St Mary's Church, Adderbury
St Mary's Church, Adderbury

Quite why Adderbury's parish church is not better known is a mystery; it is without question one of the more enjoyable churches I've had the pleasure of visiting. The oldest parts date to the 13th century, but most of the current church is 14th century.

The real joy of Adderbury is the wealth of wonderful carvings that decorate the building inside and out. Gargoyles and grotesques abound, with mythological figures of animals and humans, lords and ladies.

There was a late Saxon church at Adderbury, and the village was part of a large royal estate by the 11th century. A 13th century Bishop was later to claim that King Athelstan had granted the church at Adderbury to the See in 1014. Sometime around 1250 the church was completely rebuilt, with the transepts and nave arcades remaining from the 13th century building.

Much of the remainder is the result of further work in the 14th century, which included widening the aisles and raising the nave roof and transepts. In 1408-1418 New College, Oxford University, built the chancel in honour of William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and founder of the college. Wykeham's head and coat of arms are above the east window.

St Mary's Adderbury
St Mary's Adderbury. The setting is lovely, in a lane below the High Street, looking over the river
Aisle window, Frieze carvings, St Mary's Adderbury
An unusual bow window on the west end of the north aisle. This type of window is most common in secular architecture in the late medieval and Tudor periods.
Gargoyle, St Mary's Adderbury
Gargoyle on the roofline of the south aisle
Frieze carvings, St Mary's Adderbury
The exterior north wall is decorated with a fantastic frieze with carved animal, human, and mythological creatures.
Frieze carvings, St Mary's Adderbury
More of the frieze on the north wall; here is a mermaid with two tails.
Nave, St Mary's Adderbury,
The nave, begun in the 13th century, remodeled in the 14th century
East window, St Mary's Adderbury,
The chancel and east window. I am not normally a fan of Victorian restoration, but the work here is absolutely stunning. You won't see better carving anywhere, and the overall effect is one of light, space, and awe.
East window, St Mary's Adderbury
Detail of the east window in the chancel. Within the chancel is the coat of arms of William of Wykeham, one of the most powerful men of the medieval period, who was probably responsible for building of the chancel.
St Mary's Adderbury, corbel carving
Just a sample of the many, many corbel heads in the nave and aisles
St Mary's Adderbury, corbel carving
Another corbel head
St Mary's Adderbury, capital carving
The pier in the south aisle is decorated with heads of knights, while ...
St Mary's Adderbury, capital carving
... the pier in the north aisle depicts ladies in wimples
St Mary's Adderbury, capital carving
Capital carving in the north aisle of Adderbury St Mary's

Adderbury, St Mary Photo Gallery

About Adderbury, St Mary's
Address: 1 Mill Lane, Adderbury, Oxfordshire, England, OX17 3LP
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On Church Close, just off the High Street (A4260) in the centre of Adderbury.
Website: Adderbury, St Mary's
Location map
OS: SP470353
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

Historic Time Periods:


Find other attractions tagged with:

11th century (Time Period) - 13th century (Time Period) - 14th century (Time Period) - Athelstan (Person) - Decorated (Architecture) - Medieval (Time Period) - Restoration (Historical Reference) - Saxon (Time Period) - Tudor (Time Period) - Victorian (Time Period) -


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

Deddington Castle - 2.3 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Bloxham - 2.6 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Broughton Castle - 3.7 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

North Aston, St Mary's Church - 4.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

South Newington, St Peter ad Vincula Church - 4.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Somerton, St James Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Wigginton, St Giles Church - 5.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Swalcliffe Barn - 5.9 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Nearest Accommodation to Adderbury, St Mary's:

Self Catering   -   B&Bs/Guesthouses   -   Hotels

Nearest Self Catering Cottages

  More self catering near Adderbury, St Mary's

Show self catering cottages near Adderbury, St Mary's

Nearest Hotels

    More Hotels near Adderbury, St Mary's

Show bed and breakfasts near Adderbury, St Mary's

Nearest Bed and Breakfasts

  More bed and breakfasts near Adderbury, St Mary's