Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire

Tower Squint, Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire
I may have drawn your attention to the excellent photography of my friend Martin Beek in some earlier posts, but can I mention his name again.  As well as an being an excellent and photographer with a great eye for detail, Martin is an artist of great breadth and accomplishment who works in a wide range of different media and there is a lot of interest on his Flickr pages.   I was recently drawn to a series of photos he’s taken of Rycote Chapel in Oxfordshire.

Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire

Rycote chapel was built in the late 1450s for Richard and Sybil Quatermayne, to serve a chantry college founded by them in 1449.  The fabric consisting of a west tower, a nave and chancel in one with a barrel ceiling, remains pretty much as they built it.  Inside the building are a series of extraodinary furnishings.  Medieval benches and stalls still remain in the chancel, but the rest of the furnishings are early seventeenth century and high church.  On either side of the rood screen, which is a remodelled medieval screen, are two vast family pews.  That on the north is the pew of the Norreys family, who were lord’s of the manor.  Above it a musician’s gallery.  The pew to the south, with it’s ogee canopy painted like a night sky within, was apparently built for Charles I when he visited Rycote in 1625.  With four angels at the corners, it was once topped with an image of the Virgin Mary, an iconographical display that would have enraged any seventeenth century Puritan.  In the chancel is a reredos of 1610 and an altar surrounded by balustered rails of the later seventeenth century.  Rycote chapel is a glorious example of an Anglican high church interior from those decadent first decades of the seventeenth century and is rare to have survived unscathed.      

Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire

Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire

Rycote, Oxfordshire

3 thoughts on “Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire

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  1. I first encountered Rycote, which I have never visited, when John Betjeman did an “A-Z” television series on English churches, around 1960. Inevitably “Z” was Zennor, but aside from “R” for Rycote, I have no active memory of the other churches (Ottery St Mary, maybe?). Do copies of the programmes survive in the BBC's archives? Be fun to see again, even in murky black and white. Betjeman was totally in his element. Wonderful photographs by Martin Beek. Thank you both.Seem to remember from Simon Jenkins (correctly – I just checked) that the reredos, like the rails, is late 17th c (1682). Also recall, apparently from another source, that the earlier 17th c reredos is preserved at the west end of the building.


  2. By “correctly” I meant that my memory of reading this in Jenkins' book is correct, not that his dating is necessarily right.


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