North Leigh - St Mary's Church
An architecturally fascinating church: the church is late Anglo-Saxon in origin with the bell tower probably built in the first half of the 11th century; in the latter part of the 12th century the Saxon nave was abandoned and its arch in the west wall of the tower was blocked up. A new nave was built east of the tower with north and south aisles flanking it and a new chancel, all in the Early English Gothic style. In the 13th century the new nave was enlarged, and early in the 14th century both aisles were extended westwards, flanking the tower on both sides, and arches were cut in the tower to link with them. In the middle of the 14th century the division between the nave and chancel was moved back to where it had been in the 12th century!
A new chapel was built only to be replaced with a new Perpendicular Gothic style chapel, which has fine fan vaulted ceiling of unusually high quality for a parish church. It was built for Elizabeth Wilcote, widow of the then Lord of the Manor. The parents of William Lenthall, Speaker of the House Commons during the Civil War, came from North Leigh and are commemorated on a memorial tablet in the chapel.
In 1723, John Perrott, Lord of the Manor, engaged Christopher Kempster of Burford, one the master masons who had worked for Sir Christopher Wren on St Paul's Cathedral, to refit the church and build a burial chapel for the Perrott family. Kempster linked the chapel and the north aisle by an arcade of Tuscan columns. The chapel is lit by tall, round-headed Georgian windows with plain glass. On the walls are several large, ornate 18th century memorials to members of the Perott family.
In the nave there is a 15th century Doom (Last Judgement) painting above the entrance to the chancel. This was uncovered during Victorian restoration work by the Gothic Revival architect G.E. Street.
|2024 (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)