Swinbrook, St Mary's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Fettiplace family monuments
There is so much of historic interest in the very simple church interior, most of it in the chancel.
On the south side of the chancel are two sets of monuments to the Fettiplace family, who held the manor of Swinbrook during the 17th century. The family was immensely wealthy and owned estates in 15 counties. No trace now remans of the family manor, but the monuments are a striking reminder of just how powerful and wealthy the family was.
Each tomb shows three male Fettiplaces, recumbent, stacked as if on shelves, one above the other. The earlier tomb is nearest the chancel arch and dates to 1613. The effigies are arranged with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. So you will find the bottom Fettiplace wearing an Elizabethan ruff, but his son, Alexander, wears a high collar, as does his son and heir, William (d. 1562).
On the top is Sir Edmund Fettiplace (d. 1686), and under him Sir John Fettiplace (d. 1672), and on the bottom is John Fettiplace (d. 1657). Again, these are arranged with the oldest at the bottom and newest at the top.
The Swinbrook Misericords
Set against the south wall of the chancel is a set of 15th century choir stalls with decoratively carved arms and wonderful misericords. Another stall serves as a seat for the reading desk just inside the chancel arch. The subject matter of the misericord carvings is wonderfully diverse; there is a woman with her hands on her knees, a grimacing man with a huge nose, a pine cone, and a lion head, among others. Most of the stall arm carvings show human heads, though there is one dragon figure. It is easy to imagine that the woodcarver had specific people in mind when he carved the heads, as each one is different and seems to show a specific character.
Other items of interest include a very plain 15th century font, and panes of medieval glass gathered in the east window of the south aisle. On the most westerly nave pillar is a colourful painted and gilded memorial to Joan Goddard (d. 1623). At the west end of the nave, set on the rear wall, is a memorial to Major Clement Mitford of the Royal Hussars, who was killed in action in Flanders in 1915. Also commemorated in Lord Redesdale of Batsford Park (d. 1916), and the 2nd Lord Redesdale (d. 1958).
St Mary's is an absolute delight; the Fettiplace monuments alone are worth a special trip to see. They are among the best examples of 17th century sculpture in any parish church. The brasses and misericords really do deserve special attention, too, and the village of Swinbrook is just about the prettiest place you could imagine.
Address: Pebble Court, Swinbrook, Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, England, OX18 4DY
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Just above the village green. Limited parking around the green and along the roadside. The church is usually open.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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