St. Mary's Church, Upton

Ambrosden church

St. Mary's Church in Upton consists of a chancel measuring internally about 16 ft. by 13 ft. 9 in. and an aisleless nave about 33 ft. by 16 ft. 4 in., with a south porch and west bell-turret.

The church appears to be an original early 12th-century building, but in 1885 it underwent a drastic restoration, the east wall being rebuilt and the outside walls refaced with split flints, while in more recent years the south porch was erected.

The east window is of three lancets and at the east end of the north wall is a single round-headed opening considerably restored, with wide internal splays, and a small external chamfer. The external head is in one stone and is original, as are also the jambs, but the sill is modern. The south wall is lighted by two windows, the eastern being an original small round-headed light, set high up in the wall, with widely splayed inner jambs and an incised moulding round the external angle. As in the case of the opposite window, the sill is modern. The western is similar, but its external opening has been fitted in the 13th century with a kind of frame of two trefoiled lights with a shallow draft inclosing their heads and following the semicircular outline of the head of the stone, all cut out of a single slab of ironstone about 5 in. thick; the workmanship is rude and has apparently been executed with an axe.

The chancel arch is semicircular and of a single unmoulded order, while the lower part of the responds is of the same section, though the upper part of the western angles has been chamfered off in the 13th century. The moulded abaci are flush with the east wall face, but returned on the west, and their upper member is enriched with the star ornament. On the east side of the north respond is a square-headed aumbry. At the east end of the north wall of the nave is a round-headed window with wide inner splays set high up in the wall. The window is original, though the sill is modern, while in the west end of the wall is a blocked semicircular-headed doorway. The south wall is pierced by two windows, the eastern modern and of three lights under a square head with a segmental rear arch, while the western one is a small round-headed opening set high up in the wall and although entirely restored the jambs may be original. Between these two windows is a 12th-century roundheaded doorway opposite to the blocked opening in the north wall. The arch, which is of a single order, is enriched with zigzag ornament. The west window is a single modern light with a round head and splayed jambs.

The internal walls of the church are plastered, and, although some of the quoins of the west wall have been restored, the eastern angles are original. The chancel has a modern tiled roof, but the nave roof, though restored, is original; it is divided into four bays by collared principals and has curved wind-braces. A modern truss supports the bell-turret, which has quatrefoiled openings in the sides and a pyramidal shingled roof.

The bowl of the font is circular and is probably of 12th-century date, but the base is modern.

In the bell-turret is one bell which is inaccessible.

The plate consists of a silver chalice with the date-latter of 1576 and a paten. There is also a pewter alms-dish.

The registers date from 1588, and, though bound together in one volume, parts are missing. The later entries of baptisms after 1741, marriages after 1750, and burials after 1721 are at Blewbury.

Historical information about St. Mary's Church is provided by 'Parishes: Blewbury with Upton and Aston Upthorpe', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, ed. P H Ditchfield and William Page (London, 1923), pp. 280-291. British History Online [accessed 9 March 2023].

St. Mary's Church is a Grade II* listed building. For more information about the listing see CHURCH OF ST MARY, Upton - 1200134 | Historic England.

For more information about St. Mary's Church see Parishes: Blewbury with Upton and Aston Upthorpe | British History Online (