St George, Kelmscott, Oxfordshire

Download as PDF

Feature Sets (4)


This is a small church of cruciform plan. The nave, N aisle and probably chancel are of Transitional style, from c. 1190. The transepts were added c. 1260. Romanesque features are the late 12thc S doorway, an arch in the N wall of the chancel, the N arcade of four bays, the tube font, and the capital reused as a piscina.


Kelmscott belongs to the Shill Valley and Broadshire benefice. The settlement of Kelmscott belonged to the estate of Broadwell and is not mentioned in a separate entry in the Domesday Book. A chapel, dependent on Broadwell parish church, was established at Kelmscott sometime between the late 11thc and 1200 (VCH, 140). The chapel existed until 1430, by then dedicated to St George.


Exterior Features


1. Nave, S doorway

Round-headed arch, of one order. Jambs are of plain irregularly-sized blocks with chamfered corners, no bases. Impost blocks are plain, squared, with chamfered corners and a hollow-chamfered lower edge. The arch is plain and chamfered arch with label of two round mouldings (bigger outer and smaller inner moulding) separated by a concave moulding. Above the arch, there is a worn corbel-like shape that might represent two joint human heads.

Height of doorway 1.97m
Width of doorway 0.90m

2. Chancel, N wall, blocked doorway

At the W end of the N chancel wall, on the interior, a part of a blocked round-headed doorway is visible. Only half the arch remains, with plain voussoirs. It appears to connect with a blocked door on the N transept, but the date and purpose are unclear.

Interior Features



N arcade

Arcade of four bays, c. 1200, with round-headed arches. Arches are plain with broad concave chamfers on both sides. Responds and piers sit on plain round bases, water-holding with spurs, on square plinths. Piers are round and coursed. The neckings are plain, round or chamfered. All capitals have varying Transitional foliage, and octagonal moulded imposts above, with a vertical face and a strongly concave chamfered element below.  Hoodmoulds have a narrow roll moulding on the inner side and a wide roll on the outer side. The heads in the three spandrels are a 13thc addition.

E respond, capital

The impost is damaged. The bell shows upright leaves with tops divided and curling inwards from lightly carved central vein. This and other veins are painted red, with traces of red paint between the leaves. Leaves are of equal size and spacing.

Pier 1, capital

Broad leaves have a central vein and inward-turned tops, as E respond, with those on each angle projecting further like volutes. Each is interspersed with horizontally projecting pointed leaves.

Pier 2, capital

This capital has trilobed indented leaves, three per octagonal side, blowing towards the left, on broad indented stems.

Pier 3, capital

This shows trumpet scallops flaring out into raised horseshoe shapes, three to each side of the octagon.

W respond, capital

Trumpet scallops, as on pier 3, but linked at their tops by trilobed leaves.



Tub font

The font is located in the NW corner of the nave. It is a plain limestone bucket font, c. 1200. The bowl is slightly tapered and deeply chamfered at the base to fit a short stem, with a roll moulding at the top and bottom. The stem sits on a moulded sloping base on a circular step.

External diameter of bowl 0.73 m
Height of font 0.49 m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.54 m
Total height of font 1.02 m

Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


In the chancel, to the R of the altar, there is a piscina housed in a later recess. It is formed from a reused scalloped capital, with a moulded abacus of 5/8 of an octagon, with a round moulded necking below. Top surface is damaged.


The decorated capitals of the N nave arcade can be compared with similar arcades at Langford and Little Faringdon, Oxfordshire, both nearby, and all were probably executed by the same masons.

The capital reused for the piscina is of similar octagonal type to those in the N arcade.


  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 665-6.

  • Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, XVII, 111-145.

Exterior view from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 249 994 
now: Oxfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxford
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St George
medieval: St George
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Janet Newson, Nicola Coldstream 
Visit Date
17 September 2013, 19 August 2014