The Church of St Mary Magdelene consists of a Chancel 27ft 7ins x 15ft 10ins; a Nave with Clearstory 42ft 6ins x 19ft 3ins; North & South Aisles 9ft 3ins & 8ft wide respectively; a South-West Tower 7ft 3ins Square, and a South Porch, all measurements being internal. Previous to the 14th century the Church appears to have consisted of an Aisleless Nave and a Chancel of the same size as at present, or nearly so. Aisles were added to the Nave in the 14th century, between 1325 & 1350, the North Aisle being probably the 1st to be built. If they had Predecessors no trace of them is now visible. The lower part of the Tower, which carries on the lines of the South Aisle and practically forms its Western Bay, belongs to the same Period. The Upper Stages are of a later date, and it may be that the work here was interrupted by the Black Death. The Chancel Arch was inserted towards the end of the 14th century, and at the beginning of the 15th century, another scheme of enlargement was taken in hand. The Tower was completed, a Clearstory added to the Nave, and the North wall of the North Aisle was taken down and the Aisle widened, the Junction of the 14th & 15th-century work being still clearly visible at both ends of the Aisle. Up to this time the Aisles were probably roofed by an extension of the high-pitched Nave Roof, the line of which is to be seen on the East wall of the Tower; but at the date of the widening of the North Aisle, the new North wall of which was built higher than the old one, a Low-Pitched Roof was put on the Aisle, and at the same time the South Aisle walls were raised and a similar Roof constructed on this side of the Church. The Chancel seems to have been rebuilt or remodelled about the same time, and its windows and those of the Aisles belong to this date. In modern times the Tower has been largely restored and an outer Steep-Pitched Roof put on the Nave, but traces of both the older Gables are to be seen on the West wall of the Nave and less clearly on the East wall.
The Chancel is lit by five 3-light 15th-century windows, one to the East and 2 in the North & South walls. On either side of the East window is a modern Canopied Image Niche designed from fragments found here and now preserved in a glass case in the North Aisle. At the East End of the South wall is a small 15th-century Piscina, and in the Western Jambs of the North-West & South-West windows are the openings of Squints from both Aisles. The Chancel Arch is of 2 Orders, continuously moulded with a hollow chamfer and a double ogee and irregular half-octagonal moulded Capitals.
The Nave is of 4-Bays. The North Arcade, earlier in date than the other, has Piers of 4 half-round Shafts with hollow chamfers between and moulded capitals and bases. The Arches are 2-centred and of 2 moulded orders, with labels having grotesque drips over the Piers, while at a considerable height above the Crown of each Arch is a 2-light clearstory window of 15th-century date with a segmental head, trefoiled lights, and a deep external splay, the glass line being nearly in the middle of the wall. The South Arcade is of the same detail, except in regard to the Capitals, which are deeper and of a somewhat later section. This Arcade is of 3-Bays only, on account of the position of the Tower at the West end of the South Aisle, and there are also only 3 South Clearstory windows. The West window of the Nave is of 14th-century date, with 3 trefoiled lights and flowing Tracery of late and rather clumsy design.
The North Aisle has a 3-light 15th-century east window, of the same design as those of the Chancel, and 2 similar windows in the North wall, between which is the North Door. This is of 14th-century detail and must have been moved outwards when the Aisle was widened. There is no West window to this Aisle.
The South Aisle has an East and a South window like those of the North Aisle. At the East end of the South Wall is a 14th-century Piscina with a cinquefoiled head of 2 Orders and a shelf. The South door is of the same date, with plain chamfered Jambs and 2-centred head, and opens to a contemporary South Porch with a moulded outer Arch, small square-headed windows on East & West, and Stone benches.
In the Western Bay of the South Aisle stands the Tower, its Eastern Arch being of 2 wave-moulded Orders which die into widely chamfered Responds. The Tower has, in its lowest Stage, 2 small Lancets very much modernised, and is of 3 Stages with an embattled Parapet, its external masonry being in great measure modern. The 2-light Belfry windows are very small and have above them 2 quatrefoiled openings on each face, which are entirely in modern stonework.
The Woodwork of the Church is of no special interest. The Nave Roof, resting on Stone Corbels carved with Shield-bearing Angels, is of 15th-century style, with moulded tie-beams and carved brackets beneath them, and in the South Porch is a good Roof with 15th-century detail, ornamented with Roses and a Shield of the Hampden Arms.
There is also a 17th-century Communion Table, and within the Altar Rails 2 handsome carved Oak Chairs of about the same date. The Font, in the North Aisle, is circular and of 13th-century date with a circular moulded Stem and cup-shaped fluted Bowl, with a band of ornament around the upper edge. It belongs to a type developed from the Local 12th-century form.
On the South Wall of the Chancel is a Purbeck slab to Elizabeth wife of John Hampden, 1634, daughter and sole heiress of Edmund Symeon of Pyrton in Oxfordshire. In the South Aisle is a Wall Monument to Richard Hampden, 1662, and his wife Anne Lane, 1674, with a Shield bearing the Hampden Arms, impaling Party Azure & Gules 3 Saltires Argent, which are the Arms of Lane.
In the Chancel Floor are the following Brasses:-
The Figures of John Hampden, Esq, 1496, and his wife Elizabeth Sidney, with 4 sons and 6 daughters. On the Slab are 5 Shields:
(1) Quarterly, 1st Hampden, 2nd and 3rd, Argent a chief gules and therein 2 Harts’ heads caboshed or, for Popham, 4th, 6 Lions;
(2) Hampden impaling Or a pheon azure, for Sidney; (3) & (4) Sidney; and (5) Hampden.
Griffith Hampden, 1591, and Anne Cave his 2nd wife, 1594. An inscription plate without Figures. On a Shield are the following Coats: Quarterly, 1st, Hampden; 2nd, Popham; 3rd, 3 Lions; 4th, Hampden with a border azure for Hampden of Great Kimble; impaling: Quarterly, 1st & 4th Azure fretty argent, for Cave; 2nd & 3rd Ermine a bend with 3 Boars’ Heads razed thereon.
William Hampden, 1597, son of Griffith Hampden, and Anne his wife; no figures. On a shield of 12 Quarters: 1st, Hampden; 2nd, Popham; 3rd, 6 Lions; 4th, A Lion; 5th, 3 Spear-heads; 6th, A cheveron between 3 fleurs-de-lis; 7th, Sidney; 8th, Cave; 9th, Ermine on a bend 3 boars’ heads razed; 10th, 3 cheverons; 11th, A Lion; 12th, A Lion.
The figures of live sons and 3 daughters, with no inscription, but a Shield with Azure 3 Horses’ heads cut off at the neck with their bridles or impaling Hampden, which Shield commemorates the Match of Sir Jerome Horsey, Knight, with Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Hampden and Anne Cave.
The Figures of Sir John Hampden, Knight, 20th December 1553, Elizabeth Savage his 1st wife, Philippa Wilford his 2nd wife, & 3 daughters. There are 3 Shields: (1) Quarterly, 1st, Hampden; 2nd, Sidney; 3rd, Popham; 4th, 6 Lions; impaling: Argent a pale indented sable, for Savage; (2) The Quartered Coat as above; (3) The same, impaling Gules a cheveron between 3 Leopards’ heads or with a Ring on the cheveron, for Wilford.
An Inscription Plate to William Hampden, Lord of Emmington, Oxfordshire, 1612.
On the North Wall of the Chancel is a large Monument set up by Robert, afterwards 1st Viscount Hampden, in 1754, bearing a Relief of the Battle of Chalgrove Field, at which John Hampden was mortally wounded. Above is a Tree hung with 16 Shields showing the Alliances of the Hampden Family.
The Grave which is said to be that of John Hampden was opened in 1828 in order to test the accuracy of the Accounts of his death, but the results were not conclusive.
There are 3 Bells, the Treble by Taylor, 1906, and the other 2 of 1625 by Ellis Knight.
The Church Plate consists of a Chalice of 1805, a Paten of 1804, and a Plated Flagon and 2nd Paten.
The only old Book of Registers contains Baptisms from 1537 to 1812, burials 1557 to 1812, and Marriages 1557 to 1752. The Marriage Register for 1752 to 1812 seems to be missing.
The Church of St Mary Magdalen is a Rectory, the Advowson of which was held by the Hampdens and under the Will of John Hampden passed to the Trevors in 1754 and to the Hobart’s in 1824. The Earl of Buckinghamshire is the Patron of the Living at the present day.