All Saints Church, Sutton Courtenay

Ambrosden church

All Saints Church in Sutton Courtenay consists of a chancel 36 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., nave 58 ft. by 24 ft. 3 in., north aisle 8 ft. 3 in. wide, south aisle 9 ft. wide, north and south porches, and west tower 13 ft. by 13 ft. 4 in. All these measurements are internal.

The west wall of the nave, the two lower stages of the tower and the responds of the chancel arch are of mid- or late 12th-century date. The presence of re-used 12th-century work in the south arcade indicates that an aisle existed at that period. The chancel was rebuilt in the first half of the 12th-century. In the following century the top stage was added to the tower, the south arcade and aisle were rebuilt and the north aisle added. About the same time the chancel arch was reconstructed and widened and the clearstory was perhaps added. During the 15th century various windows were inserted and the walls of the aisles were raised. The south clearstory is apparently also of this date, and it is possible that the earlier windows of the north clearstory may have been transferred from the aisles at this alteration. Early in the 16th century the south porch was added. The church has been restored in modern times, when the north porch was added.

The chancel has a four-light east window originally of the 14th century, but with late tracery; the east gable was rebuilt in the 14th century. In the north wall are three original 13th-century lancet windows, and further west is a three-light window of the 15th century with a traceried pointed head. In the south wall are a pointed two-light window of the 14th century, a 15th-century priest's doorway with a four-centred head and a three-light window of the same date. Between the last two are remains of a 13th-century lancet, and further west a blocked doorway. In the same wall is a trefoil-headed piscina with two drains and a square-headed niche, and above the priest's doorway externally is a shallow trefoil-headed niche of the 14th century. The chancel arch has reset 12th-century responds, each with a large semicircular shaft having scalloped capitals and a smaller shaft on the west face with richly carved capital. The low arch of two orders is of the 14th century. The roof is of wagon form with a moulded cornice.

The nave has a 14th-century north arcade of four bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders; the piers are octagonal with half piers as responds, all having moulded capitals and bases. The south arcade is also of four bays, of which the first arch is 12thcentury material re-used. This arch is of two pointed orders, the inner with cheveron and the outer with embattled ornament; the latter terminates on the west with a ball flower. The eastern respond has a single shaft with 14th-century moulded capital and base, and the first pier is square with an attached circular shaft on each face similar to the respond. The remaining bays on this side are similar to the north arcade. The clearstory has on the north five windows, all of two lights, and apparently of the 14th century, but of two types. On the south there are five 15th-century windows, square-headed and of two lights. The roof is low-pitched with heavy tie-beams, with curved braces resting on modern corbels and two uprights supporting the principals. The north aisle has a 14th-century east window of two lights under a pointed head. In the first, second and fourth bays of the north wall are three-light 15th-century windows with pointed and traceried heads. The 14thcentury north doorway in the third bay has a pointed head. In the west wall is a window of a single cusped light. The south aisle has a pointed 15th-century east window of three lights, and on either side of it is a stone bracket, the northern restored and the southern of octagonal form with a head corbel. In the south wall is a pointed piscina and three windows uniform with those opposite in the north aisle. The 14th-century south doorway in the third bay is pointed. The oak door is of the 15th century, panelled in five compartments with traceried heads above and below the middle rail.

The west tower is three stages high, the lower two being of the 12th and the upper of the 14th century. The lower part has clasping buttresses at the western angles. The tower arch is of two plain semicircular orders with a chamfered label and imposts continued along the wall as a string. The west doorway is modern, but the 12th-century window above it has side shafts with carved capitals and a head enriched with cheverons. In the north and south walls are simple windows of the same date. The second stage has two-light windows, apparently of late 12th-century date, in three faces; they are divided by shafts with capitals and bases, and on the west and south the arches interlace and the jambs have cheveron ornament. Above this stage is a corbel table with grotesque heads, &c. The bell-chamber has a plain parapet with gargoyles at the angles, and is lighted by a two-light window in each face. At the south-west angle is an old stone sundial with an iron gnomon.

The east ends of both aisles show traces of the lower line of the 14th-century roofs. The early 16th-century south porch is built of brick with stone dressings, and has a parvise over it approached by a brick staircase from a door in the south aisle. The outer archway has a four-centred arch and a square head with quatrefoils in the spandrels; above it is a panel with a carved object in the nature of a badge. On each side is a stone bench and a two-light window, and in the north-east angle of the porch is a pillar stoup of Purbeck marble with a broken bowl. The parvise has a two-light square-headed window in each wall and a square-headed stone fireplace on the west.

The 15th-century rood screen is of five bays, the side ones divided into three compartments with traceried heads at the top and below the middle rail. The double doors are similar. The east bay of the north aisle is screened off on the west by a 15thcentury screen with a doorway and four cinquefoilheaded compartments to the north of it. The cresting has been cut away. The east bay of the south aisle has a similar screen with traceried heads to the compartments. Against the east wall of this aisle is a stone altar with a panelled front, having quatrefoils in circles and a carved leaf in the centre of each; it is finished with a moulded cornice and base.

The early 13th-century font is ornamented with a series of pointed arches resting on shafts with foliage capitals and moulded bases. At the foot between each arch is a three-leaf flower and beneath the arches a further foliage ornament; the top has been cut down. The fine hexagonal Jacobean pulpit was given to the church in 1901; it springs from a centre post, and the sides have enriched and arcaded panels with carved consoles at the angles supporting the cornice. A panelled back with fluted pilasters supports the sounding-board, which has a dove in the centre of the soffit. At the west end of the nave is a richly carved and panelled 16th-century chest. Some of the nave benches are perhaps of 16th-century date, while one pew bears the date 1633. On the south of the chancel are some oak stalls with simply carved misericorde brackets, probably of early date.

Against the north chancel wall is an altar tomb with a plain slab and a front with two quatrefoil panels. Further west is a moulded 14th-century arched recess with a cusped head and a label. Under it has been placed a freestone recumbent effigy of a priest in mass vestments with excellent drapery, and restored feet, hands, and head. A floor slab in the chancel to George Hyde (d. 1661) bears the Hyde arms impaling a cheveron between three eagles' heads (?) razed. In the nave is a brass inscription to Richard Trulock of Appleford (d. 1705). Another brass inscription, now lying loose, commemorates Thomas Trulock the younger (d. 1615). South of the chancel, outside, is a weathered 15th-century tomb with panelled and cusped sides.

In the western pair of chancel windows are fragments of 15th-century glass. Other fragments of the 14th century remain in the east window of the north aisle, and in the second window of the north wall the 15th-century tracery glass is largely complete and has figures of the Evangelists. Other fragments of the same date remain in the south aisle windows. To the west of the second window in the north wall is a much-damaged 15th-century painting of St. George and the Dragon, and painted above the chancel arch are the royal (Stewart) arms and the commandments. On the west walls of the aisles are painted panels recording the benefactions of Edmund Scorier, with figures of poor men, on the north, and of William Andrews, with figures of poor widows, on the south. On the west wall is a painted table of benefactions. In the north aisle is a small library of old books.

There are six bells: the treble by Thomas Swaine, 1775; the second, inscribed 'Richard Keene cast this ring 1675, A Lough C. H. 1899'; the third, 1675; the fourth by R. Taylor, 1829; the fifth by T. Swaine, 1775, and the tenor, 1787.

The plate consists of a cup (London, 1584) and cover paten; a paten unmarked and inscribed 'William Androes, Edmund Martin, Peter Smith March 25 1624'; a small cup (London, 1812); and a large flagon (London, 1822). There is also a pewter flagon inscribed 'Sutton Courtney Iohn Poke vicar Iohn Tirrald Edward White Churchwardens 1682.'

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1539 to 1669, marriages 1538 to 1670, burials 1540 to 1670; (ii) all entries 1661 to 1696; (iii) 1696 to 1727; (iv) 1728 to 1775, marriages to 1754 only; (v) marriages 1754 to 1786; (vi) baptisms and burials 1775 to 1812; (vii) marriages 1786 to 1812.

Historical information about All Saints Church is provided by 'Parishes: Sutton Courtenay', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, ed. William Page and P H Ditchfield (London, 1924), pp. 369-379. British History Online [accessed 9 March 2023].

All Saints Church is a Grade I listed building. For more information about the listing see CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS, Sutton Courtenay - 1182209 | Historic England.

For more information about All Saints Church see Parishes: Sutton Courtenay | British History Online (