A little village with a lot of history....

English Heritage Listings

Somerton’s Listed Buildings

Somerton’s listed structures are mostly in or around the church. There is a separate guide to this here http://somertonoxon.co.uk/?page_id=453 but for the sake of completeness all the descriptions from the official listings are given here. The photographs are from English Heritage’s Images of England website. A few contemporary comments are given and it is hoped to add to these over time and to add other notable but unlisted buildings in the village.

CHURCH OF ST JAMES

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
CHURCH STREET (south side)

Date Photographed: 04 October 2001
Grade I

C12, C13, C14 and C15; chancel restored 1854; restored 1891 by J.D. Sedding. Limestone rubble with ashlar dressings and marlstone ashlar; lead roofs. Chancel, nave, north aisle, south chapel, west tower and north porch. Restored chancel has a 3-light C19 east window with reticulated tracery, but retains C14 square-headed windows to north and south of 2 lights with flowing tracery, the lower part of the southern window blocked, and also has to north a 2-light late-C13 window with a quatrefoil in the head, plus a traceried low-side window, now partly blocked. 3-bay south chapel, overlapping chancel and nave, has stepped buttresses, and C15/early C16 windows with depressed arches and Perpendicular drop tracery; the 4-light east window is blocked below an inserted transom, and the 2 easternmost windows facing south were altered in the C16, cutting off most of the tracery and substituting square heads with a linked label mould (middle window is now blocked). Small C16 Tudor-arched doorway, with recessed spandrels and a label mould with head stops, is an insertion and may have been brought from the ruined manor house (q.v.). South wall of nave contains a 2-light C15 clerestory window above a blocked plain Romanesque doorway and, to extreme west, a very tall transomed 3-light C15 window with drop tracery below a depressed arch; 3 more clerestory windows above the south chapel are matched by similar windows in the north clerestory. North aisle has a plain pointed early-C13 doorway, with carved headstops and an ancient plank door, but has square-headed C15 windows except for an arched 3-light window with C14 reticulated tracery, and a 2-light C16 window, both facing north. C14 north porch, in marlstone ashlar, has a continuously-moulded outer arch and small ogee-headed side windows. Nave, north aisle and south chapel have matching limestone-ashlar parapets with bold crenellation. C14 marlstone-ashlar 3-stage tower, with diagonal buttresses containing canopied image niches, has a similar crenellated parapet above a moulded string linking 8 winged gargoyles, from which rise panelled pinnacles, each with gablets and foliated finials; west face includes a 2-light window with blind tracery, above a doorway with deep continuous mouldings containing an old plank double door with the remains of ancient hinges. The second stage has trefoil-head lancets and blind quatrefoils to south and west, but to north is a larger recess containing a limestone canopied carving of the Crucifixion with attendant figures; top stage has 2-light bell-chamber openings with transoms and Y-tracery. Interior: chancel has a C16-style roof of c.1850 with a pierced frieze, but retains a 3-seat C14 sedilia with mouchettes in the tracery, and a remarkable carved stone reredos of the Last Supper with each figure below an ogee canopy (probably of c.1400). A plain plastered arch, opening to the south chapel, retains one shaft of its C15 predecessor. C19 chancel arch of 2 chamfered orders dying into the walls. 4-bay north arcade has round Transitional columns, but pointed arches of 2 chamfered orders and responds are probably C14 as is south arcade, of 2 arches with continuous mouldings, and low tower arch of 3 chamfered orders. Two C14 tomb recesses in north aisle; small C15/early C16 piscina in south chapel. C15 nave roof has moulded timbers and rises from carved corbels; similar roof in north aisle; south chapel roof in C15 style is probably C19. Fine C15 chancel screen has a drop-traceried arcade above a pierced frieze, but the lower panels of 1891 are by J.D. Sedding. C15 screen in the south arcade has traceried panels and 2 matching doors; the western section probably originally returned across the chapel. Late-C16 panelled screen on south side of chancel has a row of Doric columns below a cornice. Other fittings include two C13/C14 bench ends in the chancel, a number of C16 bench pews at the rear of the nave with some traceried and linenfold panels, some early-C18 box pews, a panelled pulpit of 1764 on 6 turned legs, tower screen of c.1900 by Thomas Garner, and an unusual small C14 font. Stained glass includes some C17 armorial quarries and a window of 1892 by Christopher Whall, in the north aisle, and a C19 east window in the chancel. South chapel has some patterned medieval floor tiles. Monuments in the nave include a mid-C17 wall tablet to Mary and William Mynne, several C17 ledgers, and a large medieval floor slab with an incised foliated cross. The Fermor monuments in the south chapel include a large plain tomb chest with brasses to William and Elizabeth Fermor (c.1552), an elaborate alabaster chest with effigies of Thomas and Brigitta Fermor (c.1580) by Richard and Gabriel Roilly of Burton-on-Trent, and 2 large canopied monuments with Classical columns, obelisks, cartouches of arms and strapwork decoration to John Fermor (died 1625) and Richard Fermor (died 1642/3) whose effigies they contain. There are also several C17/early-C18 ledgers, 3 early-C19 memorials with reliefs of weeping figures, and 3 hatchments. An undated wall monument to James and Elizabeth Smith is probably of c.1600. The Fermors were a noted Recusant family who moved from Somerton to Tusmore in 1625.

(see also Guide to Church here http://somertonoxon.co.uk/?page_id=453)

In the churchyard just north of the church you will find

CHURCHYARD CROSS

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 28 August 2001
Grade I

Medieval. Marlstone and limestone. Octagonal limestone shaft, approximately 1.5 metres high, rises from a square base, standing on a square 4-step marlstone plinth, the lowest step of which has a deep chamfered nosing. The head of the cross has almost indecipherable carvings on all 4 faces, and the top corners of the base are carved with heads.

Near the east end of the chancel you will find the Dew Memorial.

DEW MEMORIAL

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 28 August 2001
Grade II

Chest tomb. c.1808. Marlstone. Rectangular chest, with moulded base and cover, has square corner balusters and plain panels. Inscription commemorate Marten Dew (died 1808) and Mary Dew (died 1833).

Immediately next to the East wall of the Fermor Chapel is a

GROUP OF 4 COLLINGRIDGE MEMORIALS

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 05 September 2001
Grade II

4 headstones. Late C17. Limestone and marlstone. Small headstones (2 of limestone: 2 of marlstone) have plain panels below shaped beads, all of which feature a cross standing on a skull flanked by crossed bones. The inscriptions are partly illegible, but commemorate members of the Collingridge family and include the dates 1688 and 1690. The stones are the earliest of a group of approximately 20 memorials plus several footstones to members of the same family, extending to the early C20. Nearly all include a representation of the cross, a very unusual feature before the mid C19, possibly indicating a Recusant connection.

Approximately 5 metres east of the Chancel you will find

1670 HEADSTONE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 05 September 2001
Grade II

Headstone. c.1670. Marlstone. Small stone has a shaped panel below an hourglass, flanked by shallow carving. Inscription is partly illegible but includes the date 1670.

Between the path and the north wall of the church you will find an interesting

GROUP OF 4 HEADSTONES

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 28 August 2001
Grade II

4 headstones. c.1700. Marlstone. Small stones have shield-shaped panels below shaped heads, each of which features a cross standing on a skull flanked by crossed bones. The inscriptions are partly illegible but include the dates 1692, 1695 and 1704. The use of the cross is very unusual before the mid C19 and may indicate a Recusant connection.

Down the end of Church Street on the left side is

JASMINE COTTAGE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 04 October 2001
Grade II

House. Early C17. Coursed limestone rubble with wooden lintels; artificial stone-slate roof with rebuilt brick gable stacks. 3-unit plan plus service bay. 2 storeys plus attic. 3-window front of main range has 2-light casements to both floors, except the ground-floor left window which is of 3 lights; all have stop-chamfered lintels, and the upper casements have heavy frames with splayed mullions. Lower service bay to right has a heavy 3-light casement. Left gable and rear of main range have further splay-mullion casements above C20 single-storey extensions. Interior not inspected.

2013 comment: Interesting oak-framed extension ? designed by Roderick James 

Turning back up Church Street on the south side are

1,2 AND 3 CHURCH STREET

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet

Photographed 2002

Grade II

Farmhouse, now 3 cottages.

C17 and C18 extended C20. Limestone rubble with wooden lintels and some squared quoins; Welsh-slate roofs with stone-and-brick gable stacks. 3-unit plan with rear wing, subdivided. 2 storeys. 3 bays to right of 5-window front have a steep-pitched roof and represent the original main range; the adjoining doorways of Nos.2 and 3 (the former an insertion) are flanked by casements of 2 and 4 lights, and at first floor a 2-light casement remains between enlarged windows of 3 lights. The 2-window section to left (No.1) was probably raised from a contemporary single-storey bay, and has 2-light casements; it shares a 3-shaft stack with No.2. The right gable wall of the range has been partly rebuilt at an early date, and it carries an ashlar based stack; it returns to a short rear wing. C20 single-storey extensions to rear. Interior: Chamfered beams. Included for group value.

(Nos  2 and 3, the ‘Middle Farm’ of the eighteenth century, have been rejoined and are now called Church End, No 1 has been extended with an extra bay to the East. See also detailed record of Church End by Oxfordshire Buildings Record)

At the top of Church Street on the north side there are the barns attached to Dovecote Farm. The entrance is opposite the junction with Ardley Road but this photograph was taken from the field on the other side of the North Aston Road

DOVECOTE FARMHOUSE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 29 September 2002
Grade II

Farmhouse. C17, early C18 and late C18/early C19. Limestone rubble, partly squared and coursed, with wooden lintels and some ashlar dressings; Welsh-slate roofs with stone-and-brick gable stacks. 3-unit plan, extended. 2 storeys and 2 storeys plus attic. The left range is earlier, probably part C17 and part early C18, and has irregularly-arranged casements of 2 and 3 lights plus 2 entrances, one with panelled double doors; the left half has been raised (probably late C18) and has a shallower roof with stone-based gable stacks. The right range, joining at an oblique angle, is of c.1800 and has a symmetrical 3-window front with leaded transomed casements, of 3 lights in the outer bays, but of 2 lights over the arched doorway which has a fanlight and a pilastered ashlar surround; all windows have ashlar flat arches, at ground floor with label moulds. The shallow-pitched roof has projecting boxed eaves and verges. Rear of earlier range has casements of 2, 3 and 4 lights, some with stop-chamfered lintels, but is partly obscured by 2 late-C18 hipped-roofed wings with flat-arched casements and projecting keyblocks, similar to those at the rear of the later range. A hipped-rooted C18 rubble range, forming a cross-wing to left of the earlier range, was formerly a dairy but is now part of the house. Interior: Earlier range has stop-chamfered beams, a large inglenook fireplace and C18 joinery including 2 cupboards with serpentine shelves; the later range has an open-string winder stair with mahogany handrail.

Apart from the church the highest status building in the village is probably the dovecote concealed in the garden of Dovecote Farm

DOVECOTE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 29 September 2002
Grade II

Dovecote. 1719 recorded as on datestone. Coursed squared limestone; Stonesfield-slate roof. Square plan. Front has a low doorway, with a plank door and heavy wooden lintel, and has an ashlar band; all 4 sides have a narrow rectangular opening in a gable, but the front also has a datestone with an inscription in an oval recess, now virtually illegible. The central wooden glover is surmounted by a weathervane. Interior: The walls are lined with over 1000 brick nesting boxes separated by stone ledges; the roof retains original cross beams.

It is noteworthy that this sylish and well-constucted building was built after the Fermor family who were lords of the manor and owners of what is now Dovecote Farm had moved to Tusmore. It was not just utilitarian, though the squabs would have been an appreciated dish.

Turn back south along the Heyford Road. The remains of the Fermors’ Manor House are in the field on your left accessed over a stile at the junction with Aston View.

REMAINS OF MANOR HOUSE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 29 September 2002
Grade II

Ruin, formerly part of manor house. Early C16. Limestone rubble with ashlar dressings. A section of wall, approx. 7m long, with quoins at each end, containing a 4-centre-arched 2-light window with the remains of Perpendicular tracery within a casement moulding and below a hood mould. The ends of the wall are probably rebuilt as there are indications of a further window opening to the south. Noted as forming part of the hall range of the manor house built by William Fermor. Scheduled as an Ancient Monument.

(See the article here http://somertonoxon.co.uk/?page_id=225 about the Fermors and Catholicism in Somerton)

Troy Farm is on the north side of Ardley Road halfway between Somerton and Ardley

TROY FARMHOUSE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet

Grade II

Large farmhouse. Early C18, altered and extended C19. Coursed squared limestone with wooden lintels: brick; Welsh-slate roofs with brick stacks. L-plan. 2 storeys plus attic. Right bay of 5-window front is of narrower rubble and may be of earlier origin. All bays have 3-light casements to both floors except bay 3 which has a 2-liqht window above a glazed door; there is also a small window to right of bay 4. Roof has 5 gabled roof dormers with C19 bargeboards, and has 4 stacks with paired shafts. Lower wing returns on right with further casements. All openings an both ranges have chamfered lintels. Rear of main range is partly obscured by a C19 brick wing. Recorded on the site from C16 and probably on the site of a C15 manor house. Has an ancient turf maze in the grounds.

(The turf maze is the subject of an article here http://somertonoxon.co.uk/?page_id=187 )

The last three listed structures in Somerton are the complex at Somerton Deep Lock. Go towards North Aston. Cross the canal and take the towpath heading north. The lock is about half a mile from the road.

BRIDGE AT SOMERTON LOCK

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 30 June 2001
Grade II

Canal bridge. Circa 1790. Brick. Narrow depressed arch has a projecting half-brick hood; solid parapets rise over the arch and curve outwards to square brick piers. Both faces have early stone plaques inscribed “151”. Bridge is linked to Somerton Lock (q.v.) and forms a group with the Lock Cottage (q.v.).

SOMERTON LOCK

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet
Date Photographed: 30 June 2001
Grade II

Canal lock. c.1790. Brick with some stone dressings. East side retains some stone copings but also has old bullnose brick copings; west side has concrete copings. Upper gates are steel; lower gates are wood; both have wooden beams. Lock is linked to the bridge (q.v.) and forms a group with the Lock Cottage (q.v.).

(This is the deepest lock on the Oxford Canal. A separate article about the canal is envisaged)

SOMERTON LOCK COTTAGE

© Mr Alistair F Nisbet

Date Photographed: 30 June 2001
Grade II

Lock-keeper’s cottage. Probably early C19. Buff brick with red-brick dressings; concrete plain-tile roof with brick gable stack. 2-unit plan. 2 storeys. 3-window front has renewed 2-light casements in chamfered Tudor-arched surrounds; central doorway has a similar surround but is now within a small C20 porch. End walls have smaller similar windows. Roof rises from a brick dentil eaves course and has the stack to left. Interior not inspected. Cottage forms a group with the lock (q.v.) and bridge (q.v.).

(2013 comment: this charming cottage’s only connection with the outside world is along the canal to the Somerton/North Aston road half a mile away).

 

3 Comments

  1. geoffrey and joanna Fermor's Gravatar geoffrey and joanna Fermor
    September 14, 2013    

    we were so interested in your research into the history of the Fermor s at Somerton Church.We have visited two or three times My late uncle did do abit of research into the Fermors of Tusmore ,we dont know if any of this information woulb be any help to you We have the same family crest with the cock crowing on it! we are unable to come to your open day unfortunately We look forward to hearing from you

  2. January 12, 2014    

    I am very sorry we have not replied before to your comments. I understand they went into Spam and have only just been recovered. We are very interested in anything concerning the Fermors of Tusmore. Just before Christmas we published a booklet which obtains an article about the Fermor family in Somerton and how, through them, the resident Catholics were protected from persecution. It is available in the Church but is also on the website.
    I imagine you are in touch with the Fermor Society. In the unlikely event that you are not I can let you have the details if you can send me your e- mail address. Mine is available on the website.
    Thank you for your interest.

    Rosemary

  3. September 7, 2016    

    Referred to as “somertonoxon” I came across it as my surname is Noxon! I assume it is actually the village of Somerton in the county of Oxfordshire (often abbreviated to Oxon)

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