Building » East Hendred – St Mary

East Hendred – St Mary

St Mary’s Road, East Hendred, Oxfordshire

The epitome of Romantic feudal Catholicism. The church, linked presbytery and school are all by C. A. Buckler, a notable figure in the Gothic Revival, and form an attractive group of buildings to the south of Hendred House. The site has seen continuous Catholic worship since the Middle Ages.

The Manor of Hendred passed by marriage to the Eyston family in the mid-fifteenth century, and remains in their ownership. The chapel, dedicated to St Amand, was built in or shortly before 1265, and is reputed to be one of only three pre-Reformation churches which have never been used for Protestant services. It remains in private ownership (although there is a weekly public Mass on Fridays) and is therefore not included in this survey.

During the Penal years Hendred House became a centre of recusancy, and there is a Priest’s Hole in the roof next to St Amand’s chapel. The chapel was restored in 1687, during the brief reign of the Catholic James II, but was sacked by soldiers of William III in the following year. The building was repaired, and continued to serve the mission until the opening of the new church in 1865. In 1862 Bishop Grant of Southwark consecrated a new altar, and the building was restored by C.A. Buckler (architect also of the new church of St Mary).

On 24 June 1863 Charles Eyston Esq conveyed a site about 200 yards to the south of the old chapel for a new church, churchyard, priest’s house, together with an endowment for the support of a priest. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on the same day. The building was completed by the end of the following year and consecrated by Bishop Grant on 17 August 1865 (the day after he consecrated the churchyard). The priest’s house was completed by the end of that year, together with a bridge over the road connecting it with the church. To the south of the presbytery are the school buildings, with teacher’s residence. The builder was R. P. Davison of Oxford and the cost (of the church) was £1,743.00.

The architect was Charles Alban Buckler of Oxford. Buckler (1825-1905) was the son of the architect John Chessell Buckler and the grandson of the architect and topographical draughtsman John Buckler. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1844, when he assumed the name Alban. He devoted his life to the study of ecclesiastical art and architecture, church history, liturgy and heraldry. His preferred style was that of the thirteenth century; his principal works are the Dominican church at Haverstock Hill and the restoration and augmentation of Arundel Castle. In the present Portsmouth diocese he was also responsible for the church of St Edward at Windsor (opened in 1868).

The church is built of brick faced in Boxhill stone. The east, south and northeast windows of the sanctuary are by Hardman (1864), as is the southeast nave window (1879). The sculpture is by Boulton of Worcester (The Builder).

The covered way linking the church and presbytery has been much altered in the 20th
century, but is assumed to be the original structure. The Buildings of England refers to furniture in the presbytery, said to have come from Pugin’s house at Ramsgate. These items were put on the market in about 1983 andbought by the Palace of Westminster, where they were placed in the Speaker’s House (information from Dr Rory O’Donnell).

The former school has now been converted to offices.

Heritage Details

Architect: C.A. Buckler

Original Date: 1863

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II