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Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
 
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A trim straggling village with an old grey manor house by a row of wayside elms, Brize Norton has a fine tower 700 years old and a medieval church with long and gabled roofs. Grotesque heads look down from the tower. There is a beautiful 13th century bellcot with a spire, and a porch built to protect a Norman doorway when the doorway was still new. A fine entrance it is for this plain little church, for its lovely arch has chevrons continuing to the floor, with a pillar on each side, and on one of the capitals is a bird preening its feathers. Over the door is a sunken panel carved with a tree.

The nave arcade is 13th century, with low round pillars; the chancel arch is by the same English builders, but there is Norman influence in the chancel. An odd piscina has been cut in a window splay, and another in the wall next to it. The bowl of the font is Norman, with bold arcading. The oak chancel screen, painted red, green, and gold, has in it much medieval work.

A knight of the 14th century, Sir John Daubyngne lies under an arch, a very unusual figure in mail. We look at him through two trefoil openings in the stone, seeing through one his head and shoulders and his hands clasped in prayer, and through the other his spurred legs crossed below the knee.

This church is the only one in England dedicated to St Brice, from whom the village takes its name. He was educated by St Martin, the famous Bishop of Tours who divided his cloak with a beggar. Naturally clever, he grew too proud of his own learning and bore himself insolently even to the bishop, so making many enemies; but Martin continually made excuses for him, and even announced that the young monk was to be his successor. When St Martin died St Brice became Bishop of Tours, and his responsibilities changed him completely. After a faithful and diligent life he was buried next to St Martin in a church he himself had built in honour of the bishop who believed in him.

The King's England Oxfordshire (1942) by Arthur Mee. Original transcription by CuriousFox, edited for watermarking purposes.


 
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