St. Mary's Church, Longworth

Ambrosden church

St. Mary's Church in Longworth consists of a chancel 38 ft. by 15 ft. 9 in. with north chapel 17 ft. 9 in. by 8 ft. 3 in., nave 40 ft. 9 in. by 26 ft. with north aisle 50 ft. by 8 ft. 6 in., south aisle 55 ft. 3 in. by 8 ft. average, west tower and south porch. These measurements are all internal.

The earliest parts of the existing building are the two east bays of the north arcade, which are of early 13th-century date. Later in the same century the chancel was rebuilt and the nave lengthened by at least one bay and the south aisle added. In the 14th century the south aisle was rebuilt and in the 15th century the west tower was added, the western bay of the nave being pulled down. In the same century the clearstory, north chapel and south porch were built and the embattled parapet added to the south aisle. Probably early in the 17th century the north aisle and chapel were largely rebuilt.

The chancel has a 15th-century east window of three lights under a four-centred head. At the west end of the north wall is a four-centred 15th-century arch of two continuous chamfered orders opening into the north chapel. In the south wall is a squareheaded window of three lights of the same period with mitred head-stops to the label, and under it is a cinquefoiled ogee-headed piscina. Further west is a priest's doorway with an almost square head and a two-light square-headed window, probably both of the 17th century. The 13th-century chancel arch is of two pointed and chamfered orders, the inner resting on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the arch is distorted. The trussed rafter roof is ceiled with plaster. The north chapel has a square-headed four-light window of the 17th century in the north wall and a narrow pointed arch, much restored, on the west, opening into the north aisle.

The nave has a north arcade of three bays, of which the two eastern are lower and earlier, with wider joints and ruder workmanship, than the other. The arches are pointed and of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from moulded corbels, one resting on a beast's head; the piers are square with the angles chamfered off, making the outer order continuous. The western bay is also of two chamfered orders, and the spring of another western bay remains, which was destroyed when the tower was built; the pier adjoining the tower is cylindrical, with a moulded bell capital and moulded base on a square plinth. The south arcade of three bays is similar in date and detail to the last bay on the north; the springing of a destroyed bay also remains on this side. The clearstory has two windows on the north side, the first of a single light and the second of two, both being probably of the 17th century. On the south side are two good 15thcentury windows of two lights with square traceried heads. The low-pitched tie-beam roof of the 15th century has moulded main timbers and is ceiled below the rafters.

The north aisle has two windows on the north, the eastern, of the 15th century, of two lights under a square head, and the western, also square-headed, of two plain 17th-century lights; the north doorway between them is probably also of the 17th century and has a segmental head. At the west end is a rough stone staircase leading up to the second stage of the tower. The south aisle has 14th-century east and west windows of two lights with pointed heads and chamfered rear arches. In the south wall are two similar windows and between them is a plain south doorway with a segmental pointed head; the internal head appears to be a re-used tympanum with incised lines. The third window in this wall is of the 15th century, square-headed and of two lights. Both the aisles have plastered pent roofs.

The 15th-century west tower has a lofty pointed arch to the nave with continuous mouldings. In the north and south walls are lower arches opening into the aisles; on the west side they partly die on to the wall and are partly supported on single shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The west window is pointed and of three lights. The tower is three stages high with an embattled parapet. The bellchamber is lighted by a two-light square-headed window on each side. The south porch has a pointed outer archway of two orders with side shafts to the inner order; it is perhaps earlier work reset in the 15th century. The roof is original with moulded timbers.

The chancel has a modern painted reredos and early 18th-century communion rails with turned and carved balusters and carved standards. The 17thcentury communion table, with turned legs, is now in the south aisle, which is fitted up as a chapel. The 13th-century font is circular, with a stem of similar form moulded at the top.

On the north wall of the chancel is a brass with a small figure to Elynor Goodolphyn (1566), and on the south wall another to John Henele (1422), rector of Longworth. In the north chapel is a tablet to Sir Henry Marten, judge of the Admiralty (1641), with a coat of arms, a fesse indented between three leopards' heads. A much damaged tablet on the same wall is probably part of the same monument, and was erected by Mrs. Margaret — to her father-in-law; it bears the Marten arms. On the floor is a slab to Margaret wife of Henry Marten (1689), with the Marten arms. In the nave is a brass with two figures in shrouds to Richard Yate (1498) and Johane his wife (1500); figures of children are missing. At the west end of the north aisle are stored the remains of a good Jacobean monument with the painted kneeling figure of a lady in a ruff, three daughters and a shield of the Marten arms. Under the chancel arch is a Jacobean screen of six bays with semicircular arches divided by turned balusters. The two middle bays are occupied by the door, and above the cornice is a handsome carved cresting rising to a point in the centre and terminated with a scallop shell; the base is plainly panelled. In the heads of the east and one side window in the south aisle are fragments of 14thcentury glass, and a few fragments of 15th-century glass remain in the west window of the tower.

There are five bells and a clock in the tower.

The plate consists of a tall silver cup and a small paten with a foot; neither bears assay marks, but on the cup is a shield bearing within a border gobony a cheveron between three lions rampant, on the chief three roses with a ring above the cheveron, and the paten bears the inscription S.D. 1629. There are also a tall silver flagon by William Fawdrey, 1711, a very shallow chalice, 1721, and a silver-gilt almsplate.

The registers begin in 1559.

Historical information about St. Mary's Church is provided by 'Parishes: Longworth', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, ed. William Page and P H Ditchfield (London, 1924), pp. 466-471. British History Online [accessed 6 March 2023].

St. Mary's Church is a Grade I listed building. For more information about the listing see CHURCH OF ST MARY, Longworth - 1048616 | Historic England.

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