Foxcombe Road, Boar’s Hill, Oxfordshire
This is a simple but attractive converted garage in the garden of a fine Edwardian house. Its primary interest lies in the furnishings it contains from Eric Gill’s chapel at Piggotts.
It was from Boar’s Hill that Matthew Arnold was inspired to write of the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford, inspiring many to climb the hill, and some to buy plots and build houses. The place was very popular with poets. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited includes ‘advice from a fourth year man…keep clear of Boar’s Hill’.
The church is built from a converted garage in the grounds of Grace Dieu, an Edwardian house belonging to the Newdigate family, which was given to the Dominicans as a rest home. The garage was given to the parish in 1945 and converted into a chapel dedicated to St Thomas More.
In 1960 Grace Dieu passed from the Dominicans to the diocese. The house is now privately owned.
In 1963 the contents of Eric Gill’s chapel at Piggotts, Buckinghamshire, were given to Fr Crozier, the priest serving North Hinksey parish, and some of the furnishings came to Boar’s Hill.
The building is a converted Edwardian garage, roughcast with tapering buttresses at the corners and timber framing/ashlaring under the eaves. The sanctuary is a later addition, presumably dating from 1945. The roof is tiled.
The interior is plain, and notable above all for the furnishings (plain stone altar and tabernacle) from Eric Gill’s chapel at Piggotts (described in Speaight, p.199), brought here in 1963. The painted wooden rood figures on the east wall are by Gabriel Pippitt, and were placed in the chapel for the opening in 1945. Pippitt worked with Mgr Hugh Benson, whose artistic community at Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire was similar in many respects to Gill’s at Ditchling and Piggotts. His work can also be found at St Mary’s, Woolhampton (Douai Abbey) and St Thomas More, Boscombe (Bournemouth).
Original Date: 1900
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed