It was an excellent little book called “Gargoyles and Grotesques”written by Alex Woodcock and published by the superb Shire Library, that led us to discovering the churches that exhibit work by the so-called “Northern Oxfordshire School” of carvers. We headed for nearby Adderbury and also discovered both Bloxham and Hanwell on the same day. Put these three together and you have the most stunning set of Decorated period carvings.
Simon Jenkins gives this church four stars - thus rating it as one of England’s top 100. We would agree with him, although he is a little less enthusiastic about the carvings than we are. We do agree on the quality of the Decorated window tracery. The Decorated period was characterised by, amongst other things, its window tracery. It varies widely and is perhaps a subject for the connoisseur rather than the occasional church visitor, but in both Bloxham and Adderbury the quality and the originality is clearly exceptional.
There was a Saxon church at Bloxham and in 1067 William I awarded it to Westminster Abbey. Royal patronage continued via King Stephen who endowed a chantry chapel for his mother. Henry II took if from Westminster Abbey and gave it to Godstow Abbey which was a couple of miles from Oxford. The monastery was, of course, dissolved by Henry VIII. The living was granted to Eton College who hold it till this day. Thus are the weird anachronisms and privileges that persist within British society!