On the edge of the village, surrounded by fields grazed by sheep and horses, St Mary’s Hampton Poyle enjoys one of the loveliest settings of any church in Oxfordshire. Built of local stone around the same time as St Mary’s Kidlington, it has many interesting features inside and out.
Small and simple
Two stone corbels greet you at the large oak entrance door, which opens into the south aisle. The core of the church is a simple 13th-century chapel, consisting of a nave and chancel. The north and south aisles were added in the 14th century and the double bellcote at the west end is thought to date from the early 18th century.
The chancel contains some fine features from the 13th-century ‘Early English’ period, including a lancet window and a priest’s door on the south side. The three-light east window, with its geometric tracery, dates from the late 13th century. The glass was renewed in the Victorian period. Medieval stained glass from about 1400 survives in the lights at the top of the window in the north side. They represent the symbols of the four Evangelists. The ornate marble reredos behind the altar, and the tiles at the side, were added in the Victorian period.
The north aisle
The two recumbent effigies in the north aisle are said to represent Walter de la Poyle, who became Lord of the Manor in 1267, and Catherine, Lady of the Manor, who died in 1489. The window on the left of the north wall shows the arms of Walter de la Poyle, and the brass fixed to the wall represents John Poyle (d. 1424) and his wife Elizabeth. Low down towards the east end of the wall there is a niche containing what is thought to be a ‘heart-stone’ for the separate burial of a heart.
Between the nave and north aisle is an octagonal pillar with a capital showing the upper halves of four figures with their arms linked. This style of 14th-century sculpture is more common in churches further north in Oxfordshire, including Adderbury and Bloxham.
Previously a parish in its own right, Hampton Poyle has been served by the Kidlington Team Ministry for a number of years and was united with the Parish in 1997.
Hampton Poyle’s 16th-century priest Richard Thomason was allegedly condemned to hang in chains from Duns Tew steeple for his opposition to the first prayer book of Edward VI. The 17th-century rector Edward Fulham was forced to resign and flee abroad on account of his strong Royalist views and his opposition to Puritanism.
Half a mile apart
There is a very pleasant half-mile walk between St Mary’s Kidlington and St Mary’s Hampton Poyle. The route takes you through St Mary’s Fields nature reserve and over the River Cherwell at Wight Bridge.