St George, Kencot, Oxfordshire

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Feature Sets (3)


Kencot is a village about five miles S of Burford. The church lies to the W of the village and must originally have been a two-cell structure. The chancel dates to the 13thc, although it was largely rebuilt in the 19thc, whilst the nave is basically Romanesque. There are two Romanesque doorways to the S and N sides of the nave; in the chancel, the pointed arch retains the original imposts.


The Domesday Survey records that 'Chenetone' was held by Roger d'Oilly, being his uncle Robert tenant-in-chief. The manor valued £6. In the 1160s Roger d'Oilly mortgaged Kencot to a London financier (original deed, P.R.O. E210/5199). In the early 13thc the d'Oillys still held the presentation of the church (Fisher (1970), 18, 21).


Exterior Features


N doorway

The N doorway is flat-headed and blocked. It features a plain monolithic lintel of irregular tympanum shape. Both the jambs and the lintel are chamfered. The imposts have a hollow chamfer below.

S doorway

The S doorway is of one order and consists of a round-headed arch framing a carved tympanum. The bases feature a double torus and triangular corner spurs; the R base is in better condition. On the sides, detached cylindrical nook shafts have a plain roll necking. On the L, the cushion capital is decorated with a shield on the S face bearing a two-stepped recessed panel, and there are setting-out lines for a similar panel on the E face. The R capital is similar to the L one, but with the recessed panels on the shields complete on both faces. The imposts have a chamfer below an upright decorated with a frieze of chip-carved saltire crosses within squares. In the arch there is a large edge roll moulding below a hollow, with a fillet between them. Only a few fragments remain of the label, which must have been chamfered on the inner side and with the face decorated as the impost uprights.

depth of tympanum 0.24m
Height of opening 2.06m
Height of tympanum 0.64m
Width of opening 1.00m
Width of tympanum 1.02m

The tympanum is monolithic, and is carved in low relief with a centaur holding a bow and shooting an arrow down the dragon's throat. Along the lower edge, a chip-carved frieze is found, and this is continuous with the imposts. Above the centaur is the label 'SAGITTARIUS' in a relatively developed Lombard script, and this is perhaps a later addition. 

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch jambs

The jambs of the chancel arch are of one square order. The arch is a later replacement.

E face

The e face is square, with chamfered plinths and imposts. The imposts have been dressed back on the soffit face, but on the E face they run back along the wall to the N and S walls of the chancel. The imposts are hollow-chamfered; on the S upright, the S side has a frieze of chip-carved saltires-in-squares above a shallow roll moulding, whilst the N side has the roll moulding only.

W face

On the W face there are a pair of engaged nook shafts with damaged bases, but probably they were similar to those of the S door - traces remain of corner spurs. Both capitals are cushioned with a plain roll necking. The imposts run on N side as on N side of E face, on S side as on S side of E face; they also run back along the N and S walls of the nave.


The d'Oilly connection is interesting in view of the depiction of the centaur and the label 'SAGITTARIUS', who also appears on the font at Hook Norton, another d'Oilly church. A drawing by J. C. Buckler dating to the 19thc - reproduced in Fisher (1970), 21 - shows what seems to be the original doorway, with three elaborate triple C-strap hinges, but does not show the inscription. A further d'Oilly connection is between the dedications to St George, at Kencot and also at St George's chapel attached to Oxford Castle.

The S doorway and the chancel arch are probably from the same workshop as the rather more proficient work at Westwell, also near Burford, which has the same impost moulding and decoration.


  • A. S. T. Fisher, The History of Kencot, Oxfordshire, Burford 1970, 18, 21.

  • J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Harmondsworth 1974, 667-8.

  • Victoria County History: Oxfordshire, vol. 15, London 2006, 167-7.

External view from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 254 048 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Oxfordshire
now: Oxfordshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
medieval: St George
now: St George
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Janet Newson, John Blair, Nicola Coldstream, Sarah Blair 
Visit Date
31 July 2014