Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chiselhampton, Oxfordshire

One of the purposes of this blog is to record accidental architectural discoveries and to preserve those moments of surprise when I come across unexpected or unusual buildings. Recently I was taking the coach from London to Oxford when we hit a diversion. Because an accident was blocking the M40, the coach approached Oxford along a different road, taking us through the village of Chiselhampton. As we did so, I looked up from my newspaper to see this building through a gap in the hedge. Next time I was doing the same journey in the car, I reran the diversion so that I could have a better look.

There’s a date inscription telling us the church was built in 1762, but that’s all that’s known. It must be the work of a local builder and carpenter, interpreting the language of Classical architecture in their own way. What they came up with, a plain façade rising to an ornate, town-hall-style, clock turret, is not the kind of thing you normally find on a sophisticated town church, where convention demanded a proper pediment and bell tower in the style of St Martin in the Fields. But how much better this provincial version works for a small country church, lifting your heart as you enter and take your place in box pew or gallery (all the original furnishings are still there, by the way). Or as you pass, hassled and late, on your way towards the more pretentious turrets and spires of Oxford.

1 comment:

Peter Ashley said...

It makes me want to go there immediately. So much so I might run, rather than getting in the car.