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Mapledurham House and Estate.


St Margaret's Church

A church has existed on this site since Norman times, but the present church was begun in the late 13th century by William Bardolf the younger (d. 1289) and his wife Juliana de Gournay. Little original work is now visible since Butterfield's restoration of 1863 (original church pictured right) .

The south aisle, known as the Bardolf Aisle to commemorate Sir Robert and Dame Amice Bardolf, its builders, survives unaltered (pictured below); it was built at some date between 1381 and 1395, when Sir Robert was buried there. It was originally intended as a chantry chapel, with an altar at the east end; its aumbry is still in the wall to the right. When the Blounts bought the manor in 1490 the aisle became their burial place and still remains their private property. Their rights of ownership were unsuccessfully contested during his incumbency (1829-1854) by Lord Augustus Fitzclarence, although his rights to burial fees were confirmed.

The original entrance to the south-east is now blocked, and entry is through a Tudor doorway to its west. A wooden fence separated church and aisle, replaced by a stone wall after the Norfolk case. There has been no direct access between the two for over 4 centuries The main interest of the Aisle consists in its MONUMENTS and TOMBS. That of Sir Robert Bardolf is the earliest; his magnificent brass, with the royal lion of the kings he served, originally surmounted a table tomb under the eastern arch. The only other surviving brass is the inscription between the arches to Jane Annesley, which strangely fails to record her thirty years' marriage to John Iwardby. To its left is the tomb of Sir Richard Blount and his first wife.(pictured below)

Opposite, to the east, is the memorial to Sir Charles Lister (d. 1613), who left part of his estate to his godson Lister Blount to found a hospital for the poor or a free school for poor children at Mapledurham or Bicester.

The six almshouses of Lister's Hospital still stand in the village, converted now into two cottages. The Trust has been commuted to a capital sum whose interest benefits sick or elderly parishioners. The Aisle's remaining memorials are mainly of the 18th and 19th centuries, marble monuments mostly in classical style.

Of additional interest are the six HATCHMENTS on the walls of the Aisle. The custom of displaying a coat of arms, or "achievement" ("hatchment" is a corruption of the term), originated in the practice of displaying a nobleman's shield, helmet and arms at his funeral. On the death of a nobleman or gentleman a hatchment of his coat of arms was prepared and fixed above his door for twelve months, the period of mourning, and then taken to the church and hung above his tomb. All six hatchments here are of male members of the family.(Below is the hatchment of Michael Henry Blount [1789-1874]-the white background on the right shows that a widow survived her husband.)