Radley History Club logo Timeline of Radley Church: Early Origins 600–1500
Wider Events
St Birinus   Bayeaux Tapestry
St Birinus (c.600–649)
  Bayeaux Tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest of 1066

St Birinus, the first bishop of Dorchester, played a major part in the conversion of the West Saxons. He founded churches in the area, including reputedly St Helen’s, Abingdon. The Normans gave us new rulers, including bishops and abbots, but they largely operated through church and civil institutions created in Saxon times.

Norman window   Early English window   Perpendicular window
Norman 1066–1200   Early English 1200–1290   Perpendicular 1350–1530
The windows of medieval churches are a guide to their age, although village churches could be slow to adopt the latest styles. Radley has some Early English and some Perpendicular. Inside the Church the font is Norman and must have been preserved from the earlier church on the site.
Events in Radley


St Helen’s Church Abingdon reputedly founded by St Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester


Abingdon Abbey founded, but the original foundation did not last and it was re-founded c.975.


Domesday Book. Radley does not get a separate mention, being grouped with Abingdon Abbey. There were separate settlements at Sugworth and Thrupp as well as Radley itself.


Radley’s first church (strictly a chapel at this time) built. While there are indications of this building being Norman, the original church may have been an even earlier Saxon one.


First mention of Radley’s church in the Abbey’s records. They show that Radley was part of the parish of St Helen’s Abingdon. The abbot was rector of St Helen’s and appointed its vicar. The vicar in turn appointed a chaplain for Radley. Tithes were paid to both the rector and vicar, and the latter would have had to pay Radley’s chaplain. The chaplain had a ‘croft’ in Radley ‘in which he was wont to stay’ – the first evidence of a vicarage on the site.


The Saxon/Norman church was destroyed, probably by fire.


Radley’s current church consecrated by Nicholas Longspée, bishop of Sarum (Salisbury).
It is likely that building started at the east end with the chancel, followed by the south transept, in Early English style.


The main part of the current Vicarage built.


The Black Death reaches Radley. Taxation records indicate that the village did not have a major decline at this time, so it may not have been severe.


The nave, south aisle and tower of the Church were built. They have windows in the Perpendicular style of the time. The current windows in the chancel are also Perpendicular, which suggests that it was rebuilt at this time. The south transept is the only Early English survival. It is widely believed that a north aisle and transept were also built, but were later destroyed in the Civil War.

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