The Parish Church of All Saints in Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, dates from 1180. It is an attractive village church featuring Norman zigzags and figurative carvings in the tower crossing and west porch.
History of the Church of All Saints
The present church in Cuddesdon was built in about 1180 over the foundations of an earlier 12th-century church. It originally had only a single nave; the side aisles were added in 1240. The 14th century saw the roofs of the aisles raised and the addition of the south porch The chancel was rebuilt in the late 14th century and maybe again about 1500.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1538-41), the church was no longer under the care of Abingdon Abbey and began to fall into decay. It was rescued around 1630, when a local builder supervised repairs to the upper part of the tower, the south wall of the south transept, the nave roof, and the pews.
From the 17th century to the present day, the Anglican bishops of Oxford have lived in Cuddesdon. Many of their memorials can be seen in the parish church.
Extensive repairs were made in 1849 by Benjamin Ferrey and in 1851 by G.E. Street, Oxford's diocesan architect. Street's work can be seen in the tower vault, the south window of the south transept, and the chancel stalls. He also removed the plaster ceiling of the transepts, blocked up the small door into the chancel and repaired the roof.
In 1854 Ripon Theological College was founded in Cuddesdon to train Anglican priests; the parish church has been closely tied with it ever since.
What to See at the Church of All Saints
Cuddesdon Church has a cruciform plan with wide transepts, three aisles, and porches on the west and south sides.
The Norman tower has a northwest stair turret and set-back buttresses. The upper part was rebuilt in 1630 and has twin arched bell-openings and an embattled parapet. The weathervane and clock date from the late 1700s.
The west portal is Late Norman and has an arch of three carved orders: the inner one left plain; the middle one with roll-molding and dogtooth; and the outer one a band of lozenges with cut-out centers. All are under a hood with stops featuring squarish beasts' heads. The capitals mark the transition from Late Norman stylized leaves to the freer Early English stiff-leaf decoration.
The south porch is 14th century but the south portal is from the 12th, contemporary with the west portal. It was moved when the south aisle was added in the 13th century. The portal has an arch of two orders: the inner one plain and the outher one with bands of roll-molding and dogtooth. The capitals are carved with an early form of stiff-leaf and there is a carved head on the east side.
Inside, there is a light switch on the south wall of the south transept behind a wooden slider. The nave has a Norman font and a pulpit of 1896 by C.E. Kempe. The west window is by Hardman from designs by Street.
The highlight of the interior is the tower crossing, which has richly ornamented Norman arches. All the outer faces of the arches have two orders with angle half-rolls, except for the arch facing the nave. This has a hood with doghead stops, an outer order of zigzag, and an inner order with roll-molding.
The inner faces of the arches are similar: the outer with zigzag and an angle roll; the inner plain with an angle roll. The capitals on the two eastern pillars have simple fluting, but those of the western pillars are carved with beasts' heads, waterleaf, and crocket capitals. The tower vault dates from 1851-53.
The Norman north transept is now used as the vestry. Its east wall has traces of the medieval wall paintings that once covered the interior, as well as a small Norman window and a blocked doorway that once led to a small room.
The south transept has bench seating around three walls, which may indicate this area was used as a school. It is now the Lady Chapel. Bishop Bancroft (d. 1640) is buried under the south wall.
The chancel contains the High Altar, reconstructed by H.S. Rogers of Oxford in 1931, and memorial brasses to Bishops Stubbs (d.1901) and Bishop Mackarness (d.1889) on the south wall. The glass in the east window is by Kempe; the side windows contain the arms of the bishops of Oxford from 1675 to 1845.
Quick Facts on the Church of All Saints
|Names:||Church of All Saints · Cuddesdon All Saints · Cuddesdon Church · Cuddesdon Parish Church|
|Categories:||parish churches; Grade I listed buildings|
|Dates:||1180 and later|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.722997° N, 1.131645° W|
|Hours:||Open daily during daylight hours|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Church of All Saints|
- Personal visit (July 14, 2007).
- Informational sign provided in the church
- Nikolaus Pevsner and Jennifer Sherwood, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (Yale University Press, 2002), 562-63.
- Cuddesdon All Saints - A Church Near You
- Ripon College Cuddesdon
- Photos of the Church of All Saints - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Church of All Saints, Cuddesdon
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Church of All Saints. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.