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Church of St Clement, Oxford

Description: Church of St Clement

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 12 January 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 245644

OS Grid Reference: SP5270606330
OS Grid Coordinates: 452706, 206330
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7532, -1.2379

Location: B4150, Oxford OX3 0EG

Locality: Oxford
Local Authority: Oxford City Council
County: Oxfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: OX3 0EG

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Listing Text

612/11/129 MARSTON ROAD
12-JAN-54 (West side)

1827-8 by Daniel Robertson, restored c.1875 by E G Bruton.

MATERIALS: Stone rubble with cement details, blocked out in imitation of ashlar. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave and chancel in one, aisles under lean-to roofs, W tower-cum-porch, W doorways in the W bay of each aisle, priest's door in the E bay of the S aisle.

EXTERIOR: St Clement's is built in a neo-Norman style and is long and low with a short tower at the W end. The body of the church is six-bayed and has plain, corbelled parapets. The aisles have pairs of round-headed windows under a semi-circular super-arch, the windows being shorter over the doorways. The doorways are round-headed with a heavy roll-moulding. At the E end there is a two-light window similar to those in the aisles and which is set in a slight projection. The ends of the aisles have one-light E and W windows. The tower is of three stages, the lowest forming a porch with steps up to it leading to a large triple roll-moulded round-headed doorway. The W window is large and is formed of a pair of tall round-arched lights. The belfry windows are similar but lower with three lights to the E and W and one to the N and S. At the corners the tower has shallow clasping pilaster-buttresses

INTERIOR: The arcades are of six bays with tall circular piers with sharply-carved capitals, based on water-leaf motifs, and round-headed, roll-moulded arches. The E responds are polygonal. There is no structural division between nave and chancel and the roof continues through both without interruption. It is canted, with three sides, and is divided into panels by moulded timbers. The principal rafters spring from a moulded stone wall-plate with wall-plate corbels alternating with stone shafts on carved corbels. The W wall has an internal two-light window in a large corbelled recess: it has nook shafts and patterned relief carving in the spandrel above the lights. At the E end of the chancel the window has nook shafts and an ashlar panel below a super-arch.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The reredos is of three stone panels with an Agnus Dei mosaic in the centre flanked by lozenge-pattern marble inlay. Painted lozenges extend across a stone dado to either side of the reredos. The floor is tiled with the sanctuary area, with its encaustic tiles being more elaborate than the nave. The font, of the 1870s, has an octagonal bowl and hollow-chamfered cornice with a bean moulding. The bowl is decorated with semi-circular panels carved with anthemion motifs. The wooden pulpit is a curious 1870s piece of three sides with round-headed arches, pierced at the top and with tiers of jewel decoration. The neo-Norman benches are most unusual and have round-headed ends with zig-zag decoration and wooden nook shafts with cushion capitals. The E window contains stained glass with roundels said to be by the local craftsman Isaac Hugh Russell who lived in the parish in the 1830s. If the window is as early as the 1830s it is an extraordinarily early example of an archaeological design. The N aisle includes three good windows of 1865, probably by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. These windows were moved here from the church of St Martin in 1896. At the E end of the N aisle is a late C19 window by Powell's. Wall plaques include two in the neo-Norman style. Bells from the old church include one cast in the C13, the oldest bell in Oxford.

HISTORY: The old church of St Clement stood E of Magdalen Bridge and the new one was built to cope with demographic change following slum clearance and the development of industrial communities after the Oxford canals were built. It was founded by John Hudson and cost £6,032, and the choice of design has been claimed as being inspired by the famous Norman church at Iffley. The land was given by Sir Joseph Locke. John Newman (later Cardinal Newman) was curate at St Clement's until 1828 and hence while money was being subscribed for the new church. Keble and Pusey subscribed but the main benefactors were the Morrell family of Headington Hall.

St Clement's is a remarkable building for its time. The Norman Revival is mainly associated with a short period between the late 1830s and mid-1840s so St Clements is a very early example. The church at Kenninghall, Berks, is thought to be by the same architect and that too dates from 1828. What is also of significance is the way the 1870s restorer, E G Bruton, was careful to follow the stylistic precedent of the building at a time when Gothic had virtually swept all before it in works of church building and restoration. The pews are particularly unusual and significant.

Daniel Robertson was probably a pupil of Robert and James Adam and appears to have been related to them. He was involved in speculative building in London in the 1810s and his first recorded architectural commission was the alteration of premises in Pall Mall for the Travellers' Club in 1821. He obtained several commissions in Oxford, notably the design of the new University Press building in Walton Street built in 1826-30. He also restored the Gothic front of All Souls College. In 1829 he left Oxford for Ireland, perhaps after some (unknown) discreditable incident (Colvin).

Edward George Bruton (d 1899) was an Oxford-based architect. He succeeded to the practice of H J Underwood in 1852 and developed a busy practice in Oxfordshire and the adjacent counties, making a speciality of church work.

Church guide
Jennifer Sherwood and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, 1974, p 291.
Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed, 1995, pp 822-3.
Antonia Brodie et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 2, 2001, p. 284.

The church of St Clement, Marston Road, Oxford, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a very significant and extremely early example of church-building in the revived Norman style.
* Although later, the fixtures are highly interesting and important in following the style of the existing building, as well as having intrinsic design merits.
* The church was an early response to the challenge if C19 urban growth, involving the notable cleric John Newman in its genesis.
* Its consistency of style is enhanced by its intactness.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.