St. Andrew's Church, East Hagbourne

Ambrosden church

St. Andrew's Church in East Hagbourne consists of a chancel 31 ft. 9 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., north chapel 21 ft. 10 in. by 12 ft. 10 in., south chapel 21 ft. by 13 ft. 7 in., nave about 44 ft. 10 in. by 19 ft. 8 in., west tower 16 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 2 in., and north and south porches. The above measurements are all internal.

The church appears to have originally consisted of a chancel and aisleless nave, built probably in the 12th century. The external quoins of the north-east and south-east angles of this 12th-century nave are still to be seen. In the first years of the 13th century, to which period the south arcade of the nave belongs, a south aisle appears to have been added, and a few years later the chancel was rebuilt, the south aisle being extended eastward to form a south chapel. About 1340 the north aisle was added to the nave, with a similar eastern extension forming a north chapel, and a west tower was erected, the nave arch of which still remains. Early in the 15th century the south chapel and aisle were rebuilt and widened. For this date there is absolute historical evidence in the brasses of the founders now in the floor of the north chapel. The first of these is to 'Claricia Wyndesor … quare fieri fecit istam capellam,' and who died in 1403–4. The second brass is to John York, the husband of Clarice Windsor, who is referred to as 'Fundator Istius Ile,' and who died in 1413. Either before or shortly after this the west tower appears to have been rebuilt, the 14th-century tower arch being re-used. Later in the century the walls of chancel and nave were raised and clearstory windows inserted in them. To the same period belong the roofs of the chancel and nave and the east window of the former. Early in the 17th century a new roof was placed over the south chapel. The church was restored in 1860 without any drastic alterations.

In the east wall of the chancel is a late 15th-century window of five cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery within a depressed four-centred head. The lower portion is partly blocked by a modern stone reredos. Externally there is a large moulded string-course immediately beneath the sill, terminating at either end in a lozenge with concave sides. In the upper lights of the window are fragments of 15th-century glass. In the north wall is a 13th-century square aumbry with a modern door. To the west of it is a lancet window with a ribbed rear arch and wide splays. To the west of this window, opening into the north chapel, is a 14th-century arcade of two bays with two-centred drop arches of two orders, the outer order moulded with a sunk quarterround. The pier is octagonal, and has a moulded octagonal capital and chamfered base. The responds are similar. Over the column is a carved stone head, probably the stop of a label which has now disappeared. Above are three 15th-century square-headed clearstory windows of two trefoiled lights with ogee heads. In the south wall is a 13th-century piscina with a quatrefoil basin and a trefoil head, both head and jambs being moulded with a filleted bowtel. To the westward of this is a lancet window similar to the corresponding window in the north wall, and of similar date, with uncarved label stops. Next is a squint, commanding a view of the altar from the south chapel, and next again to the west, opening in to the south chapel, is an arcade of two bays of 13th-century date, with arches of two chamfered orders and circular piers and responds. The pier and east respond have foliated capitals and moulded bases, but the abacus and plinth of the former are octagonal and of the latter semicircular. The capital of the west respond is a plain bell. The plinth appears to have been octagonal. Over the column is a head-stop, as in the case of the north arcades. In the abaci, bases, and plinths of the columns and responds of both north and south arcades vertical chases have been cut, perhaps in the 15th century, to receive screens which no longer survive; a modern screen has been placed in the east bay of the north arcade. In this wall are also three 15th-century clearstory windows resembling those in the north wall. The chancel arch, which is of mid-13th-century date, is two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The outer order is practically continuous, save for the interposition of a shallow abacus. The inner order is stopped upon carved corbels, the north corbel consisting of one large grotesque head, and the south corbel of three more human and naturalistic masks. The north and south chapels, being virtually continuations of the north and south aisles, will be described with them.

The north arcade of the nave is of three bays with two-centred arches of two orders, the outer order moulded with a sunk quarter-round, the inner order chamfered. The piers are octagonal and the responds semi-octagonal, with moulded shallow bell capitals and chamfered bases of the same plan. The mouldings of this arcade correspond exactly with those of the north arcade of the chancel. Over this arcade are four square-headed 15th-century clearstory windows, the three eastern windows of two trefoiled lights with ogee heads and the westernmost a single light of the same type. The south arcade of the nave is likewise of three bays, and has twocentred arches of two plain orders supported by circular piers and responds with circular moulded capitals and moulded bases standing upon square plinths, with flat leaf-spurs at the angles. The clearstory windows of this wall correspond exactly with those of the north wall. Externally the north wall is crowned by a cornice with carved bosses, surmounted by a plain parapet with moulded coping. The south wall has also a plain parapet, which has been plastered over together with the cornice, and no mouldings are visible.

In the east wall of the north chapel is a 14th-century window of three trefoiled lights with flowing tracery within a two-centred head. To the south of this is a large image bracket with a blank shield carved upon it. At the south-east is a piscina with a straight-sided cinquefoiled head with crockets, and above it is a cross standing on a crescent, with a tenpointed star over each arm. Starting above the spring of the head, and on either side of it, are two stones, forming portions of the arc of a circle, carved with crockets, which may have formed the lower portion of a containing arch. In the continuous north wall of the chapel and aisle are three 14th-century windows, each of two trefoiled ogee lights with flowing tracery within a two-centred head. The north doorway at the west end of the wall has a two-centred head and jambs of typical 14th-century section.

In the east wall of the south chapel is a 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery within a two-centred head. At the south-east is a piscina, the niche of which is formed of half the tracery of a late 14th-century two-light window. In the south wall of the chapel and aisle are three 15th-century windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery within a two-centred head. The south doorway has a two-centred head, and is contemporary with the aisle. In the west wall of the aisle is a three-light window similar in design to that in the east wall. Externally the walls are crowned by a cornice with a large casement moulding in which are carved bosses of spirited design. The parapet is plain with a moulded coping.

The tower is in two stages, with angle buttresses of two offsets, and a stair turret at the north-east. The re-used 14th-century tower arch is of two orders, the outer order chamfered and the inner order moulded with a bold filleted roll. The responds appear to have been originally composed of three clustered shafts, but the middle shafts alone, which have poorly moulded capitals, are now visible. Only the bases of the shafts on the east side remain; the shafts themselves appear to have been cut away when the tower was rebuilt in the 15th century. The shafts on the west side have been built into the north and south walls of the tower, into which the outer order now dies.

In the west wall of the ground stage is a window of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery within a two-centred head, inclosed by an external label stopped by two shields below which are carved heads. On the shield to the south is a fesse charged with a crescent; the shield to the north is now indecipherable. In the south wall of the ground stage is a squareheaded window of two cinquefoiled lights, with an external label stopped by carved heads. There is no window in the north wall of this stage. In the north and west walls of the upper stage, lighting the ringing chamber, are two windows, each of a single trefoiled light within a square head. The bell-chamber is lighted on all four sides by windows of two cinquefoiled lights with uncusped vertical tracery within two-centred heads. Above the level of the bell-chamber floor the stair turret is octagonal and is finished above the parapet of the tower by a conical roof of stone. The parapet is embattled, and below it is a cornice with carved heads in the centre of each face, and at each angle, excepting the north-east, which is occupied by the stair-turret. Surmounting the centre of the eastern face is a stone bellcote square on plan and open on all four sides; the openings have four-centred heads with the exception of that on the west side, the head of which is carried above the small cornice which crowns the chamber in which the bell is hung. The stone is so much decayed that the mouldings and form of this head cannot now be determined. The whole is surmounted by an octagonal pyramidal roof terminating in a finial, with crocketed pinnacles at the angles.

The north porch dates from the last half of the 15th century, and is of stone and timber with a lowpitched roof. The lower portion is of stone to a height of about 3 ft. 6 in. from the ground. All above this is of timber. The mouldings of the corner posts are continued upon the stone base, and the entrance is spanned by a four-centred arch with traceried spandrels. Internally are benches of stone. The south porch is of similar date and form.

The late 15th-century roofs of the chancel and nave are particularly fine. The roof of the chancel has four king-post trusses with moulded tie-beams and principals, supported by moulded wall-posts and curved braces with vertical tracery in their spandrels. The wall-posts take their bearing on stone corbels, plain, with the exception of those supporting the wall-posts of the eastern truss, which are carved with heads, that on the south representing a mitred bishop. The nave roof has five trusses of the same type with moulded tie-beams and principals having flowing foiled tracery in their spandrels. The tie-beams are supported by moulded wall-posts and curved braces, the spandrels above and below the beams being filled with tracery. The wall-posts take their bearing on plain corbels of stone. In the centre of each tiebeam is also a carved boss. On the sides of the tie-beam of the central truss are carved deer chased by dogs. At the feet of the intermediate principals are shields charged with various devices, which seem to represent various degrees of men: a double eagle for the emperor, an orb for the king, a mitre and crozier for bishop and abbot, a square for the carpenter, callipers for the mason, a millrind for the miller, and a pruned tree for the gardener. The north aisle has a plain 15th-century roof. Over the south chapel is a roof of Jacobean date with moulded timbers and pendants. On the western principal is cut the date of a repair in 1787 with the churchwardens' initials. The roof of the south aisle is of original 15th-century date, and has moulded timbers with carved bosses at their intersections.

The font dates from the 15th century, and is very probably contemporary with the south aisle, at the west end of which it is placed. The bowl, stem and base are octagonal. The sides of the bowl have quatrefoiled panels containing alternately shields and foliated bosses. The pulpit is made up of 15th-century woodwork, doubtless from the rood screen. The panels are richly traceried.

In four of the upper lights of the east window of the chancel, and in the foils of the windows in the south wall of the south chapel and aisle, are some pieces of 15th-century glass. In the north aisle and chapel is some early 14th-century glass, the best pieces being in the north-east window of the chapel, a Nativity and a group of our Lady and Child. In the latter the child holds a basket with three birds.

The north and south doors, which are each divided into four panels by vertical moulded ribs, appear to be of original 15th-century date. In the north door is an iron closing ring. The door now hung in the west wall of the south porch as the door of the modern shed adjoining it is also a 15th-century one, and may possibly have been the door of the stairturret, which now has a modern external entrance, but probably originally opened into the north aisle. The modern screens, forming a vestry, in the north chapel have original 16th-century linen-pattern panelling in their lower portions. A modern screen, the upper part of which is composed of 17th-century balusters, divides the south chapel from the south aisle. Over these is a velvet hanging with gold borders inscribed IHS/1721.

In the floor of the north chapel are the brasses mentioned above. The brass in memory of Clarice Windsor is inscribed as follows: 'Hic jacet Claricia Wyndesore quondã dña de Westhakborn et uxor Joh[anni]s york que fieri fecit istā capellā que obiit … iii.o die marcii ao dñi MoCCCCoIIIo cui' a[nima]e p[ro]piciet' d[eu]s Amen.' The following is the inscription on the brass to John York: 'Orate specialiter p[ro] a[nim]a Joh[anni]s york fundatoris isti' Ile qui obiit quintodecimo die mensis Julii anno domini milīmo CCCCoXIIIo.'

In the same slab is a third brass, probably commemorating a son of the John York mentioned above: 'Orate specialiter p[ro] a[nima]bz Johannis york et Joh[ann]e uxoris ejus qui obierunt quinto die m[ens] Septembris anno d[omin]i millīmo CCCCoXLo quinto.'

On the south wall of the chancel is a fine brass to Christian Keate, with kneeling figures of herself, her husband, and her children. The inscription is as follows: 'Here lyeth buried the body of Christian Keate ye wife & widdow of Hugh Keate of Hodcot in the Countye of Barks, Gent: who had Issue betweene them fowre sons and fower daūgh' viz. Hugh John Francis & William, Mary Margret Christian & Elenor he dep'ted this life ye 23th day of March ao d[omin]i 1613 and was buried in ye p'rish chancell of westildsley in ye county aforesaid, shee departed this life ye 14th day of August Ao d[omin]i 1627. For whose pious memorie William Keate thire yoongest soñe Erected this Memoriall.'

There is a ring of eight bells: the treble inscribed 'R. Wells MDCCLXX'; the second recast in 1910 by Mears & Stainbank; the third inscribed, 'This Bell was Made in 1602'; the fourth by Henry Knight, 1670; the fifth inscribed, 'Feare God, 1641'; the sixth, 'Love God, 1641'; the seventh by Thomas Lester of London, 1751; and the tenor inscribed, 'Robert Wells & Son Hagbourne, MDCCLXXXI.'

The communion plate consists of a cup and paten bearing the date letter of 1664; a cup given by Samuel Harwood, and engraved with his arms, a cheveron between three stags' heads, stamped with the date letter of 1738; and a flagon, also presented by Samuel Harwood, and bearing the date letter of 1736.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1661 to 1714; (ii) baptisms and burials 1714 to 1767, marriages 1714 to 1744; (iii) baptisms and burials 1767 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1755 to 1837.

Historical information about St. Andrew's Church is provided by 'Parishes: Hagbourne', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, ed. P H Ditchfield and William Page (London, 1923), pp. 475-484. British History Online [accessed 17 March 2023].

St. Andrew's Church is a Grade I listed building. For more information about the listing see CHURCH OF ST ANDREW, East Hagbourne - 1047927 | Historic England.

For more information about St. Andrew's Church see Parishes: Hagbourne | British History Online (