St Mary the Virgin

BlackB1.jpg (21579 bytes)

View from the south-east

BlackB2.jpg (13173 bytes)

The north arcade

BlackB3.jpg (12290 bytes)

The Hungerford tomb

History of the church during the west gallery period

Private pews in the Hungerford aisle, treated from the 16th century as a private chapel,[61] were mentioned in the mid 18th century, and large box pews in the chancel and an 'ugly' gallery across the tower were presumably also of 17th or 18th-century origin.[62] In 1703 a former Hungerford pew at the nave's east end was converted into a reading desk and pew for the vicar's family.[63] Occasional repairs, including repewing c. 1799, were noted throughout the 18th century,[64] but by the 1840s the church was in a dangerous state with bowing and cracked walls, insecure foundations, and roofs threatening collapse:[65] around 1845 the bishop alleged that it was the worst in his diocese.[66] The nave was reroofed in 1847 with an open timber structure resting on restored corbels,[67] but lack of funds prevented further work until 1866, when the architect E. G. Bruton carried out a complete restoration paid for by the chief landowners and parish rates;[68] unsatisfactory work necessitated further expense in 1870.[69] The chancel was re-roofed and its walls repaired, the north aisle was rebuilt incorporating the 14th-century doorway, and the south door, with its original ironwork, was reportedly moved to the tower entrance, having presumably been recut. The interior was entirely refurbished, heating was installed, and the westernmost bay of the north aisle was partitioned to form a vestry.[70] Stained glass by Clayton and Bell of London was fitted in the chancel and north aisle.[71] New furnishings included a lectern,[72] and a reredos of coloured ornamental tile 'in very bad taste', replaced in 1915 by one of stone faced with carved oak; that was removed c. 1966.[73] In 1931 the Hungerford chapel was fitted up by members of the Akers family for daily services, and electric lighting was introduced to the church in 1934.[74] An 18th-century chamber organ was given in 1965, and about the same time new heating was installed as part of a more general restoration.[75]

Pastoral care on the west gallery period

In 1738 there were two Sunday services with one sermon, and prayers were read on holidays and most Fridays. Children were catechized at Lent and the sacrament was celebrated four times a year.[46] Charles Knollys (vicar 1732--71), styled earl of Banbury, lived at Burford from 1747, riding weekly or fortnightly to conduct services at Black Bourton and at Yelford,[47] and for 70 years after his death the parish was served by mostly non-resident curates, of whom several served other churches also. For much of the earlier 19th century only one Sunday service was held despite complaints from the bishop, and the number of communicants fell from 30 in 1738 to under 10 by 1802, rising slightly thereafter.[48]

James Lupton, vicar 1827-1873, resided from ca. 1843 to 1860, and transformed the parish, building a new vicarage house and school, restoring the church, possibly instituting a choir mentioned in 1866, and by his own account raising the 'moral condition' of the parishioners. By 1859 most reportedly exhibited 'favourable' feelings towards the Church, though during the same period, and despite Lupton's avowed hostility, Primitive Methodism appears to have flourished, particularly among poorer inhabitants..[49]


46 Secker's Visit. 17--18.

47 Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 97--101; Secker's Corresp. 288; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 555, f. 49; d 558, f. 57.

48 O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. b 7, ff. 41, 43--8; d 564, f. 45; b 38, f. 29; b 39, f. 49; d 566, f. 33; d 568, f. 43; d 570, f. 39; d 572, f. 37; d 574, f. 35; d 578, f. 29; d 580, f. 33; for bp.'s complaint, ibid. d 549, p. 92.

49 Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 103--7; Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, ff. 106, 252--257v., 345--6; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 103, f. 193; above, this section (vic. ho.); below (ch. archit.); nonconf.; educ.

61 P.R.O., PROB 11/77, f. 395v.; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 53, ff. 153--4; below, this section [monuments].

62 O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 53, f. 154; Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, f. 179; Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 42 n.; Billing's Dir. Oxon. (1854).

63 Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 58--9.

64 O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. b 22, ff. 347--50; c 53, ff. 130--246.

65 Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, ff. 117--18, 124--6, 135, 143--144v., 179--82, 231 and v.; Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 35--6.

66 Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, f. 181.

67 Ibid. f. 143 and v.; Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 36.

68 For the following, Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 36--43; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 103, ff. 167--8, 171--7, 191--3.

69 Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, ff. 423--7.

70 A traceried window reportedly modelled on one re-used in a cottage has not been identified; that suggested in Jnl. Brit. Arch. Soc. n.s. xxi. 91--2 predates the restoration.

71 Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 39, 41.

72 Ch. Ch. Mun., MS. Estates 63, f. 425.

73 Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 39; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1731, faculty 1915; c 1696/2, faculty 1965--6.

74 O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1731, faculties 1931, 1934.

75 Ibid. c 1696/2, faculties 1964--6; Carterton and Black Bourton Offic. Guide [c. 1975 edn.], 13: copy in Bodl.

The above information has been copied from the Victoria County History for Clanfield in Oxfordshire, at

Dove's reference for the bells:

Blackbourton, Oxon, S Mary V (GF), 5, 6cwt in B flat. Anti-clockwise; unringable. 


Map reference  :  SP286043

Information kindly supplied by Victoria County History

Please see our Home Page for important copyright notice

Up Arrow


email logo






This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
Oxford OX2 9BP
July 2001 -