Our Church – The Nave

Our Church

The Nave

Church plan view

The nave is the oldest part of the church, and existed in some form before the Norman Conquest.

Norman Door Detail

You enter it from the south porch through a doorway built between 1100 and 1125, which is mirrored by another doorway of the same date in the north wall.

Nave Door

The door that hangs in the south doorway is the oldest woodwork in the church – the planks are probably also 12th century. On them you can see and feel the marks left by the medieval carpenter’s adze. The decorative wrought iron straps and hinges on the outer face are only slightly later, forged by a local blacksmith.

The first thing you see when you enter the nave is the octagonal font. This dates to the 15th century, and probably replaced an earlier Norman tub font. Its central placing by the door symbolises how baptism is the entrance to the church community.

West Window and Eagle Lectern

The nave is lit by small, simple 12th century windows high up in the north and south walls. There are two larger windows – the simpler one with no tracery in the west wall is 13th century, the one in the south wall is 15th century, characterised by the squarer, cage-like tracery of the Perpendicular style.

The striking feature of the nave is its simplicity. The walls are painted white, the Georgian roof is unpainted, and the largely Georgian square ended pews are also very plain. This is not at all how the church would have looked in the medieval period, when we know that the walls were painted with decorative patterns and images telling stories from the Bible and depicting the saints. Most medieval people could not read English, let alone Latin, and these paintings gave them a way of learning the Christian story as well as a focus for prayer. We do not know if there were medieval pews, as none have survived, but these too would have been very decorative.

Eagle Lectern

Above the east arch leading to the tower crossing is a Jacobean (early 17th century) timber gallery for musicians. These were common in country churches in the Jacobean and early Georgian periods, before pipe organs became affordable for the average parish church. A band of musicians would have accompanied the congregational singing; traditionally these bands were quite raucous and many clergymen must have been relieved to be able to replace them with a single organist they could supervise more closely. It is likely that the gallery replaced a medieval rood screen, separating the priestly end of the church at the east from the lay people in the nave, as the access to it through the tower staircase is earlier. The gallery also gives access to the room in the tower where the bells are rung.

Along the west wall is our war memorial, made out of the old Victorian reredos, with the lists of villagers killed in World War I on the left, and World War II on the right. Many family names appear several times, showing families that lost several sons, and in one case a father in the first war followed by his son in the second. For more information on our war casualties please see World War I Fallen and World War II Fallen.

Stained Glass

The five lancet windows in the nave all seem to have had their stained glass installed in the aftermath of the First World War. In the south wall the window to the west of the door depicts St Andrew and was installed by members of the Scottish Church; that east of the door St Patrick and was installed in memory of Frederick Bowles by his comrades. Bowles was born in Buckland and joined the Oxfordshire Light Infantry in 1895 at the age of 18. He served until 1907, when he seems to have emigrated to Canada and worked as a bricklayer. It was in Quebec, just four weeks after the outbreak of the First World War, and at the age of 35, that he volunteered to enlist in the 3rd Company Royal Canadian Engineers. He was made Company Sergeant Major in March 1916. In October 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, and then in February 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, having “displayed great courage and determination” in bringing up supplies under fire for building alternative gun positions. He was severely wounded in the right thigh by a bomb on 24th October 1917 during the 3rd Ypres offensive, and died on the same day at a casualty clearing station near Lovie, in Belgium. Frederick left behind his wife, Louisa (nee Whiting), who was also from Buckland and to whom he had been married for less than 18 months. Louisa’s brothers Harry and Potter, her cousin William Bernard, and her step-father Ernest Dowling had all been killed on the Western Front just months earlier; another cousin, William James, would die as a prisoner of war in 1918. Louisa herself was remarried after the war, to a Mr Woolloff, and moved out of Buckland to his farm near Abingdon.

The three matching lancets in the north wall depict (from west to east) St David, installed as a thank-offering for peace after the Great War, Saint George, in memory of George Hocking 1892-1915, and Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of the Diocese of Oxford. All of these windows are by Burlison and Grylls, installed between 1918 and 1919, and are testaments to the loss and sorrow suffered by our small village community during the First World War.

The large window in the south wall contains 15th century glass depicting the arms (from east to west) of the de la Poles, the Diocese of Oxford (this is a modern replacement), Edington Priory, and Newburgh/Beauchamp. We know from historic records that there were also the arms of Thomas Chaucer, but these have been missing for at least a century. Beneath the arms in the four main lights, from east to west, are the Prophet Isaiah, the Archangel Gabriel, St Mary the Virgin, and Saint John the Baptist. These figures were installed by an unknown maker in 1877, paid for by William Niven in memory of his wife, Helen Boustead.

West Window

The west window has as its theme the birth and death of Jesus. The top five lights depict the Crucifixion; the bottom five the Nativity. It was erected in memory of churchwarden Warren Green around 1926, and is by Burlison and Grylls.



At the east end of the nave, there is a wall mounted memorial to Elizabeth Perfect (d. 1801) who inherited Carswell Manor from her father, Sir Thomas Hayward, but died shortly after the birth of her son. The monument depicts an urn and weeping putto, and was made of Coade stone. This was an artificial stone (technically a ceramic) developed by Eleanor Coade in the 1770s. It was a malleable but hard-wearing alternative to stone that was ideal for delicately carved ornamentation. Coade was a skilled artist and businesswoman – one of the only women to have a substantial influence on eighteenth century architecture. The success of her firm declined after her death in 1821 before being closed down in 1840, after which the recipe for Coade stone was lost. It was not until the 1990s that it was successfully recreated, however, such was the durability of the material that original work such as the Perfect monument have survived with minimal degradation.

Contemporary Restoration

In 2018 the Nave and North Transept roofs were restored.

The old lead was stripped from the Nave roof exposing the 17th century timber roof structure that was failing in many places. A new steel beam and timber roof was erected above the historic structure (which was preserved in situ) and new lead applied.

The stone slates on the North Transept were removed and sorted for re-use where possible. The roof was then recovered using a mixture of retained and new stone slates.

The rainwater goods and drainage around the Nave and North Transept were checked and faults rectified. The ceilings were repaired and redecoration took place.

The lead professional advisor for the project was Andrew Townsend Architects. The works were undertaken by Ward and Co an award winning building conservation contracting company.

The church was closed for building works from April to November 2018.

Two public visits to the roof work in the course of construction were held: in June 2018 to view the exposed historic roof structures, and in September 2018 to view the new timber roof structure and the partly completed new lead and stone work. Access to the interior of the church was also allowed showing the extent of associated internal work and scaffolding. 30-40 people attended on each occasion including a significant number of children (over 10 years old).

Buckland Church of England Primary School placed a Time Capsule in the Nave roof structure just prior to the last lead work being completed.

The total project expenditure was some £418,000 (including VAT which was all recovered through the Government’s Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme). A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £236,000 was received. Other grants totalled £50,000: the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust £15,000; the National Churches Trust £15,000; and the Southby Trust £20,000 (the latter a local trust specific to Buckland). Some £64,000 was met through local fundraising and private donations.