Downton Abbey Connection: The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin , Bampton
This evening, I am posting information on an Anglican church in Oxfordshire, England which in recent times has experienced a big uplift in visitors due to the church featuring in scenes, including weddings, of the T.V. series Downton Abbey.
Bampton is located about forty miles north of Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey. Bampton is an Old English name which translates as 'farmstead made of beams or by a tree'.
This church welcomes visitors and is normally open during daylight hours throughout the year.
Norman-era chevron carvings around arch.
A brief history of the Church (as sourced from the Church's website).
- Lies at the centre of an ancient parish within an Anglo-Saxon royal estate and on the site of a late Anglo-Saxon Minster from 950 or earlier.
- The parish was the largest in Oxfordshire and incorporated some 11,238 acres as late as 1877.
- Evidence suggests that there was a church on the site much before the Norman Conquest in 1066, although the earliest surviving document records the gift of the church (and Deanery Manor) by William the Conqueror to Leofric, Bishop of Exeter and the Church of Peter the Apostle and Martyr Exeter (Exeter Cathedral) in 1069.
- It is likely that any earlier building was severely damaged in the siege of Bampton that had taken place in 1142. The only surviving element of the church from before that time is the Anglo-Saxon tower (now housing the staircase to the bell ringing chamber) evidenced by the fine herringbone stonework. It seems likely that work on the present building began in 1153 when the parish was split in two by the see of Exeter.
- The present appearance of the church is largely a result of a remodelling of 1270, when the spire was built and the aisles were added.
Church interior looking west