Completed Record for St Mary’s, Garsington. November 2017
For the past two and a half years a small group of Church Recorders from the Arts Society Oxford, have been working on a Church Record for St Mary’s. This is a comprehensive document listing the furnishings, artefacts and some of the fabric of a church. Objects are divided into sections entitled, Memorials, Metalwork, Stonework, Woodwork, Textiles, Windows, Paintings, Library and Miscellaneous. Each object is described in a prescribed format and may be photographed. Thus the final Record is a document of local and social history. Copies of the Record are placed in the V&A in London, the local County Heritage Centre and Historic England so that it becomes a source of information for future researchers.
Standing on the site of a Saxon look-out post, the Church is a prominent landmark facing across the Thames Valley to the Wittenham Clumps. Part of the Tower dates back to the late 12th Century , the North Aisle was added at the end of the 13th century and the South Aisle added in the early 14th century. The Church contains a number of monuments, the most notable being a memorial by Eric Gill of the literary figure Lady Ottoline Morrell who lived in Garsington. Other interesting features include a turret clock, medieval and Victorian floor tiles and a stained glass window which came from St. Giles Church in Oxford.
The group met once a month and spent a couple of hours in the church making notes on the particular sections they were working on, undertaking further research between the meetings and then writing up their notes in the format required. Measurements were taken, some items weighed, Latin on some of the memorials translated, and a lot of time spent looking up historical archives to ensure as much information as possible had been collected. Memorials in any church are probably one of the most fascinating to research and two in particular threw up some unexpected stories. Research into the first, ‘to the memory of Henry W.M. Singleton’ a Commoner of Trinity College Oxford, produced the fact that the burial register states he was killed at the turnpike gate at Gosford (Kidlington). He and a fellow student appear to have raced on horseback along the turnpike after going to the races and his horse ran into the toll-bar throwing him insensible, whereupon he died two hours later.
Liz Rhodes, Convenor, Church Recorders
Photographs: Carolyn Brown