Swerford, St Mary's Church, Oxfordshire
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Leper window, south chancel wall
The most famous of these rectors was likely Alexander of Swerford, who served from 1228. Alexander was a Treasurer at St Paul's Cathedral in London and also a clerk in the household of King John. According to his epitaph, 'he had no equal in handsomeness of body, beauty of face, or learning in many fields'. Certaibly he must have been handsome, for despite the fact that he was a clerk and thus sworn to celibacy, he is known to have fathered at least one child, a daughter named Agatha.
There are a few fragments of medieval glass in the south nave and chancel windows, though the large east window is a Victorian replacement. The most intriguing historical feature of the church is a small, hinged 'leper window' set into the larger south east chancel window. The current window pane is Victorian but it replaces a medieval pane. The window section is hinged to allow it to open, so that lepers outside the church could view the altar more easily. There is some doubt over the use of these small windows within a larger window, but in the case of Swerford we may actually be on firm historical ground calling it a leper window. Some members of the D'Oily family who established the castle at Swerford are recorded as suffering from leprosy, so it makes sense that they would have built a window to allow these family members to see the altar.
Outide the window, at the base of a small buttress, is a very worn stone said to have been used by lepers as a platform to view inside the church more easily.
St Mary's is a lovely little country church. There is not an abundance of historical features to see, beyiond the font and leper window, but the location is idyllic, and the building has an air of peaceful calm that only an English country church seems to exude.
Address: St Mary's Lane, Swerford, Oxfordshire, England, OX7 4BA
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: In the Church End (west) part of Swerford village, just north of the A361 Banbury Road. Parking along the verge. Usually open daylight hours.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Nearest Accommodation to Swerford: