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Church of St Mary the Virgin, Chalgrove, Oxf31/10/2012 - 9:02 AM
The village of Chalgrove is a lovely little village in Oxfordshire where some of my ancestors were born and raised, therefore I have a special interest in its origins and its history. I finally got to visit there a couple of weeks ago to photograph the Church and some of the lovely thatched roofed cottages, one of which was the home of my ancestors.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin has a very interesting story to tell; according to the Domesday Book, in 1087 a priest named Brun occupied land there and preached the gospel. A record of C.1085 suggests that a church building, possibly Saxon, existed at that time.
The present church dates from the early part of the 12th Century, and was begun by monks from Bec, the important Benedictine abbey in Normandy.
The dedication of the Church to St Mary the Virgin would have been made in 1317, when it was appropriated by the Abbey of Thame, as a gift from Edward II.
The chancel of St. Mary’s is decorated on three walls with a nearly complete set of medieval wall paintings, which is of national importance. It is believed that they were painted around 1320AD probably at the behest of the de Barantein family who lived in one of the two manors in Chalgrove at the time. They were lime washed over at the time of the Reformation and then rediscovered in 1858 during a period of renovation work being carried out on the instructions of the then Vicar, the Rev’d Robert French Lawrence. Some of the paintings on the north wall are a little indistinct now due to their age and two of the paintings on the south wall were covered by marble memorials while the paintings lay hidden under the lime wash.
They depict the life of Christ on the north wall, the left of the east window is the Ascension of Christ, on the south wall the last judgement and the death of the Virgin and on the right of the east window the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Originally, stained glass windows would have been part of the overall design. It has been suggested that the six female figures on the south wall, in the middle tier, may represent the wife and daughters of Sir Drew Barentein.