Garsington Parish Church

The Parish Church of Garsington is dedicated to St. Mary.

The following description is taken, by permission of the vicar, Richard Cowles, from the booklet on sale in the church. This was itself prepared by the Garsington Local History Group, at the behest of the Parochial Church Council.

The Building

Some History

St Mary’s church stands on a raised hilltop site, held by an ancient retaining wall, facing across the Thames valley to Wittenham CLumps and the Iron Age hill-fort. The first record of a priest in Garsington is c.1160 but Wallingford Priory had probably already received the advowson about a century before, at the time of its foundation. (Archaeological evidence confirms the existence of a smaller church on this site.) Wallingford retained the advowson until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


In the South aisle, to the right as you enter the church, is the War Memorial. Many of the names of those who died still exist in the village. [ Ed. See also the War Memorial page for more details of the monument on The Green. ] To the left of the door is the memorial by Eric Gill showing in relief the profile of Lady Ottoline Morrell who died in 1938. Other memorials in the South aisle include:

Henry Singleton commoner of Trinity College, who was killed at the age of 24, at the turnpike gate at Gosford, near Kidlington, on MArch 7 1846.

The Bells

There is a ring of six bells as follows:

Bell NoDateFounder
Treble1696R Keene
21720A Rudhall (inscribed Peace and Good Neighbourhood)
31733H Bagley
41929Mears and Stainbank
51825W & J Taylor
Tenor1788J Rudhall

The Clock

The turret clock was made by John Thwaites of Clerkenwell, London in 1796. It cost £172 4s and was installed by Richard Pearson of Oxford. The money was donated by William Harper, a bachelor farmer in the village. The clock has two faces which are 4ft 6in in diameter and 26ft above the ground on the North and South walls of the tower.

Each face is marked in quarter hours and has a single hand. It chimes the hour on the tenor bell and has a self-correcting mechanism so that the chime comes right when the clock is altered. In 1985 the clock was renovated and an automatic winder installed at a cost of £4000, donated by the Caistor family in memory of their parents.

The Font

The font is a Victorian copy of the 13C font at Weston, Lincs. and was given (probably by F J Morrell) in 1846. It replaced an 18C font given by Richard Turrill, Parish Clerk, in 1782.

The Organ

The two-manual and pedal organ, which replaced a harmonium, was installed in 1895. It cost £164 and was a rebuilt one made by Martin and Coats of Oxford.

Stained Glass

The East window was reglazed in 1898 with glass from St Giles Church, Oxford and was given by F P Morrell in memory of his father, F J Morrell, who had become a major property owner in Garsington. They were descendants of James Morrell, whose first wife’s memorial is in the North aisle.

The Churchyard

The churchyard has been extended twice in the twentieth century: in 1906 when the lych-gate was moved to its present site nearer the road and in 1987 when the burial ground was extended on the South side. Some of the old gravestones around the church were removed in the early 1960s and laid near the top of the retaining wall.

Copyright © 2006. Last updated 15 November 2006.