Nicholas in Wallingford Castle, probably in the late 11th century. It was still nominally held as a Prebend (in the Earl of Cornwall’s gift) in the 1250s, although in practice it was treated more like an independent Parish Church, and most Institutions to the Rectory made no mention of the Wallingford link.  By 1291 Wallingford Castle had only a £2 pension from the Church, which was paid to Bec Abbey along with £3 6s 8d for specified Tithes, given to the Abbey by Crispin.  The Prebend was not mentioned later, and the Church (dedicated to St Mary the Virgin) remained a Rectory until its appropriation by Thame Abbey.  Long before then Berrick Salome formed a dependent Chapelry, reflecting the Manors’ shared Ownership.

For administrative purposes, the Parish was included in the rural Deanery of Aston from at least 1254 until its transfer to Cuddesdon Deanery in 1956.  The Boundaries of the Ecclesiastical Parish remained unchanged until 1929 when the formerly detached part of Wheatfield Parish at Rofford was transferred to ChalgroveWarpsgrove was added in 1932.  From 1938 to 1976 the Benefice was held in Plurality with Newington, but following the Village’s expansion in the 1960s an Independent Vicar was appointed to serve the single Benefice of Chalgrove with Berrick Salome.
The right to Present to both Church & Prebend passed probably with the Honour of Wallingford until King John Granted the Advowson of the Church alone to Hugh de Malaunay in 1199.  Disputes followed in 1219.  Thereafter the Advowson reverted apparently to holders of the Honour, despite the kin Richard, Earl of Cornwall, presented before 1241c.1258,  and successive Earls retained the Advowson until Piers Gaveston’s death in 1312 when it reverted to the Crown.  Edward II Presented in 1313, and in 1317 Granted the Advowson to Thame Abbey, to maintain 6 Monks to perform daily Mass for the Souls of Piers and the King’s Ancestors.

After the Abbey acquired the Rectory in 1319 it presented Vicars until the Dissolution, the Abbeys Steward Edmund Bury being Granted a single turn in 1511.  In 1542 the King gave the Advowson to Oxford Cathedral, from which it passed to Christ Church College on its foundation in 1546.   One-off presentations were Granted to Roger Day, Thomas Osborne, & Richard Day in 1544 & to Richard Rice in 1604, and in 1620 the Crown presented ‘by lapse’.  Thereafter Christ Church presented every subsequent Vicar, remaining Patron in 2015.
Glebe, Tithes & Vicarage
The Rectory was valued at 40 marks (£26 13s 4d) in 1241, 30 marks (£20) in 1219 & 1254, and £21 6s 8d in 1291, making it one of the wealthiest in the Deanery  The late 18th-century Rectory Estate included over 60a of Arable, but its Medieval extent may have been smaller, since in 1341 (when the Rectory belonged to Thame Abbey) less than a 5th of Rectorial Income came from Glebe or from hay and small Tithes.  Church Land held by Tenants of Plessis’s Manor in 1279, including 3 houses, ½-Yardland, 8a, and a Close, probably represented gifts for the Church’s maintenance rather than Glebe.  Bec Abbey’s share of the Tithes (which included Mill Tithes) was sometimes Leased to the Rector, who also received specified Tithes from Colham (Middx) & Fleet Marston (Bucks). Since both Manors belonged to the Honour of Wallingford those, too, were probably Granted by Miles Crispin.  A few acres of additional Glebe lay in Berrick Salome.

The Vicarage ordained in 1319 comprised a house and 4a of Glebe, Altarage from Chalgrove & Berrick Salome, and a portion of Clapcot’s Tithes (Berks).  The Abbey was to provide 2 Cartloads of Hay a year, the Vicar taking over the provision of Books, Vestments, & Furnishings.  In 1392 the Vicar petitioned the Pope claiming that the Endowment was insufficient and that the Monks (whom he greatly feared) had extorted an Oath that he would not try to increase it. The Pope ruled for the Vicar, but it is unclear whether anything was done before 1471 when the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered the Abbey to Grant additional Tithes worth £3 13s 4d.  Those probably included Berrick Salome’s Tithes, which the Vicar subsequently held along with a few acres of Glebe there.  In 1526 his income was £12 a year and in 1535 £12 9s, reduced by payment of a Pension to the Abbot.  A few Vicars rented additional Tithes or Land, including (in 1476) the former Bec Tithes at £2 13s 4d a year, and in 1495 the entire Rectory.

By the 19th century, the Vicar’s income derived mainly from Tithes, including (by then) the small Tithes.  The Dean & Canons of St Georges Chapel Windsor gave a customary payment of £5 for the former Bec Tithes, and Rent from the original Vicarial Glebe produced £4 a year. Christ Church paid £7 in lieu of the 2 Cartloads of Hay  At tithe commutation in 1841 the Vicar received an annual Rent-charge of £152 7s 6d, and at Inclosure in 1843 he was awarded 3½ acres. An additional £200 Rent-charge was awarded for Berrick’s Tithes, plus 7½a for Glebe there.  By 1910 net income was £216, rising to £337 in 1930.
Rectory & Vicarage Houses
Reference to the ‘Parson’s Gate‘ in 1203 suggests a Rectory House complex, possibly on the Site of the later Glebe Farmhouse on Church Lane.  A separate Cottage belonging to the Church, set in 1a in the Village Centre, was given as a Vicarage House in 1319, having previously been occupied Rent-free by Thomas Mitchel (presumably a Priest) and his predecessors. Thame Abbey agreed to rebuild it with a Hall, 2 Chambers each equipped with a Garderobe (1 Chamber for the Vicar and one for Guests), and a buttery, stable, kitchen, & brewhouse. Meanwhile, the Vicar occupied the Church’s principal house or mansum, presumably the former Rectory House.

Robert Whicker (Vicar 1585–1609) built a new Chimney and made other repairs, but the Vicarage House was not large and in the 1660s was assessed on only 3 or 4 hearths. Richard Manning (Vicar 1668–1701) raised a family there, but his successor Thomas Pocock (1701–11) considered it inadequate and rebuilt it on a larger scale in 1702, with a square, 5-Bay main Range of 2-Storeys & Attics.  An off-centre Entrance Hall led to a back Staircase, giving access to 4 rooms on each floor. A single-Storeyed, L-shaped Service Wing on the East contained the Vicars study, kitchen, cellars, & stable.


In 1782 the House (despite an incoming Vicars complaints) was reportedly in good repair, and no major work was undertaken until 1885 when the Oxford Architect E G Bruton judged it to be small, inconvenient, and insanitary.   Bruton’s remodelling created a 7-Bay symmetrical Stuccoed Front lit by Sash windows & Dormers, with a central glazed Doorway under a wooden Hood. The Building retains the single-Storeyed Service Range, though Bruton extended the Dining Room into its Western end. The interior includes 18th-century Panelling and window shutters, a moulded plaster Cornice, chamfered Beams, and a dogleg Staircase with turned Balusters on a closed String. Improvements were carried out in 1949 following the Houses use for London evacuees during WW2.  It was sold and converted into separate dwellings in 1986, the Vicar moving to a modern house on Brinkinfield Road.
Church Fabric Endowment
A Charitable Endowment for Church Repair was recorded from the 17th century, derived perhaps from the Church Lands held by Tenants in 1279.  In 1685 it included a house next to the Churchyard, a house & Close with 6a in the Fields, and a 3rd house with a Close, 16a of Arable, & 1a of Pasture.  The Charity suffered long periods of mismanagement: in 1617 no account had been given for 12 years of an acre from which the Churchwardens took Timber to repair the Church Barn, and in the early 18th century they were accused of ‘shamefully’ misapplying the profits (then worth c.£20 a year) and failing to keep accounts. Such criticisms had little effect, possibly because the income removed the need for a Church Rate.  In the early 19th century the accounts were conflated with those of Hart’s & White’s Charities, and some Rents were irregularly paid; by then the Estate included the Red Lion Public House, 3 houses occupied by Paupers, and 22½a of Open-field Land, let for a total of £43 10s a year.  Parts of the Estate were Sold in 1965 & 1980/2, though the Trustees retained the Red Lion.
Pastoral Care & Religious Life
The Middle Ages
Rectors or Prebendaries appointed before the Church’s appropriation in 1319 included several high-status Careerists, who are unlikely to have resided. Master John Romanus, Rector by 1241, was a notorious Pluralist and already Subdean of York Minster, and was refused permission to Lease the Church.  Walter Bronescombe, Archdeacon of Surrey, held the Church from 1257 before becoming Bishop of Exeter and was succeeded by Philip of Eye, Treasurer of the Church’s Patron Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and later Treasurer of England.  Occasionally there were rival claims: Master Roger of Ludlow successfully resisted a challenge by Peter of Lewknor in 1294, remaining Rector until his death in 1307, while in 1313 the King presented Nicholas of Lichfield, forcing the eventual resignation of the sitting (but probably non-resident) Rector Bonacursus de Frescobaldi of Florence.  Daily care was presumably provided by stipendiary Chaplains, of whom one in the late 12th or early 13th century called himself ‘Vicar‘, suggesting some formal but probably temporary arrangement.

Vicars appointed by Thame Abbey after 1319 were less prestigious, subsisting on a sometimes inadequate income.  Simon de Croilland (Vicar 1319–33), Simon de Weedon (1333–51), & John Leyton (instituted 1351) were apparently all outsiders, though probably resident.  William Manning had local connections but resigned soon after his institution in 1375,  while William Achecot, Vicar in the 1390s, was associated with the Lord Thomas Barentin, accompanying him in 1391 when Thomas illegally seized possession of Purley Manor (Berks).  Following Achecot’s resignation in 1401 each of his 3 successors stayed for under a year.  A few other named Chaplains may have served in the Lords’ households, assisted at Berrick Salome, or helped within the Parish, one of them (John Bonere) becoming Vicar in 1375.

Reconstruction of Barentin’s Manor House in the late 14th century, looking North. Hall & Cross Wing lie North of the Main Courtyard, with an adjoining 3-Bay Chapel Kitchen to their right, and Farm Buildings in the foreground.

Parishioners & Churchwardens may have built a Church House during the 15th century, while Private Donations to the Church included Land given in 1365 to maintain a Cresset full of Pitch, for lighting 4 lamps in Memory of John Pyron.  Part of the Cresset probably survives in a Wall at the South Arcades East end. The Donors son augmented the Grant in 1400, requesting that 5 lights be maintained at a daily Mass and on other occasions for 50 years.  Patronage by the Lordly Barentin’s was reflected in elaborate Memorial Brasses in the Chancel, and probably in the Chancel’s celebrated Wall Paintings, while a Private Oratory in the Barentin Manor House existed by the 1330s and was probably rebuilt c.1370.  Chalgrove Land given to the Hospital of St John the Baptist in Oxford c.1210–30 supported Altar lights in the Hospital.

Perhaps the most distinguished of Chalgrove’s late Medieval Vicars was John Kyrkby (1468–1511), a Fellow of the Queens College, Oxford, who bequeathed Chalgrove Property to the College.  His successor Ralph Haydock (Vicar 1511–49) resided and witnessed local Wills, apparently employing Chaplains or Curates. Continued Lay involvement is reflected in Parishioners’ Bequests, including a bullock from Thomas Simms (d.1531) for ‘upholding’ the Church, and ½a of barley to maintain St Catherine’s Altar.  Parishioners in the 1540s left money to the High Altar, barley for the upkeep of Bells, and less specific Bequests of money & grain, while John Child (d.1543) requested 5 Masses on the Anniversary of his death.
The Reformation to 1800
Despite such Bequests, most inhabitants seem to have outwardly accepted the Religious changes of the mid-16th century, with Catholic invocations quickly disappearing from Parishioners’ Wills.  The Vicar William Huske (1549–63) was a Protestant who may have been temporarily removed under Mary I (1553–8) when the Curates Peter Moryn & Geoffrey Acrith briefly revived Roman Catholic practices.  In 1552 he reported that some of the Church’s Furnishings had been stolen, presumably early in Edward VI’s Reign, although several Vestments and pieces of Plate remained.  Despite the upheavals, Parishioners continued to make Bequests towards the Church’s upkeep throughout the 1550s, and Wills remained firmly Protestant in tone.  Land given for Obits was sold in 1568, removing the last vestiges of pre-Reformation practice.

Christ Church’s acquisition of the Advowson seems to have increased the incidence of non-residence amongst Chalgroves Vicars.  Thomas Day (Vicar 1563-70) was presumably presented by his kinsman Roger Day (Granted a turn in 1544), while 2 subsequent presentees failed to reach induction, suggesting that the Granting of turns was causing confusion.  Day and his successors let the Vicarage’s Tithes, prompting disputes between the Lessee & local Farmers, while Giles Laurence (Vicar 1573–85), an Oxford Academic and Pluralist, may have also let the Vicarage House, which his successor Robert Whicker (1585–1609) had to repair.  Whicker himself was buried in the Parish and was a generous Benefactor to its Poor, but employed a succession of Curates including his nephew Thomas Whicker.  His successors were mostly high-ranking Churchmen and Academics who probably delegated their parochial duties to Curates: among them were Richard Thornton (Vicar 1609–15), a Prebendary of Worcester Cathedral, Samuel Fell & William Goodwin (1615–17 & 1617–20), who both served as Dean of Christ Church, & John Prideaux (1620–5), later Bishop of Worcester.  An exception was Goodwins son (and Prideaux’s brother-in-law) John Goodwin (Vicar 1625–36), who apparently resided and left goods worth over £117, including books, silver, grain (some from Tithes), & livestock.

John Wall (Vicar 1637–56) was a Canon of Christ Church and a renowned Preacher, who despite his praise for Cromwell scorned Religious separatists and remained a moderate Anglican.  His successor Francis Markham (1656–68), who was buried in the Church and apparently resided, was probably no more tolerant, and Dissent remained small-scale in Chalgrove despite its presence in the area, with only 3 Nonconformists reported in 1676.  Several 17th-century Vicars were equally strongly anti-Catholic, and few recusants were reported save for the Cumber family, resident until the 1650s.  In 1682 the Vicar claimed that the Parish’s only Roman Catholic had been ‘through my endeavours reclaimed and brought to complete conformity’, although Mary Quatremain remained a recusant in the 1690s.

Parishioners’ Gifts during the 17th century included a Silver tankard flagon inscribed to the Memory of Richard Chibnall (d.1620).  A Chalice in Memory of his wife was bought in 1656, and Markham’s Widow Alice (d.1679) left a Silver paten, while a new Sanctus Bell was hung in 1659 and a new Ring of 6 in 1664.  A Parishioner in 1679 requested burial in the Church’s middle Aisle near his usual Seat, although Laymen’s stakes in the Church led sometimes to conflict.  Under Richard Manning (Vicar 1668–1701) the Halls of Langley claimed the North Aisle’s East end for their exclusive use, opposing Richard Child’s erection of a Pew in the Aisle in 1685. Child argued that other Parishioners were buried there, but though both men attracted support, the outcome is unknown.

Manning (although a Pluralist) probably resided, and so too did his successor Thomas Pocock (Vicar 1701–11), who rebuilt the Vicarage House.  Other 18th-century Vicars may have been less conscientious and generally employed Curates.  John Robinson (Vicar 1711–22) was Dean of Windsor and a Pluralist, while George Villiers (1723–48) was de jure 12th Earl of Buckingham, though he never used the Title.  He was probably resident in 1726–7 when the Church Tower partly collapsed and was rebuilt at the Parish’s expense; the initiative seems, however, to have been led by the Churchwardens & Parishioners (especially Rodolph Hobbs), & Villiers’ opposition to mortgaging Church Lands to pay for the work was ignored.  In 1736 he moved to Oxford on Medical Orders, complaining that he had contracted a ‘bad habit of body‘ from Chalgrove’s Tow situation. An unlicensed Curate was paid £30 a year to take Services twice on Sundays, using ‘some printed exposition’, while a large number’ of Communicants received Holy Communion 4 times a year.

Services remained unchanged under Richard Nash (Vicar 1749–57) and Paulo Tookie (1758–83), who resided, and alleged there was no Absenteeism or Nonconformity  His view was initially shared by Charles Ballard (Vicar 1783–1832), who lived in Chalgrove occasionally but moved to Henley before 1790, employing a Curate at £40 a year. Services were reduced to once on Sunday, and during the 1790s the number of Communicants halved to 20.  By 1800 (when Ballard left Chalgrove for Great Haseley) he was becoming more concerned about irregular attendance, and though Dissent was not yet established in the Parish, past neglect probably helped its emergence.
Since 1800
The Congregationalist James Raban (a Minister at Wallingford) held Services in private houses in Chalgrove in 1810–11, although according to Ballard (who thought Raban a Calvinist) attendance was low.  Over the following years Dissent increased, and by 1821 Chalgrove had a Chapel & Manse and a resident Minister, John Heafford.  Probably he was a Congregationalist, although Ballard considered most of the Parish’s Dissenters to be Wesleyans because ‘they did not unusually attend the Church’.  The Licensing of a Farmhouse for Religious Worship in 1835 suggests rival denominations, and by then the Chapel was used probably by Baptists, to whom Henry Lewingdon (d.1825) left a 10-year annuity of £10.  In 1847 it was taken over by Wesleyan Methodists, who remained there until a new Chapel was built in 1869.

The Anglican Church responded slowly, Charles Ballard remaining non-resident, and employing a succession of Curates at £80 a year to perform a single Sunday Service.  His more dynamic successor Robert French Laurence (Vicar 1832–85) added a Sunday Evening Service and increased Holy Communion to 6 times a year, but there were still only 20 Communicants, and in 1835 Laurence attended the Parish on Sundays only, leaving it ‘altogether neglected’ during the week.  The Bishop found him ‘sensible, but odd’, claiming that he had married ‘below himself, and by the 1850s he was at loggerheads with Parishioners, having attempted to ‘repress gross misconduct on the part of one of the leading inhabitants‘. A supporter of Parish Education, and later of the local Labourers’ Union, his unpopularity was reflected in relatively low attendances of 80–120 in the morning or afternoon and c.30 in the evening.  Laurence himself admitted that the Farmers did not attend ‘as they should, and this, of course, acts upon the lower classes‘.  Of the Wesleyans, he claimed that their number was ‘very much exaggerated‘, although on Census Sunday 1851 the Chapel was attended by 82 people in the morning and 100 in the evening, with support showing no sign of waning.

Laurence succeeded in increasing his congregation especially in the evening, but otherwise, his difficulties mounted. In 1857–60 he complained of poor relations with the Parish Churchwarden, the ‘anti-sacramental agitation‘ which inhibited the taking of Communion, and above all the Union with Berrick Salome, admitting in 1875 that his ‘unkind treatment‘ by a section of the Community had led him unsuccessfully to seek a change of Benefice.  As he aged and the Church fell into disrepair the Congregation dwindled, although at Berrick he enjoyed greater popularity, and at Chalgrove the Church’s restoration in his final years created a lasting legacy  Meanwhile the Methodists continued to thrive. Local Farmers donated Land, Labour, & Materials to the new Chapel, which following its opening in 1869 was attended by c.80 Parishioners and others from outside the Parish. Laurence suspected one of the Farmers of compelling his Labourers to attend, and in 1881 claimed that only 9 or 10 families were ‘wholly Dissenters’, many others attending both Church & Chapel.

After an incumbency of 53 years, Laurence was succeeded by George Blamire Brown (Vicar 1885–1902), who increased Services and attendances, provided new furnishings, and quickly raised the number of Communicants to 54.  The Union with Berrick Salome remained difficult to manage, however, and the main Sunday Services at Chalgrove continued at 11am & 6pm  Under John Howard Swinstead (Vicar 1902–12) a distinctly low-Church tone was adopted, perhaps in response to the Methodists and Religious Instruction was moved from the Village School to the Church following Nonconformist objections. Less controversially Swinstead raised funds for the new Village Hall, opened next to the Vicarage House in 1906 on land bequeathed by Charles Ballard.  Thomas Floyd (Vicar 1912–29) & Alphonse Dru (1929–37) maintained a regular pattern of Services, and from 1920 worked with the new Parochial Church Council to improve the fabric. A new Organ was installed in 1931.

Following Dru’s resignation, the Parish agreed to Christ Church’s proposal that the Rector of Newington should serve as Priest-in-charge, reflecting Chagrove’s then-small population.  The arrangement continued until 1949 when Albert Liddon became Vicar, holding Newington in Plurality from 1950Liddon (Vicar to 1977) witnessed Chalgrove’s dramatic growth in the 1960s and made improvements to the Church, including measures to prevent Vandalism.  His successors undertook extensive conservation work with local support, and in 2006 a Congregation of c.45 attended regularly on Sundays. A sung Eucharist continued in 2015, together with a weekday Communion & Family Service, the Vicar (Ian Cohen) being assisted by a Licensed Lay Minister (Robert Heath-Whyte).  The Methodist Chapel, probably saved from closure by the rise in population, celebrated its Centenary in 1969, and regularly attracted 25–30 Worshippers on Sunday Evenings.  A flourishing Sunday School met in the morning, for which a new room was built in 1993.  The Chapel remained open in 2015 as part of the Oxford Methodist Circuit, attended usually by 10–15 Villagers.


Church Architecture
Chalgrove’s spacious church dates chiefly from the 12th to 15th centuries and was sympathetically restored in 1881/4 by Joseph Morris & S S Stallwood of Reading. Built of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings, it comprises a 2-Bay Chancel, a 4-Bay double-Aisled Nave with South Porch, and a 3-Stage West Tower, whose top part was reconstructed following a partial collapse in 1726. The Nave’s & Chancel’s Steep tiled Roofs probably retain their original Pitch.  High-quality early 14th-century work in the Chancel, including a celebrated cycle of Wall Paintings, probably reflects Patronage by well-connected local Lords, particularly the Barentins.

The Nave may contain mid-12th-century Stonework, but the earliest dateable fabric is a Doorway of c.1190 in the base of the Tower, and the contemporary South Arcade, its Transitional Arches (with a single roll-moulding and continuous Hood) resting on round Piers with Square Bases & Waterleaf Capitals. A ½–Bay at the Eastern end was probably shortened when the present Chancel was built. The North Arcade was added c.1240, making it roughly contemporary with new building at the Plessis & Barentin Manor Houses, and includes 3 single-chamfered Arches on round Piers, one with a moulded Capital and the other carved with stiff-leaf.  Its East end, extending alongside the Chancel, includes a 13th-century Aumbry and a later Squint, giving a view of the High Altar.  A Piscina & Credence of similar date survive at the South Aisle’s East end.


The Chancel was rebuilt and extended c.1310–30, possibly by Thame Abbey as Corporate Rector.  Its lavish decoration, however, probably reflects patronage by Sir Drew Barentin (d.1329), whose successors until 1474 were buried & commemorated there.  The 3-light East window has reticulated tracery, and the Piscina & 3-seat Sedilia (under 4 cusped ogee Arches) are of high quality, possibly by Royal Craftsmen.  The wall paintings are contemporary and form one of the most complete Cycles in the Country. Arranged in 3 Tiers and depicted in red & yellow Ochre and Lamp-black mixed with white, they show scenes from the life of Christ and the Death & Assumption of the Virgin. The North wall includes a Tree of Jesse and portrays Christ’s Birth & Passion, the narrative culminating on the East wall with the Resurrection & Ascension. On the South wall opposite the Jesse Tree is a Last Judgement, followed by the Death & Burial of the Virgin, and concluded on the East wall with her Assumption & Coronation. The Focus suggests that the Feast of the Assumption (15th August) was the Church’s Patronal Festival from the Middle Ages, while in their progression from West to East the Paintings provided a Theatrical Backdrop to the Liturgy.  The scheme was probably extended through painted glass.

Around 1450 the North Aisle was remodelled & decorated with Wall Paintings, probably for Sir Drew Barentin (d,1453), who left Ornaments from his Private Oratory to ‘the Chapel newly repaired in Chalgrove Church, on the north side‘.  Painted Glass depicting 2 Angel Heads is probably contemporary, other mid-to-late 15th-century work including the South Porch, the South Aisle’s Crenellated Parapet, and Liturgical Texts added to the Chancel Wall Paintings.  The Chancel’s disrepair by the 1520s-30s may reflect the Barentins‘ departure or neglect by Thame Abbey, but Parishioners’ continued to invest in the Fabric and in St Catherine’s Altar, which stood possibly at the South Aisle’s East end. The Rood Loft & Altars were presumably removed and the Paintings whitewashed in the 1540s-50s.


Later Furnishings include the cup-shaped octagonal Font with a twisted Stem, previously dated to c.1660, but recently claimed to include 16th-century Heraldry and to have perhaps been recut from an earlier Bowl.  The Communion Rail & polygonal Oak Pulpit are 17th-century,  and the Church Clock (perhaps by a local Clockmaker) is dated 1699.  The Tower was partly blown down in 1726, and repaired by the Little Milton Mason Richard Belcher; 14th-century Bell-openings were retained, though the Crenellated Parapet & Pinnacles and round 2nd-Stage window were new additions.  Two Bells broken in the fall were recast in 1729.  Routine repairs were ordered in 1758,  the Clock was repaired in 1801 and further work was carried out c.1841/4, possibly by the Architect Thomas Rickman.  A Singers’ Gallery was mentioned in 1841, a Harmonium installed in the 1860s, and in 1858 the Whitewash was removed from the Chancel, revealing the Wall Paintings.

warpsgrovehouse1612By the 1870s the Church was in decay, and by 1881 it was unsafe, the North Arcade falling outwards and the Roofs dilapidated. The Architects Morris & Stallwood estimated costs of £1,500 to restore the Fabric, and another £500 to reseat the Nave and Aisles.  Work was completed in 1884, restoration of the Nave’s Arch-braced Roof involving removal of earlier Dormer windows. The Chancel Screen was removed in 1906, a Pipe Organ installed in 1931 & Electricity supplied in 1950, while in 1956 the Vestry was moved from the North Aisle to the South Aisle’s West end.  Its Panelling dates probably from the 18th century, and is inscribed with the Creed, Lord’s Prayer & Ten Commandments.  A side Chapel (dedicated to St James after the Demolished Church at Warpsgrove) replaced the former Vestry at the North Aisles East end.

Improvements to heating & lighting were carried out in 1967, and in 1974 Iron Gates were fitted to the Porch to prevent vandalism.  From the 1980s the Church was subject to regular repairs including conservation of the Wall Paintings, the work financed by the Church Estate, the PCC, and external Grants.  Projects included restoration of the Clock in 1995, reroofing of Nave & Aisles in 2002, installing Toilets at the base of the Tower in 2006/7, and rehanging the Bells in 2010, followed by a major restoration in 2015. The Churchyard was extended in 1898 & 1997.

Charities & Poor Relief
During the Middle Ages Thame Abbey (as Owner of the Rectory Estate) distributed 13s. 4d. a year to Parishioners in Memory of Edward II.  From the 16th century one-off Charitable Bequests to the Poor were made in cash and kind by Chalgrove’s wealthier Inhabitants, and a Poor Men’s Box was mentioned in 1566.  Roger Quatremain (d.1549) provided for 3 bushels of wheat to be distributed as loaves on Good Friday and All Saints’ day for 7 years, while Ralph Quatremain (d.1594) left 6d. to every Poor Person in the Parish.  17th-century Bequests ranged from 10s to £20, and a few of £2-£5 (in bread or cash) were made in the early 18th century, when Offertory Money, too, was distributed to the Poor.

Endowed Charities were established from the 1640s. In 1646 Joan Chibnall provided for gowns worth 18s to be given annually to 4 poor Widows or Old Maids, with another £3 distributed among the Poor in September following the Preaching of a Charity Sermon.  In 1664–5 John Hart left a £3 rent charge on Lands in Easington for apprenticing a Poor Boy, the sum being supplemented by a £5 Annuity given by Francis White in 1710, and implemented by Simon Whorwood Adeane (d.1719). During the 18th & 19th centuries a boy was Apprenticed once a sufficient sum was raised, as in 1786 when an Oxford Farrier was paid £16 for a 7-year Apprenticeship.  Chalgrove’s former Vicar John Wall (d.1666) gave 60% of the Rent from 13a in Benson to Poor Chalgrove Parishioners, and Alice Markham (Widow of Walls successor) added 2/3rds of the Rent from a further 3a, the remaining income going to Berrick Salome.  Finally, in 1718 Mary Smith provided for an Annual Charity Sermon on 1st May, when 20 loaves were distributed out of a Rent-charge on 9a in Chalgrove.  Another 10s was distributed in sixpences on the same day, raised from 2a in Berrick Salome donated by an unknown Benefactor.

Despite such Charities, the Parish’s Poor-Relief Costs were high, amounting to £187 in 1776 and an average of £295 a year in 1783–5.  Following a National pattern, Expenditure increased to £368 by 1803, when 74 people (including 49 children) received regular Out-Relief, and 26 occasional Relief, in all nearly a 5th of the population. Costs more than doubled to £782 in 1813, falling to £544 in 1815 when 28 people were relieved permanently and 39 occasionally, around 12% of the Population.  From 1816 Post-war slump increased Agricultural distress, raising expenditure to £939 in 1819 (c.33s per head of Population); thereafter, as Agriculture recovered, it fell to £499 in 1826, averaging c.23s per head over the whole decade.  Costs rose again in the 1830s, reaching £795 in 1834 when formal responsibility for Chalgrove’s Poor passed to the new Thame Poor Law Union.

All the Endowed Charities continued in 1871, raising a total of £64 12s a year for the Poor and £74 for the Church.  Beneficiaries included 2 Boys Apprenticed in 1848 to an Ickford Tailor and an Oxford Cordwainer, costing the Hart-White Charity £18 each.  A new Charity (producing £14 a year) was Founded in 1879 by the former Churchwarden Ferdinando Stevenson and in the 20th century Offertory Money was still being given to the Sick & Needy, while the Hart-White Charity Funded School Prizes.  In the 1960s the Poor’s Charities were Amalgamated to create the Chalgrove Relief in Need Charity, which in 1979 received £214 from an Endowment of 21a and in 2011 disbursed £1,113.  Mary Smiths Charity apparently remained separate, yielding £1 a year.  Several late 20th-century Charities supported the Villages Elderly Population, School, Scout Group, Women’s Institute & Recreation Ground (bought by the Parish Council in 1950).

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