October 8 – Church Micro Day around Kirtlington

Hi from 1066 – Medieval Mosaic

You would not believe the cover photo for this page. We were walking across the bridge which went over the canal and then over the railway line. Suddenly I heard the train coming and told Mike. He turned on the camera and took the shot of the train rushing through at 100 mph. We both thought that there was no chance that this would be anything other than a big blur but not only was it clear but also caught a great composition of the canal with narrowboats and the train too. Great skills.

St. Mary the Virgin church in Kirtlington is a great church with a lovely wall painting of St George and St Christopher. It was interesting to see an old church which has been tastefully renovated with a new floor without ruining the antiquity of the church. It had a lovely Minton tilework floor in the chancel and the sanctity. There were also a series of funeral hatchments and wall memorials to the memory of the Dashwood family.

Then we went to Kirtlington quarry where we found two caches plus a multi and a earthcache. Kirtlington Quarry exposes limestones and clays of the Great Oolite Group that formed in the Middle Jurassic period around 165 million years ago. The Quarry has had many uses. The earliest written records indicate that some of the beds were worked for fuller’s earth early in the 17th-century when the woollen trade was dominant. From 1907 to 1928 the Oxford Portland Cement Company operated a busy works and quarry here, shipping the finished cement to markets in the Midlands and Oxford along the nearby Oxford canal. It is thought that Kirtlington lay near to the shore of a small barrier island, in a coastal environment, and would have been similar to the Florida Everglades today. These conditions attracted many animals to Kirtlington, and the quarry is famous among geologists for its rich diversity of fossils.

Next, we visited St Mary’s church in Upper Heyford. This church dates back to AD1074. There is a lovely window over the altar with no greens but with various shades of pinks and dark red. In the Lady chapel, it had a wonderfully painted reredos which opened to show a triptych painting. It also had an effigy of a priest from 1290 and some beautifully carved capitals on the columns. Of note in the churchyard is a headstone with the word ‘murdered’ on it. Apparently, there is only one other in England with this word. The headstone is for James Allen who was murdered by a local man. His murderer Noah Austin was the last person to be executed in Oxford, in 1863.

The Minton tiles in the chancel and sanctity at St Mary the Virgin in Steeple Barton were fantastic as is the wooden reredos. It also had some carved stone capitals including one with linked arms. It had some lovely bird tapestry kneelers. After we had visited the church we found a seat in the churchyard where we sat to have a late picnic lunch. While there, a lovely old gentleman came over to us to chat. He was 88 and was born and bought up nearby. He also worked as a farm labourer near the village. His parents went to the church here and he was in the choir. It was lovely to listen to his remembrances while his son mowed around his grandparents and his mother’s graves. The geocache was some distance away so we went for a walk down through the churchyard to Barton Abbey and the lake. What a great place it is and it is still lived in. Just mowing the lawns must be a full-time job. We found several caches in the area before moving on to St Nicholas’ church at Tackley for two more caches. We were lucky to get into the church here as the 5.30 Sunday service was only a few minutes away from starting and the minister and bell ringers had just arrived. So we enjoyed some bellringing while looking for the cache which took us a while. There was a lovely stained glass window by Hardman (1903)