St Mary's, Uffington, Oxfordshire
St Mary's Church at Uffington, Oxfordshire, is unusual in having a prominent central tower and strong connections to the late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who was once a church warden here. Its large size and ground plan have earned it the nickname "Cathedral of the Vale' as it can be found in the valley beneath the hill of the Uffington White Horse.
www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/sets/72157603667346378/ to see the full set.
The church was founded around 1146 by the Abbot of Abingdon. The present structure is an early 13th century rebuilding by Abbot Faritus of Abingdon. The building was repaired in the 1670s but the original spire was destroyed by storms in 1740 and not rebuilt until 1746 as the present tower.
The church design is roughly cruciform with north and south transepts. A sacristy was formerly on the north side of the chancel but this was later demolished. Its loss restored the cruciform ground plan.
In the south transept is the tomb of John Saunders of Woolstone (d. 1599) with the man himself modelled casually lying on his side and watching the congregation walk past.
I must admit that I was expecting more from a church with a strong Betjeman connection as he wrote at great length about other churches. I found Uffington well kept inside but rather gaunt and uninspiring. I came away somewhat disappointed. Betjeman's main contribution as churchwarden appears to have been ensuring the oil lamps were retained when the then vicar installed electric lighting at his own expense. Betjeman's relatives retain connections with the village to this day.