Evenlode Vale Churches
 

St Nicholas Oddington

Services

Services at St. Nicholas are limited to services in the summer and St. Nicholas' Day and Christmas Eve services which are candle lit. Please see the links below to find out about forthcoming services and events.

Contact Us:

Any specific enquiries can be directed to the Churchwarden:

Cammy Aston

Tel: 01608 659263

 

Please see the links below for any further information:

Saint Nicholas, Oddington

 

** Ancient woodland setting. Doom mural

 

St Nicholas Oddington  “is  hidden, like an old sea chest shoved away in the attic. It lies down a track half a mile from the village, its original settlement probably deserted by plague. The churchyard is filled with yews, behind which rises a thick wood of beeches. The church, ruined for many years and restored only in the last century, is too grand for a mere village. This is an abbey in the woods near what was the residence of a 13th century Archbishop of York. A visit by Henry III led to the addition of an Early Gothic nave and chancel alongside the old Norman ones.”

So says Simon Jenkins in his book  England’s Thousand Best Churches.

 

The church was built in Saxon times and belonged to St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester, but was ceded to the See of York in 1157. The Archbishop of York was also Lord of the Manor of Oddington, and Henry III often stayed at the Archbishop’s residence. Henry’s visit led to a major expansion of the church.

 

The Doom Painting

Painted in about 1340 and covering almost the entire western half of the north wall of the nave, the Doom is one of the largest representations of this subject surviving in England.  See over for detailed description of the painting.

 

The old nave is now the south aisle, divided from the new nave by a three bay arcade. A new tower was built over the old chancel, which became a chapel. The South porch has a huge mass dial and traces of two smaller ones. Note also the curious markings on the stone bench, where yeomen of old sharpened their arrows. In the 1300s two handsome decorated windows were inserted into the the aisle wall, but were destroyed in the Civil War. (The village was the scene of much fighting  and in 1643 the Royalists, under Prince Rupert, suffered a major defeat in Oddington.)

 

Inside the church the octagonal font is of the Perpendicular period (15th century). The richly carved pulpit is Jacobean, the Chancel rails and the Altar Table are Cromwellian.

 

In 1852 a new parish church Holy Ascension was built and a few years later St Nicholas was left derelict. In 1912 restoration was begun and in 1913 the wall painting, which had been whitewashed, was uncovered. In the 1970s the painting was restored and the bells which had been silent and dangerous for many years restored. The peal contains the oldest bell from 1684 as well as bells from 1706 and 1738. The other 3 are from the Whitechapel Foundry in 1973.

 

The church is listed Grade 1 as are 2 monuments in the graveyard and the church is in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

The Doom Painting

Notes by the Perry Lithgow Partnership who have carried out recent restoration.

 

Painted in about 1340 and covering almost the entire western half of the north wall of the nave, the Doom is one of the largest representations of this subject surviving in England. At the top centre of the painting is a figure of Jesus, flanked by apostles and saints, and below this are two angels sounding a trumpet to waken the dead. The bottom of the image shows the dead rising from their graves to be judged. Some are awaiting admittance at the gates of heaven, while others are being dragged into hell, where the fearsome figure of Satan surrounded with his imps awaits them.

 

To the east is a separate and possibly later painting that has been variously identified as the Corporal Acts of Mercy, Seven Deadly Sins or the Weighing of the Souls. It has also been suggested (by John Edwards in 1986) that it represents characters from John Skelton’s morality play “Magnificence” which is assumed to be a satire on Cardinal Wolsey, who was Lord of the Manor of Oddington at the time.

 

These wall paintings are of an exceptional national importance, the Doom especially, for the completeness of the scheme and the fine quality of the decoration , which belies its limited palette. The painting has largely avoided the deliberate destruction and defacement that many other wall paintings suffered during the Reformation and, as such is a remarkable survival of the medieval period.

 

There are other wall paintings of the same period in the chapel under the tower. They include a fragmentary Nativity with Joseph wearing a Jews hat. Below the death and funeral of the Virgin.

 

The Church today

Some local people formed an informal Friends of St Nicholas group in 2014 with a view to restoring regular services at St Nicholas. This started in 2015 but early in 2016 the copper covering of the main nave roof was stolen and a storm during the night caused considerable damage to the Doom painting. Thanks to the “The Listed Places of Worship” fund a grant was received which, with donations, allowed the roof to be replaced with stainless steel, a roof alarm fitted and the painting restored. The church reopened in August 2017 and now has a full programme of services between April and October with two candlelit services in December.

The church has no electricity and therefore no heating or lighting!

In view of thefts and damage done in the past we do not feel able to leave the church unlocked. A team of volunteers open the church most days from about 9am until about 5pm depending on the light. In poor weather it may not be opened regularly in January or February. If anyone is coming from some distance or want to bring a group do please contact either Peter Davis on peter.davis@benwellhouse.com or 01451 830224 or Jane Lloyd on ljmlloyd@yahoo.com or 01451 830203 to make arrangements.

 

The church needs a lot of work on it in the next few years. We launched a £75,000 fund raising drive last year and have just hit the half way mark. Thank you all who contributed and any visitors are asked to notice the wall safe! Get in touch with Peter above for more information.The priority is to repair or replace the remaining roofs of the tower, chancel and porch and replace the gutters to reduce damp. The wooden platforms on which the pews rest need urgent attention as does the glass. The church yard needs a great deal of work and the trees need cutting back to create more light.