St. Peter's Church in Cassington, Oxfordshire, was founded in the early 12th century. It was long under the jurisdiction of Eynsham Abbey and served by ministers from Christ Church, Oxford. The well-preserved and well-restored church retains its single nave and many original Norman elements.
History of the Church of St Peter
Cassington church was founded c.1120 by Geoffrey de Clinton. It lay within the parish of Eynsham abbey, which retained burial rights (meaning an annual payment to the abbey until the Dissolution) and took half the offerings made on St. Peter's Day.
The church was remodelled in the early 14th century, with an upper stage and spire being added to the tower (1318), new windows inserted in the nave and east wall of the chancel, and the north porch built. The work was financed by Lady Montacute.
During the English Civil War, Cassington was a royalist centre where other royalist clergy took refuge.
From the late 17th century to the mid-19th century, most of the vicars of Cassington were chaplains of Christ Church, Oxford who lived in college, spending at most one or two nights a week in Cassington. In practice many services were taken by curates, by other clergy from the university, or by neighboring incumbents. The curates usually lived in Oxford and were poorly paid.
Thomas Forster, vicar 1824-67, although non-resident, took a considerable interest in the parish. He conducted the first restoration of the church in 1841-2 and played an important part in the establishment of a school in 1852.
Further restorations were undertaken under G.F. Bodley in 1876 and 1901. In 1876, the work included rebuilding the top of the tower, renewing the floor, repairing the chancel walls and roof, renovating the seats, placing canopied 17th-century stalls from Christ Church under the tower, and removing the ceilings in the nave and chancel. In 1901 the nave roof and windows were repaired, the north porch was restored, and a vestry was built on the south side of the chancel.
In 1980 the benefice was united with that of Freeland; in 1985 it was transferred to Eynsham.
What to See at the Church of St Peter
Cassington Church is comprised of an aisleless nave, chancel, north and south porches, and a central tower with steeple. A corbel-table of carved heads circles the entire building at the roofline. All these features but the steeple and north porch (both added 1318) survive from the original (c.1120) church.
The south door has an arch with roll-moldings and jamb shafts with cushion capitals. The north door has a plain inset tympanum and plain jambs.
Inside, the walls of the nave and chancel with four consecration crosses and the stone groined vaulting in the chancel all date from c.1120. There are traces of 14th-century wall paintings in the jambs of the east nave windows and a fragment of a 15th-century painted Last Judgment.
Four windows survive from the early 1100s: three on the north of the nave and chancel and one on the south. The west window, the east window, and the two easternmost windows of the nave date from the early 1300s.
The glass in the east window has a roundel with the arms of the see of York from after 1515; it is probably from the glass for Wolsey at Christ Church.
The north window has a roundel with the story of Joseph (16th cent. Flemish), two roundels with deacon saints (14th century), a head of Christ (14th century), and a shield of the see of Oxford for Richard Corbet, Bishop of Oxford (1628-32).
The plain, cyclindrical Norman font is early 12th-century. The screen has a 15th-century frame but is mostly modern.
The bench-ends in the nave are plain and very rustic; they may be 15th-century.The choir stalls in the chancel are Jacobean in style and have canopies from Christ Church, Oxford.
There are six bells, the earliest dating from 1640. The faceless clock is early 18th-century.
Quick Facts on the Church of St Peter
|Names:||Cassington Church · Cassington St Peter · Church of St Peter · St Peter's Church|
|Categories:||parish churches; Grade I listed buildings|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.792280° N, 1.342038° W|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Church of St Peter|
- Personal visit (exterior only; May 20, 2007)
- Nikolaus Pevsner and Jennifer Sherwood, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Yale University Press, 2002), 522-23.
- Cassington Church - British History Online
- Cassington, St. Peter - A Church Near You
- Photos of the Church of St Peter - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Church of St Peter, Cassington
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