ST MARGARET of ANTIOCH . BINSEY . OXFORD
GRADE I † C12 origins on site of Saxon church; c13 rebuilding (chancel, nave), S porch added; C15 & later restorations (latest in 1936). Unheated and candlelit until 1975. Much of interest – remarkably secluded location, a Holy well, a direct link with Alice in Wonderland, an excellent riverside pub. Within ring road W of Oxford, N of Botley Road, at the end of a mile of narrow lane. Check a map before you go… 51.7691 / 1.2976 / SP485080
❖ The clearest illustrated article about St Margaret, its history, and its significance can be found at David Ross’s excellent BRITAIN EXPRESS. This includes the sad story of the celibate St Frideswide (C7), Patron Saint of Oxford and a roundabout system, & her suitor Algar. It also covers the origins of the Holy well, its healing powers and its link to Alice’s ‘treacle well’. An informed tour of the church ends with helpful directions to it.
On the quoin RHS of the porch entrance, with a large slightly recessed gnomon hole. A morning dial, very eroded in the 3 other quadrants. Originally encircled (BSS)? The visible evidence of a complete circle is scant. 8 lines, some extending over split stone. The noon line is emphasised – longer and deeper cut. A hint of double pocks at lower end – just possibly a dotted cross ✣?
Located on the nave buttress adjoining the chancel. 4 lines radiating from a central hole in the dial stone, one slightly curved; 7 clear pocks all on or at the end of the lines. Unlike dial 1, there is no exact vertical line. The puzzle is to identify the noon line. On some dials, there is a notional noon line formed by a narrow gap between 2 near-vertical lines – not the case here. Presumably it is line 2, being extended and having 2 pocks. Line 3 is too flimsy for the task. Line 1 presumably marks a service time between Terce and noon.
ST MARGARET’S WELL
GRAFFITI ANCIENT & MODERN
There is a certain amount of graffiti in the porch, some of which is not medieval. Included are initials, 2 (unconvincing?) inverted Marian marks; and some scratchings of hard-to-decipher script, something I haven’t often seen.
After your visit you may need refreshment: I recommend the excellent nearby PERCH INN
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Medieval Graffiti
All photos: Keith Salvesen