St Nicholas, Ickford, Buckinghamshire

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Feature Sets (4)


Ickford is a village in the east of central Buckinghamshire, 11 miles SW of Aylesbury near the Oxfordshire border, formed at this point by the river Thame.  The village is in the wooded, rolling pasture-land of the Thame floodplain, and the church is outside the village centre at the end of a lane to the W.  A large stone-built house, The Grange, stands to the S of the church.

The church has an aisled nave without a clerestory, a S porch, chancel and W tower.  The nave has a wooden W gallery added by J. O. Scott in 1906-07, which obscures much of the c.1200 tower arch.  The nave roof has heavy crossbeams; the westernmost with an original wooden corbel supporting its N end, carved with low broad horizontal rolls alternating with thin double steps.  The chancel arch dates from the end of the 12thc or, more likely, the start of the 13thc, as do the 3-bay arcades.  The S nave doorway contains some sculpture of this phase too, but was remodelled in the 15thc or 16thc.  There is a round-headed lancet in the N aisle wall, and the N doorway is completely plain and round-headed.  The chancel is largely early-13thc, with plain pointed lancets, a S low-side window with a cusped-headed window above it and a plain pointed S priest’s doorway.  The E window is 3-light reticulated; a 14thc replacement.  The W tower is unbuttressed with a saddleback roof and dates largely from the 13thc, although the N and S bell-openings are 14thc reticulated.  The church did not receive a major restoration until 1906-07, when it was restored by John Oldrid Scott & Son.  Recorded here are the tower and chancel arches, the nave arcades, the S doorway and the plain font.


In 1086 the monks of Grestain in Normandy held a manor of 6 hides in Ickford from the Count of Mortain.  This manor also contained meadow for 6 plough-teams, and was held before the Conquest by Ulf, a man of Earl Harold.  A second manor of 4 hides of ploughland with meadow for 4 plough-teams was held by Richard from Miles Crispin.

In 1226 the Guardians of Geoffrey de Appleton held Ickford, and it remained in this family until c.1313, passing soon afterwards to the atte Water family, who had been sub-tenants of the Appletons.  By the mid-14thc , several estates had been combined under the name of Great Ickford Manor, held by William atte Water.  His son John alienated the manor to John, Lord Grey of Rotherfireld, who granted him a house and 47 acres to be held for life at an annual rent of a rose.

The church was first noted in 1194-95, when Helias was accused of robbing its priest.  It was held by the Appletons in 1226, but in 1262 Thomas de Appleton granted the advowson to Thomas de Valognes, who also held Shabbington, and thereafter the advowson descended with that of Shabbington.

The parish is now in the benefice of Worminghall with Ickford, Oakley and Shabbington.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

The doorway was remodelled, probably in the 15-16thc, retaining, in the 2nd order, the original late-12thc nook-shafts and bases, one of the capitals and probably the arch voussoirs.

Height of opening (ignoring step) 2.18m
Width of opening 1.28m
1st order

Continuous with an angle roll.  The arch is broad and 4-centred.

2nd order

The arch is pointed and segmental, meeting the imposts at an acute angle, and the area between this and the 1st order arch is filled with irregular ashlar blocks.  The arch has an angle roll and face hollow.  The W capital is bell-shaped, the bell carved with four vertical, regularly-spaced tapered fillets in relief, perhaps intended for pointed leaves but very worn. It has a plain roll necking, largely eroded away with a small mortar repair that extends onto the shaft below.  At the top of the bell is a double-roll abacus and above this, carved from the same block, is an integral roll impost.  Apart from the detailed damage described above the capital is generally worn.  The E capital is a late-medieval piece, square in plan from necking to impost.  Above the roll necking the faces of the bell are concave, and the impost has a lower roll, quirked hollow chamfered faces and a top roll.  The capitals are carried on detached, en-delit nook-shafts with central shaft-rings of triple-roll profile, the central roll projecting more than those above and below.  The W shaft-ring has a loss to the central roll; the E shaft-ring is largely broken away.  Both bases are waterholding with a broad bottom roll and a slender necking.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Pointed, 2 orders to W, 2 to E jamb, 1 to E arch

1st order (shared)

Engaged half-shafts on modern roll bases with thin roll neckings, carried on chamfered octagonal plinths.  The N capital is trumpet-scalloped with three cones on the front face and two on each side face, and depressed shields. The impost is quirked hollow chamfered, the angles chamfered in plan.  The capital has been damaged, probably for the insertion of a screen.  The damage affects the main (S) face where there are losses to the necking, scallops and impost.  The S capital has a concave bell decorated in relief with a row of tall lilies, extending from necking to impost.  There are three on each side face and four on the main face.  The necking and impost have the same profiles as on the N capital, and there is similar damage.  The arch has an angle roll and face hollow towards the W and a chamfered angle towards the E.

2nd order (E face)

There is no 2nd order arch, but the jambs are as those facing W.

2nd order (W face)

The jamb is plain with a chamfered angle, no chamfer stops and imposts as the 1st order.  The arch has an angle roll between face and soffit hollows, and a label with a thin angle roll, a deep hollow and a heavy outer quadrant roll.  It returns along the nave wall at each end.

Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

Pointed, 2 orders.  This is largely obscured by the wooden W gallery, but the arch profile is visible at the apex, and the 1st-order arch supports and their capitals are visible under the gallery.  The arch has two plain chamfered orders to E and W, with a roll label on the E face towards the nave.  The 1st order capitals are carried on slender, detached en-delit shafts.  Only the N base is visible, and is waterholding with a broad bottom roll and a slender necking, like those on the S doorway.  The S base is concealed by a cupboard.  The N capital is circular in plan with a concave bell, crudely carved in bold relief with a row of vertical spatulate leaves with nailhead along the spines.  They extend from the roll necking to the top of the bell, where there is a thin roll and a quirked hollow chamfer.  The S capital is similar but without the nailhead ornament.



1. S arcade

S arcade, 3 bays, pointed. The arcade is carried on cylindrical piers with engaged half columns at the E and W end.  The arches are of two chamfered orders to nave and aisle, with roll labels on both faces. The capitals and imposts are circular in plan.

E respond

The respond base has a chamfer below a roll, the capital has a roll necking, a thin concave bell overhung by the abacus, which has two-stepped fillets, and an impost with a bottom roll, a quirked hollow chamfer and a plain face.

Pier 1

The base is as the E respond, the capital simply carved with a roll necking, a tall concave bell and quirked chamfered impost.

Pier 2

The base is attic, and the capital has a concave bell carved in bold relief with a row of simple leaves all connected at the base by looped stems above the roll necking.  The impost has a deep hollow overhung by a two-step face.

W respond

The base has a chamfer with an upper roll and a roll necking.  The capital has a roll necking, a thin concave bell with a quirk and a vertical face above it, and a plain chamfered impost.

2. N arcade

As S arcade in general, but slightly later and therefore not fully described.  All capitals are moulded.




In the S aisle, alongside pier 2.  The font has an almost cylindrical bowl, very slightly wider at the top that the bottom, with chamfered upper and lower rims.  It stands on a cylindrical stem made of ashlar blocks, and this on a plain chamfered base.  The bowl has been extensively restored, but is substantially medieval.  It is lead lined and has rim repairs at W and N, and a large inserted repair at the E.  The W section of the bowl is best preserved.  The stem is modern, but the base appears original.

Ext. diameter of bowl at rim 0.70m
Height of bowl 0.47m
Int. diameter of bowl at rim 0.49m
Overall height of font 1.00m


The work recorded here, including the plain font, probably comes from a single campaign at the end of the 12thc or the beginning of the 13thc.  At nearby Shabbington is a loose trumpet scallop capital, similar to that on the chancel arch here, suggesting that the same workshop was active at both sites.


  • N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 409-11.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 1 (south). London 1912, 214-18.

  • Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. IV (1927), 56-61.

Exterior from SE
Exterior from N
Nave N wall from NW
Interior to E
Nave roof, W crossbeam
Nave roof, W crossbeam, N corbel


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 646 074 
now: Buckinghamshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Buckinghamshire
now: Oxford
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Nicholas
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
06 July 2007