St Mary the Virgin, Charlton-on-Otmoor

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Built in 1250 AD St. Mary the Virgin Church of Charlton on Otmoor is considered to be one of the best thousand Churches in UK (see Simon Jenkins “England Thousand Best Churches”, new edition, Penguin Publishers 2000). A unique rood exists where a large wooden cross, solidly covered in greenery, stands on the 16th-century rood screen, said by Nikolau Pevsner to be the finest in Oxforshire. The cross is redecorated twice a year one on 1st May and the other is on 19th September. Every year on 1st May the children from the local primary school, carrying small crosses decorated with flowers, bring a long, flower-decorated, rope-like garland. The cross is dressed or redecorated with locally obtained box foliage. The rope-like garland is hung across the rood screen during the "May Garland Service".

An engraving from 1823 shows the dressed rood cross as a more open, foliage-covered framework, similar to certain types of corn dolly with a smaller attendant figure of similar appearance. Folklorists have commented on the garlands' resemblance to human figures and noted that they replaced statues of St. Mary and St. John which had stood on the rood screen until they were destroyed during the Reformation. Until the 1850s, the larger garland was carried in a May Day procession, accompanied by morris dancers, to the former Benedictine priory at Studley (as the statue of St Mary had been until the Reformation). Meanwhile the women of the village used to carry the smaller garland through Charlton, though it seems that this ceased some time between 1823 and 1840, when an illustration in J. H. Parker's Glossary of Architecture shows only one garland, centrally positioned on the rood screen (Source: Wikipedia, see on ‘Rood’)

St. Mary the Virgin's Church at Charlton is one of the 8 Parish churches in the Ray Valley Benefice.

The Ministry Team comprises A Rector -  The Revd Stephen Hayes , 01869 247813

Revd Lucy Thirtle, 01865 379470, with responsibility for Islip, Woodeaton and Noke

Revd Victoria Mellor, 01865 331124, with responsibiliy for Charlton, Oddington and Murcott

Revd Lisa Holmes,curate in the Benefice

Mrs. Glenys Edwards, Licensed Lay Minister, based in Oddington, 01865 331233;

Mrs. Lynne Lewis, Benefice Administrator, 01869 247813.

Parish boundary view Bird's eye view

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Revd Stephen Hayes
The Rectory
Church Walk
OX25 2UJ
(01869) 247 813 (Rector)

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Holy Communion
We use the Common Worship order of service
Every second and fourth Sunday at 9:00 AM for 1 hour
Common Worship
Family Service
Family and friends are welcome for this service. Children friendly and people of all age can come and worship.
Every first Sunday at 10:30 AM for 1 hour
Family Friendly Refreshments
Family Communion - with provision for children
Common Worship Service.
Every third Sunday at 10:30 AM for 1 hour
Family Friendly Refreshments Common Worship
Evening Prayer
1662 Evening Prayer. Mag and Nunc are chanted, prayers, psalm, versicles and responses said. Sermon.
Every second Sunday at 6:00 PM for 55 minutes
Book of Common Prayer


Mothers and Toddlers
Mothers and Toddlers group meet at Bridge House Fencott . Children age 3-5 are most welcome with their parents/carers. Singing, stories, drawing, colouring and other activities.
Every first Friday at 10:30 AM for 1 hour
Family Friendly Refreshments
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Christingle Service
Sunday 10th December 2017 at 5:00 PM for 1 hour


(Hymn Books / Orders of Service etc.)
Stained Glass
Other information
Honorary curate: The Revd Lucy Rachel THIRTLE
Incumbent: The Revd Stephen Anthony HAYES
A Church Near You ID (venue number): 283
Built: 1250
Architect: a sound fellow, name unknown
Our Patron: Queen's College, Oxford
Archdeaconry: Dorchester (274)
Deanery: BICESTER & ISLIP (27403)
Benefice: The Ray Valley (27/412AJ)
Parish Legal Name: Charlton on Otmoor (270035 )
CofE Church Info: (627035 27/35)
Short URL:
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The current editor is: Lynne Lewis

This page was last updated on Tuesday 15th August 2017
St Mary the Virgin : High Street, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Oxfordshire, OX5 2UA

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