The rebuild of 1811 - 1812

The tower and the north porch

During alterations to his Wytham estate, Montagu Bertie, 5th Earl of Abingdon, rebuilt the church in 1811-12. The church register records that the previous church was so ruinous as to be dangerous .......... to assemble for divine worship'. The architect was Thomas Cundy, (1765-1825).

In 1821, The Gentleman's Magazine paid tribute to the careful use of old stonework, especially window tracery and door-cases. The new church added a north porch, built from materials reclaimed from the old south porch, and a tower. Two small windows in the chancel, and a larger one in the tower west wall, came from the old church.

The Earl owned Cumnor Hall, built by Abingdon Abbey in the time of Edward III, and by this time a ruin. He pulled it down in 1810. Two, perhaps three, fourteenth century windows from the monks' hall are now on the south side of the church. They have been cut down to fit their new position; but the outside two still have their hood-moulds (now much weathered). The east window was also from Cumnor Hall. It was very large, and had to be cut down for use at Wytham, but retains part of its moulded central mullion. The Earl also re-used the small doorway leading into the churchyard from the Abbey garden and two fine early sixteenth century doorframes from the time of the last abbots of Abingdon. One is on the west side of the tower and only visible from the garden of Wytham Abbey.

The west door of the church

Another forms the arch of the churchyard gate. On the outside of this gate is part of an inscription from 1572, JANUA VITAE VERBUM DOMINI'. Inside are two stones HN-MN' (for Henry Norris and Margery Norris) and ANO 1571' (now missing). These might have come from either Wytham or Rycote, where the Norrises lived.

The church has a Caen stone font in gothic style, and was fitted out with pews, pulpit, and a west gallery. The font, pulpit and gallery remain, but new pews were put in towards the end of the nineteenth century. The altar rails from the old church were extended to fit the wider chancel by the addition of two plain panels matching the pulpit.

The altar table (1626), the church chest (1637) and the poor box still remain, as does a pall to cover the coffin at funerals, made in 1635, though the embroidery is now very fragile.

The church gate

The door to the Abbey garden


A hatless man with
a forked beard....

Six corbels carved with heads support the roof. Although interesting, they do not fit naturally into the church, and are not a set. On the south side of the nave are a woman with a close-fitting wimple, perhaps a nun, and a hatless man with short curling hair and forked beard; these corbels have rounded tops. On the north side are a king with forked beard and moustache and a neat crown, and a larger carving of a man playing bagpipes, wearing a liripipe hat with the tail hanging down over his arm; these have five-sided tops. All four probably came from various parts of Cumnor, their varied size suggesting they were made for a larger building, probably in the second half of the fourteenth century.

The two corbels in the chancel appear to have been made for the church. On the south is a young man with curling hair and a laurel wreath round his head. On the north is a man wearing what must supposedly be a mitre. They may portray the Earl of Abingdon and

The bagpiper

John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury 1807 - 1825, in whose diocese Wytham then was. The hammerbeams of the roof above the corbels were decorated with painted shields - de Wytham and Golafre in the chancel, and the Earl's own ‘battering rams’ for Bertie and de Wytham impaling Golafre on the south side of the nave. Those on the north side of the nave are more obscure.

The pulpit

Above the corbel ‘king’ are the ‘Ancient’ Royal Arms of England while above the other are the arms of Edward the Confessor, presumably representing the similar arms of Abingdon Abbey.

The interior of the
church from the gallery