© 2010 Stephen Graham

St. Mary’s Church Churchill – Magdalen Tower Oxford

St. Mary’s Church in Churchill was Designed by James Plowman of Oxford, the tower is a two-thirds copy of the tower of Magdalen College, Oxford, its hammerbeam roof a copy of the roof of Christ Church, Oxford, its buttresses are versions of those of the chapel of New College, Oxford, and its windows are based on those from various Oxford Colleges.

In a restoration appeal for the tower in 1975, Sir John Betjeman (see my photo from Sir John Betjeman’s grave here www.flickr.com/photos/iboogaloo/2540401761/) wrote of it:

“It is a beautiful landmark and has […] been an eye-catcher for miles around, and a delightful one. I am sure it was built with this object in view. Although the style is English Perpendicular Gothic, the Tower is in the great tradition of English landscape gardening. Its disappearance would be a grave loss to a rolling wooded landscape.”

The tower has external stairs which lead to the bell-ringers’ chamber, the top of the staircase being in the form of a pulpit. In imitation of the May morning celebrations at Magdalen College, villagers gather at sunrise on 1 May every year and sing from the stairs and pulpit.


St. MMary's Church Churchill, Original PhotoYou can see the original image that came out of my camera. It was because I found the image so disappointing that I started to make such dramatic changes to it. I probably would not have ended up with the high key, black and white conversation at all had I taken a better shot in the first place.

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