Do come and visit us...
As the Time of Corona fades away, and the joy of life returns, and our wonderful churches are once more open to visitors as they have been open to seekers of both truth and beauty for a 1000 years...
Please plan, dream, imagine... As we once again welcome you to the Land of the Twelve Churches.
St Mary's, Westwell: west end
TWELVE GLORIOUS CHURCHES!
Twelve glorious churches set in 30 square miles of south Cotswold natural beauty, from the north bank of the Thames at Kelmscott to St Mary's Westwell perched above the village pond. A great place to explore by car or bicycle down the country lanes, and plenty of paths to walk too. And, of course, half a dozen country pubs, some with rooms, and all with a warm welcome.
Do come and visit The Land of the Twelve Churches
St Peter's, ALVESCOT: An ancient church which even now sometimes reveals further Norman and Saxon stones, and even Roman bricks in the masonry. Originally there was no tower, but during the 15th century, John Bonde gave 100 sheep to pay for its building. During the 1870s Messrs Slater and Carpenter (no, really!) replaced the roof, and you can see the original roof corbels marooned half way up the wall.
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St Mary's, BLACK BOURTON: Possible Saxon and definite Norman work (chancel, font and carved stone pulpit ) indicate a very old foundation, with wonderful 13th c wall paintings. They were covered at the reformation, uncovered as part of a general restoration in 1866, later re-covered, and not finally shown in permament glory until 1932. Small RAF cemetery, and larger one for Carterton (a nearby town.)
St Peter & St Paul's, BROADWELL: A large cruciform church with a tall spire (quite rare in these parts) paid for by the Knights Templar. Broadwell lay at the centre of a large parish stretching almost from Burford to the Thames, split up during the 19th century. The church was heavily restored, including 'the scraping off of the plaster (much to William Morris's disgust.) The bells are recently restored, and now ring out again.
St Peter's, BROUGHTON POGGS: tucked away on the edge of the hamlet of Broughton Poggs, St Peter's is almost entirely medieval, but the the 18th century and later memorials to the Goodenough family (and a cracking modern one to Richard Burls) bear testament to a continuous and continuing 1000 year history. To sit in the simple calm of St Peter is a joy worth travelling for.
St Peter's FILKINS: Generally reckoned one of George Edmund Street's finest early works, and substantially unchanged since its consecration in 1857. Street, like other Gothic Revivalists liked to design the fittings and fixtures as well as the buildings themselves, and this adds to the atmosphere of 'completeness'. This Victorian gem is a great counterpoint to St Peter's Broughton Poggs only ½ mile away.
St Mary's, HOLWELL: Built in 1895, it is the youngest of the churches in 'The Land of the Twelve Churches' , though it does incorporate stonework from an older chapel of ease. The Flemish panels in the pulpit also pre-date the present building. The organ is a fine Kirkland instrument, and the flamboyant altar was given by the estate owner, Colonel Heyworth-Savage, in memory of his son killed in North Africa in 1941.
St George's, KELMSCOTT: A very old (part Norman) church, and pretty much unaltered since the end of the 15th century. This partly because it was a lesser chapel of ease in the much larger parish of Broadwell, and partly because the keen hand of the Victorian restorers was stayed by William Morris (who lived the village, and his 'anti scrape' beliefs. St George's also has one of the oldest bells in England.
St George's, KENCOT: The 12th c turreted tower gives St George's the appearance of a small castle. The church has some fine stone carving (both ancient & modern), a font of 1641, and a painted memorial to Richard Colchester of 1643. The pulpit marries 17th c woodwork with a 20th century stone base. St George's (unusually) retains its west end gallery, once a common 19th century addition to local churches.
St Matthew's, LANGFORD: One of the most important remaining Saxon buildings in the county, with some statuary even older than the building itself. The Church benefactor and builder, Aelfsige of Faringdon, is lost in in the historical mist, but his work remains, gloriously adapted over the centuries. Once part of the Lincoln diocese, and dedicated to St Mary.
St Margaret's, LITTLE FARINGDON: Given, in 1205, by King John to the Cistercians, the 'White Monks' built and extended the church in Little Faringdon over the next 300 years. There is some top-notch stone carving, some of which was clearly designed to be used by the priests to illustrate their services.
Holy Rood, SHILTON: a church of infinite medieval variety... Changed and extended during several centuries in the care of the wealthy Abbey of Beaulieu, until Henry VIII fell out with e Pope in the 1530s. Thereafter, Holy Rood changed little until the Victorian 'improvers' arrived to add a rood screen, and scrape off the internal plaster. There is a very fine medieval font, and vestigial paintwork on the arches.
St Mary's, WESTWELL: 'The well on the western edge of Oxfordshire' attracted travellers, no doubt, and so a chapel was constructed, and later extended. There is still, almost unbelievably, Norman timberwork, but also memorials to the 17th century patriarch, Charles Trinder, and his extensive family, and also to the well-known Mitford family who lived locally.
We are indebted to Derek Cotterill, of Burford, who took most of the photographs, and did the research for most of these church guidebooks. Thank you, Derek.
Here's a suggestion...
TWELVE GLORIOUS CHURCHES!
Here's a possible route round all of our Twelve Glorious Churches. Of course you can start and finish where you like around the route, stop or not and explore any of the churches (they all welcome visitors!) and villages... And of course there are the five lovely pubs to stop at too! Plus Cotswold Wildlife Park and Cotswold Woollen Weavers...
The c. 30 mile circuit avoids any main roads (eg the A361), and backtracks as little as possible.
What a day you'll have! Do let us know how you get on.
If you would like a copy of the church descriptions, map, and tour guide,
please get in touch at
and we will happily email you one.
We start at Broughton Poggs (B Poggs on the map.) From the wood in which nestles St Peter’s Broughton Poggs, drive back into Filkins, and turn left opposite The Old Bakehouse, under the A361, and left on the Barrington Road. After about 3m take the third right to St Marys Westwell. Continue to St Mary’s Holwell, and onwards to the small crossroads, where we turn left, past the entrance gates of the Cotswold Wildlife Park, across the A361, and on to Shilton.
Go right down through the village and turn right just before the ford, and round ‘the triangle’ (passing Holy Rood Shilton). Then half way up the hill, left towards Alvescot, crossing the B4477 on the way into the village. Turn off by the school to find St Peter’s Alvescot, and then back into the village, left towards Black Bourton turn, and left, and left again onto the lane to St Mary’s Black Bourton.
Back onto the B4020, and left towards Clanfield. Just before the village, turn right on the ‘gated road’, over the old railway bridge, and eventually left opposite Colston Tennis Club towards Langford. Left at the Old Crown, past St Matthews Langford, over the railway again, and right opposite the new farm barn towards Kelmscott, turning right as you enter the village, and past St George’s Kelmscott.
Turn left, then right across the flat river valley to St Margaret’s Little Faringdon. Backtrack slightly, and left to Langford past the village school. Take a left by the war memorial, and right by the Old Crown (the only re-visited road) eventually past St Peter & Paul Broadwell. Then left opposite Astall Farm and past St George’s Kencot, and left onto the B4477. Turn right along the Clock Round, and left through Filkins to St Peter’s Filkins. Enjoy the jaunt!