St Nicholas, Idbury, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


The church consists of a nave, a chancel, N aisle and NW tower. The only Romanesque feature is a doorway, now blocked, re-set in the N wall of the N aisle. 


Idbury is listed in the Domesday Survey as a settlement worth £12, and held of the king by Ralph de Mortimer and re-gifted to Oidelard. No church is mentioned in the Survey but a chapel must have existed by the 12thc. In the late 11thc Idbury was presumably dependent on the church at Swinbrook, perhaps functioning as a chapel of Shipton under Wychwood and Brixworth - all at the time attached to the Salisbury cathedral.


Exterior Features


Nave north doorway

The door has been re-set and blocked. This is a round-headed doorway, with tympanum, of two orders. A lower rounded arch, almost certainly secondary, cuts up through the tympanum and its integral lintel, reducing the latter to a pair of corbels.

L capital
Height including necking 0.21m
Height without necking 0.18m
Max. width of each face 0.19m
R capital
Height including necking 0.195m
Height without necking 0.16m
Max. width of each face 0.19m
Height of opening - as existing, to top of cut-out head 2m
Height of opening - to bottom of inferred lintel 1.59m
Width of opening 0.96m
1st order

The jambs are plain and square. The tympanum is monolithic, covered with small round pock-marks drilled in a regular, diagonal grid pattern. The tympanum is in one piece with the lintel (all but the ends are now cut away). The lintel remains have a chip-carved frieze of star-in-square motifs with pellets in the quarters, and a strip of sawtooth above. In the arch, lateral chevrons on the face, single ridge flanked on outer side by double fillet, cogwheel edge.

2nd order

Detached shafts (L round, R octagonal) are covered with a chevron pattern formed of shallow ridges. The bases are missing or buried. On both sides the impost, which continues around the soffit face, has a chamfered lower arris with saw-tooth, and on the upright a chip-carved frieze of star-in-square motifs with pellets in the angles.

L capital: square, with a single scallop, the shields recessed to form D-shaped fields; plain roll necking.

R capital: square, with a double scallop, the shields recessed to form D-shaped fields; plain roll necking.

In the arch, a large nook-roll is flanked by a shallow hollow and a band of sawtooth.


This has a chamfered lower arris, and on the upright a chip-carved frieze of star-in-square motifs.


There seems to be no substance in Hoffmann's statement, repeated by Pevsner, that the 14thc chancel arch contains earlier remains.

The chevron in the arch of the 1st order may be compared with the re-used chevron voussoirs at Bampton.


  • N. Pevsner and J. Sherwood, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 657-8.

  • Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, XIX (texts in progress available online: https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/sites/default/files/work-in-progress/idbury_relig_web.pdf - last checked July 2018).

General view of church from north-east


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 236 201 
now: Oxfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
medieval: Lincoln
now: Oxford
now: St Nicholas
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
John Blair, Nicola Coldstream, Sarah Blair 
Visit Date
05 November 1993, 19 June 2014