Aston Rowant church
Aston Rowant church
Aston Rowant is a small village in lovely countryside between Watlington and Princes Risborough. The parish church of SS Peter and Paul stands on a site used since at least the 11th century. Two rounded Saxon windows are all that remain of that early church. One is set in its original position above the south porch, and the second ios in the west wall of the north aisle. The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century, and in the 14th century a pair of aisles were added to the nave.
Norman corbel heads are still set in the nave walls, rather sadly stranded after the nave was rebuilt. In the north wall is a medieval stained glass fragment depicting an angel wearing a crown. More fragments of medieval glass have been gathered in the east window of the north aisle. It is possible that more medieval glass was destroyed by Cromwell's soldiers during the Civil War. In the north wall are a pair of tomb recesses in Decorated Gothic style. These probably held tombs or grave slabs, but now only contain worn coats of arms. The arms have been tentatively identified as those of the powerful Fettiplace family and the Courtenays. Inside a recess s a small medieval brass of a woman, thought to be Elynor Egerley (d. 1508).
13th century Purbeck marble font
13th century Purbeck
marble font
In the north aisle is a very nice painted monument to Lady Cecill Hobbee (d. 1618), showing her kneeling in front of a prayer desk. By the step yup to the chancel is a grave stone to Hufgh le Blount (d. 1305). Blount gave his name to the village of Kingston Blount.

On the south wall of the nave are brases to Ralph Coppyn (d. 1437) and his wife Isabela (d. 1441). Partly covered by pews in the middle aisle are brasses with a woman with a hound at her feet.
The very nicely carved pulpit is Jacobean, while the font is 13th century and carved from Purbeck marble. The south doorway is 13th century as well, while inside the porch is a holy water stoup of the same age. The porch itself is 14th century, so the stoup would have been outside the original door, exposed to the elements.
Jacobean carved pulpit
Jacobean carved pulpit
In the chancel are a 13th century piscina and a squint is set in the north wall of the chancel arch. In the south wall is a louvered 14th century window (best seen from the outside). This type of window is often described as being made for the use of lepers, who were not allowed into the church. In truth we do not know why these windows were made. Also best viewed from the outide is a 14th century priest's door. Set into the wall is a niche with trefoil arches, holding a stone coffin lid with a floriated cross on the top. This probably indicates the tomb of a priest, and may be as early as the 11th century.
The south chapel was added in the 14th century. During the 18th century it was to seat the Lord of the Manor and his family and staff. The floor is made with stone brought here from Brightwell Park at Brightwell Baldwin. On the wall is a memorial to Frances Thornehill who died in childbirth at the age of 22, in 1640. The inscription waxes eloquent about the accomplishments of Lady Frances, saying, 'She was more learned than all the rest, supassed only by her husband'. More grave slabs are set on the floor of the chapel, including a brass to Jane Cole (1643) and Henry Lee (d. 1632).

Summing Up
St Peter and St Paul is a lovely country church set in an idyllic countryside setting. The real interest here are the wonderful memorials, from the 11th century to the 17th century. The church is usually open daylight hours and is well worth a visit.

Jane Cole coat of arms (1643)
Jane Cole coat of arms (1643)
Lady Cecill Hobbee (1618)
Lady Cecill Hobbee (1618)
North aisle 14th century niches
North aisle 14th century niches
11th century grave slab in the chancel
11th century grave slab in the chancel
15th century Coppyn brasses
15th c Coppyn brasses
Saxon window in the nave
Saxon window in the navel
Frances Thornehill memorial
Frances Thornehill memorial

About Aston Rowant
Address: Church Lane, Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire, England, OX49 5SR
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On Church Lane, in the cente of Aston Rowant, between Watlington and Princes Risborough, just north of the M40, J6. Parking along the verge. Usually open daylight hours.
Location map
OS: SU726990
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest

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Information Centre
Town Hall
High Street
Tel: 01844 212 833
Fax: 01844 216 094