St Mary the Virgin

The church of St Mary the Virgin lies at the centre of an ancient parish within an Anglo-Saxon royal estate and on the site of a late Anglo-Saxon minster from 950 or earlier.

Bampton, Oxfordshire

Opening times

The church is open daily during daylight hours and at other times by arrangement.


Church View
OX18 2LW

For almost a thousand years St Marys has played its part at the centre of the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, and today it continues to be a vibrant influence within the local community as well as a beautiful centrepiece to the village.

The parish was the largest in Oxfordshire and incorporated some 11,238 acres as late as 1877. Evidence suggests that there was a church on the site much before the Norman Conquest, although the earliest surviving document records the gift of the church by William the Conqueror to Leofric, Bishop of Exeter and the church of Peter the Apostle and Martyr Exeter in 1069.

It is likely that any earlier building was severely damaged in the siege of Bampton that had taken place in 1142. The only surviving element of the church from before that time is the Anglo-Saxon tower (now housing the staircase to the bellringing chamber) evidenced by the fine herringbone stonework. It seems likely that work on the present building began in 1153 when the parish was split in two by the see of Exeter.

The present appearance of the church is largely a result of a remodelling of 1270, when the spire was built and the aisles were added.

The most striking feature on approach is is a wonderfully carved Norman doorway set in the wall of the south transept. This is carved in two orders of chevron and zig-zag patterns, and a pair of worn Green Men. Almost opposite is a large statue of St John the Baptist from about 1270. It fell from the tower during a storm in 1990 and was moved inside the church to preserve it.

There is a gorgeous stone reredos, dating from the 14th century and featuring a row of 12 apostles flanking a figure of Christ, each within a canopied niche. The reredos appears to have been cut from a single block of stone.

In the chancel floor, set within diamonds of contrasting coloured floor tiles, are three medieval brasses. The Hordes built a small family chapel opening out of the south transept. In that transept you will find a very nice memorial to George Thompson (d1603) and on the floor beside the memorial is a much worn recumbent effigy of a woman.

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Church of England

  • Repair Grant, £6,500, 2007

  • Our Repair Grants funded urgent repair work to help keep churches open.

Contact information

Other nearby churches

St Mary the Virgin

Buckland, Oxfordshire

A visitor to this 12th century beautiful church can see many different architectural styles with constant reminders of the past in the two transepts and the chancel, richly endowed to celebrate the loves of lost ones.