St Mary Magdalene - Wardington, Oxfordshire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 06.784 W 001° 17.054
30U E 617487 N 5775002
Quick Description: Medieval church of St Mary Magdalene, Wardington.
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/23/2020 12:02:19 AM
Waymark Code: WM12BX8
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 0

Long Description:
Medieval church of St Mary Magdalene, Wardington.

"Wardington chapel was in existence by the 12th century at least. It was dependent on the mother church of Cropredy until 1851, when it was created a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Bishop of Oxford, the parish containing the hamlets of Williamscot and Coton.

The endowment of the new benefice consisted partly of a modus of £59 16s. for which the small tithes in Wardington, then belonging to the Vicar of Cropredy, had been commuted at inclosure in 1762, of a tithe rent-charge of £15, and of £61 10s. from a lease of glebe. The burden of collecting the modus was considerable as it was payable in eighty parts, varying in amount from £5 7s. to 1¾d. The main developments in the enhancement of the value of the living were its endowment in 1877 with £170 yearly, reduced the following year by £9 6s. 8d. in consequence of the addition of 2½ a. to the parsonage grounds, and its endowment in 1927 with a further £51 yearly on grounds of an increase in population. The income was stabilized by the sale of the glebe (25 a. near Cropredy Bridge) for £1,345 in 1919, and by the partial sale of the modus in 1924 for 23 years purchase. Finally the living was improved by £60 yearly which accrued from the archbishops' Challenge to the Laity Fund.

Wardington, like the other chapelries of Cropredy, suffered from the great extent of the parish and the difficulty of getting suitable curates. Only two preReformation curates are known: Robert in the late 12th century, who witnessed a charter as priest of Wardington, and John Pratte, priest of Wardington in 1526, who received a stipend of £5 6s. 8d. yearly. During the religious changes of the 16th century the curates subscribed. The bitterly anti-Catholic and strongly Calvinistic theological writer Peter Allibone (1560–1629) came of a long-established Wardington family and was at Williamscot school in 1575; but there is no evidence that his Wardington contemporaries shared his views. In the 17th century Robert Chamberlain, curate in 1606, was possibly a member of the local family of gentry of that name; John Clarson, member of a clerical family established at Horley, was minister c. 1615, and the names of six other curates are known. Clarson's successor John Parry came into conflict on matters of doctrine with one of his parishioners, Thomas Gubbins, who was presented for slandering past ministers, some of whom, he said, were 'drunkards and whoremasters', and for disgracing the minister openly in church on a Sunday morning. Gubbins charged Parry with false doctrine and lying in the pulpit; he threatened to complain to the assize judge. Gubbins and others also refused to pay their dues. The religious unrest of the times may be reflected in the whole parish's refusal to agree to repair the church seats. The Protectorate attempted to remedy matters by creating a separate ecclesiastical parish for Wardington, Williamscot, and Coton in 1657, but no permanent change was made. Richard Claridge of Farnborough (Warws.), who served the cure some time after the Restoration, later became a Baptist and then a Quaker. A later curate, Jonathan Hilton, was also curate of Claydon and taught school at Williamscot; in 1685 he was presented for marrying several persons without banns or licence.

More often than not in the 18th century the church was served by the Vicar of Cropredy himself, as in 1739, or, if the vicar was an absentee, by a curate resident at Cropredy, as was the case c. 1800. In 1739 the vicar on account of his ill health was proposing to get a second curate who would relieve him of his duty at Wardington, where he held a service with a sermon every Sunday, administered communion four times a year, and read prayers in Lent and on most holy days. The same number of services were held in 1808, but the number of communicants had dropped from close to 100 in 1738 to 40–50. Even so not more than four persons in Wardington were reported absent from church through indifference to religion and, except briefly in 1690, no organized dissent appeared until 1815. Except for an increase in the curate's salary between 1811 and 1816 there seems to have been little improvement until the creation of the separate benefice. Thereafter the vicar was resident in a new glebe house, a two-storied coursed ironstone structure, originally two cottages, which he had bought himself for £672 (subsequently reimbursed by subscriptions) and converted for a further £491; the house stands opposite the drive to Wardington House and on the south gable-end is the inscription '1668 Elizabeth Kench'. The former curate's house, a small cottage occupied in 1811 by the Wardington parish clerk, had been sold in 1832. After a visit to Wardington in 1855 Bishop Wilberforce wrote: 'the house (i.e. the new parsonage-house) too small in its rooms etc. and the money too much laid out on small ornaments, but a wonderful gain to have got a resident clergyman.' In 1865 the parsonage-house was conveyed to Queen Anne's Bounty. Its damp condition produced eloquent pleas from a later incumbent, Marsh Kirkby, after 1913; he claimed that the upkeep of the house had 'beggared' him 'more than anything else'.

In 1854 the first Wardington incumbent, Charles Walters (d. 1877), reported that he held two services on Sundays, read Matins daily, catechized at least once weekly, and administered the Sacrament every first Sunday to between 25 and 35 communicants and on major festivals to between 40 and 50. On Sundays the afternoon attendance (350–400) was high, and was double the morning one of 180; Walters thought the lower morning attendance the result of a lazy habit 'arising from the past, when there had been only one Sunday service'; but the figures show a distinct improvement on those for 1851.

In 1866 the vicar was still finding it difficult to get people to church in the mornings; he reported that many church-goers sometimes attended the dissenting meeting, and that of the regular dissenters, 50 to 60 in number, 'one and all look in sickness for the parish priest'. His difficulties appear to have been partly personal. When he tried to get his church restored in 1871 and an offer of £250 towards the repair fund was made by Thomas Chamberlain, who had just inherited his family's Wardington estate, influential persons on the spot declined to do anything on the plea of the vicar's unpopularity.

Restoration of the church was finally carried out during the incumbency of Walters's successor, John Welburn (1877–1913). Welburn also raised £2,000 for the restoration of the organ; and in 1912 he initiated a fund for the church tower. His first visitation return of 1878 shows him, moreover, as a conscientious priest. By the end of his tenure the number of Easter communicants was double that of 1854.

The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, vestry (on the north side of the chancel), south chapel, south porch, and an embattled west tower. The earliest features of the building date from the 12th century. There is a partially blocked 12thcentury window in the south wall of the chancel, and the southern respond of the 12th-century chancel arch remains embedded in the wall behind the pulpit. At the east end of the north nave arcade are the responds of a 12th-century arch, indicating the existence of a transept or north chapel, whose site is now occupied by the east bay of the north aisle. The existing nave and aisles were built in the 13th century. They are separated by arcades of five arches on each side. Most of these rest on plain circular columns, but the three westernmost piers on the south side have roughly formed compound shafts. The south aisle, which retains its original doorway and two three-light lancet windows, is narrower than the north aisle, which is slightly later in date. The greater width of the north aisle was probably determined by the presence of a 12th-century transept at its east end. Early in the 14th century new windows were inserted in the chancel and at the east end of the north aisle. The clerestory was also constructed in the 14th century, but the two easternmost windows on the south side were replaced by larger three-light windows in the 15th century. The west tower was added before the end of the 14th century. The vestry was built in the 15th century; until 1915 it had an upper room or loft reached by a ladder. The screens which separate the chancel and the south chapel from the nave and the south aisle respectively incorporate portions of medieval tracery, that of the chapel dating from the 14th century.

There are stray references to minor repairs in the 17th century, and a gallery had been taken out by 1855, when Bishop Wilberforce considered its removal a great gain. The question of a restoration was raised in 1871 and again, in vain, in 1879, when Ewan Christian, a London architect, was called in and produced a report which condemned the condition of the church in terms which ranged from 'seriously bad' downwards.

The main fabric, including the chancel, was restored in 1887 and 1889, in accordance with the plans of Ewan Christian, at a total cost of nearly £2,000; the floor was relaid and new seats substituted for the former 'huge square pews and other expositions of bad taste'; an eagle lectern carved by the village carpenter (Bonham) was installed, and also a new oak pulpit. The small round window above the chancel arch was filled with stained glass representing St. Mary Magdalene. The choir seats and desks were renewed in 1890; the south porch had been restored before the rest of the building. The proposed scheme of restoration was not, however, carried out in full: in 1887 George Loveday of Williamscot House successfully resisted a proposal to move the organ into the 'south or lesser chancel' (i.e. the south chapel) on the grounds that the chapel belonged to him as owner of the manor-house. The organ, renovated in 1950, was in 1969 in the north aisle.

The first restoration was not entirely well done: the new chancel roof was heavier than the old, the chancel foundations had already been in places entirely displaced by the insertion of coffins, cracks began to appear in the chancel walls in 1913, and the roof of the lower story of the vestry fell in. Further work was therefore carried out on the vestry, chancel, and chapel in 1915 at a cost of about £1,000. Later nearly £1,900 was spent on the tower, clerestory windows, and chancel arch; the tower was extensively refaced and buttresses were added at the end of the chancel. The builders in this third instalment of restoration were Messrs. Franklin of Deddington and, for the tower, Messrs. Booth of Banbury; the architect was W. T. Loveday. A reredos was set up in the sanctuary in 1932 to commemorate the work of J. E. Sabin as churchwarden. In 1933–4 electric light was installed in place of oil lamps.

The octagonal font bears the letters 'RM RS' and the date 1666. In the south aisle are two medieval tomb-recesses. One contains a curious monument consisting of a foliated slab with the head and joined hands of an ecclesiastic carved in a recess.

At the east end of the south aisle is a floor brass to Henry Freebody, gentleman (d. 1444). The south chapel contains a monument to George Denton (d. 1757) and four floor slabs (two of them armorial) to members of the Chamberlayne family; the east window of the chapel was formerly blocked up, but was restored as a memorial to John, Lord Wardington (d. 1950). The chapel also contains mural tablets in memory of members of the Wardle, Loveday, and Wallace families. In the chancel are memorials to members of the French family, and two windows inserted in memory of the Chamberlain family.

The six bells are of mixed dates from 1669 to 1841; all originally came from the Bagley foundry in near-by Chacombe. The present treble, fifth, and tenor bells were cast by that family in 1669, 1682, and 1685, but the other three were replaced by new bells in 1791, 1795, and 1841. The bells were rehung in 1899.

The church plate includes a silver chalice bearing the names of the churchwardens of 1612 (one of them a Sabin), and a silver flagon and paten given by Mrs. Chamberlayne in 1750 and bearing the Chamberlayne arms.

Wardington church had an old tower clock, repaired in 1864. A new clock was installed in July 1900 by J. Smith, Midland Clock Works, Derby.

The churchyard was enlarged in 1899 and 1957. The registers, which date from 1633, are complete, except for a few gaps in the Civil War period."

SOURCE - (visit link)

There is also a very good account of the church history on the Wardington parish website - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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