Saunderton Church


Parish Church of St Mary & St. Nicholas, was entirely re-built in 1888–91, but much of the original material, flint rubble with freestone dressings, was re-used; many of the doorways and windows were re-set, and are chiefly of early 14th-century date.

Before Restoration

The Parish Church consists of a Chancel, Nave with a Western Bellcote of Wood, and South Porch.

The Chancel has, in the North wall, at the East end, a window apparently of early 14th-century material, re-used; it is of 2 pointed Lights with a pierced double spandrel in a 2-centred head, and a moulded external Label; near the West end is a 15th-century window of one trefoiled Light, the head cut out of one stone. In the South wall, at the East end, is a 14th-century window, similar to that opposite, and near the West end is a much restored window of 2 pointed Lights, the heads were probably of the 16th century, with a segmental Label made up from a pointed Label of early 14th-century date: in the same wall is a Priest’s Doorway, of early 14th-century date, now blocked; the pointed head is of one moulded order, with an external Label.  The Nave has, in the North wall, a few old stones in the Jambs and Mullions of the Easternmost window, and the North Doorway, now blocked, is of early 14th-century date, of one chamfered order, with pointed head and Label, much restored. The South Doorway is of early 14th-century date, and has continuously moulded Jambs and pointed head with an external Label which has head-stops.  In the Jambs and Mullions of the lower window in the West wall are a few old stones. The West Bell-cot has a Mediæval framework.

Two early 14th-century windows are reset near the East end of the Chancel in the North & South walls, each of 2 Lights in a pointed head with an external Label, and at the North-West there is a single trefoiled Light of 15th-century date. The window at the South-West of the Chancel, of 2 pointed Lights, has been much restored.  The heads of the Lights probably date from the 16th century, while the Label, which seems to have been originally made for a pointed opening and is of a typical 14th-century section, has been adapted to its present segmental form. The remaining features in this wall are an early 14th-century Doorway, which is now blocked, and a Piscina with a moulded trefoiled head and a Stone shelf, probably of a later date in the same century.

The Easternmost window in the North wall and the lower window in the West wall of the Nave contain a few old Stones in the Jambs and Mullions.  The North and South Doorways are both of the early 14th century.

The Framework of the Bellcote is of Medieval date.

FontThe early 13th-century Font has a fluted and moulded Bowl, around which is a band of stiff-leaved Foliage and stands on a circular Base.  The Chancel Rails are made up of the remains of 2 Screens, and on each side of the central opening have trefoiled heads of 4-Bays with pierced Spandrels cut from a single plank. The North Bays date from the late 14th century and the South from the early 15th century; over the latter is some woodwork with early 17th-century carving. On the Altar platform and in the Organ Chamber are a number of Yellow and Red Mediaeval Tiles of a variety of designs. The only early Monument remaining is a 15th-century Brass of the half-length Figure of a Woman on the South wall of the Nave with inscription to Isabella Saunderton, daughter of William Saunderton and sister of Bernard Saunderton.

There are 3 Bells, all Cast by Alexander Rigby, Stamford, Lincs, 1699.

The Plate includes a small Cup of 1691 and a Cover; both have the same maker’s mark, but the Cover has no date letter.

The Registers begin in 1728.

Bells: 3, by Alexander Rigby, 1699.
Brass: In Nave—on South wall, of the half-figure of a woman, 15th-century.
Font: circular, with fluted and moulded bowl, having a band of stiff-leafed foliage, circular base, early 13th-century, late example of the ‘Aylesbury‘ type.
Piscina: in Chancel, with trefoiled, moulded head, stone shelf, with narrow groove below it, foiled bowl, cut back flush with the wall, probably late 14th-century.
Plate: includes small silver Cup of 1691, and cover without date-letter, but with the same maker’s mark as on Cup.
Royal Arms: with crowned and crested helm and supporters, late 17th-century, painted.
Screens: 2, remains, now made into Chancel Rails; on each side of Entrance, trefoiled heads of 4-Bays, cut from a single heavy plank, with pierced trefoiled spandrels, North Bays, c.1380, South Bays, c.1400; over South Bays, some carved woodwork, early 17th-century.
Tiles: on Altar Platform, 4 in. square, 5 simple patterns, in yellow and red, 2 designs form part of a larger design; in the Organ-chamber, similar, much worn, same patterns and 2 others; Mediæval.
Condition—Good, re-built; Font much worn.

Before 1215 there were 2 Churches in Saunderton, which gave their names to the Manors of St Mary & St Nicholas. The Advowson of each Church appertained to the Manor in which it was situated and followed the same descent.  Both Churches were valued at £5 6s 8d yearly in 1291.  On the partition of the Manor of St Nicholas, about 1235, the Advowson of that Church appears to have been divided between the holders of the Dayrells’ & Bromes portions, who Presented in turn.  With Bromes it had come under the same Ownership as Saunderton St Mary before 1459,  and the last mention of it that has been found occurs in 1528.  The Rectories were United to form the present Rectory of St Mary & St Nicholas, valued at £14 0s 0¼d in 1535.  The Advowson of Saunderton Church was sold by Charles Lord Dormer in 1726 to the President and Fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, who are the present Owners.

In 1806 the Rector was awarded a 5th of the Arable Land in Saunderton and a 9th of the remainder, exclusive of the Woodlands, in lieu of the Great and Small Tithes.

In 1548 the Site of the Church House in Saunderton, which had been given for an Obit, was worth yearly 4d.  It was Granted in Free Socage in 1554 to William Walton and Jeremiah Hally.

There are apparently no Endowed Charities in this Parish.

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