A compendium of facts, photographs and documents reflecting the vibrant life of St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, Oxford through the ages

Welcome to the dynamic world of St Mary’s, serving the people of Rose Hill, Donnington, Iffley and our thousands of visitors.

First you will find an important overview (The Other Vicar) and our visitor/congregational statistics (Visiting the Thin Spaces). These are followed by the Parish Accounts.

The second section focuses on the fabric itself and its fragility as set out in the recent Quinquennial Report, the Strachey Survey and Statement of Significance.

The third section addresses the historic importance of St Mary’s and just who built it, along with a portrait of the people it was built to serve within the context of their world.

The fourth section is unusual in that it contains a brief overview of antiquarian interest in St Mary’s, Art, Architecture and Tourism, the early artists and engravers and the affect their work had on tourism in Iffley and at St Mary’s. Also included is a fascinating history of the first attempts to protect the west front and the fund-raising for the first sheltercoat application in the 1980s.

The fifth section reveals the plans for a major activity programme, Living Stones and its manifestation for children: Standing where you are: Life in Norman England. It also introduces the Friends of St Mary’s, dedicated to supporting the life and work of the church.

Finally will be found the appendices including one for the effects of the 2016 application of a new sheltercoat. environment and other documents followed by a short bibliography touching on the architecture and work of St Mary’s.


‘The Other Vicar’

The Parish Magazine for a preface by the Revd Sarah Northall, July 2015

‘Visiting the Thin Places’

Parish Magazine article based on Schroeder, I, The Census of 2014-15 for St Mary the Virgin, Iffley 2015

‘Annual Church Report and Finances’

The available reports presented to the latest Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

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‘Quinquennial Report 2014’

Townsend, A, Report on the Condition of St Mary the Virgin Church, Iffley, Oxford, February 2014

‘Strachey Survey 2011’

Strachey S, St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, Oxford, Condition and Recommendation Report, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation Ltd., October 2011

‘Statement of Significance’

Phythian-Adams, MV, Statement of Significance, Iffley, 2013

‘At The Heart of Stone Conservation’

Strachey S, St Mary’s Church, Iffley: at the heart of stone conservation, The Friends of St Mary’s Iffley Annual Report 2015, Oxford 2015


‘Signs and Symbols’

Phythian-Adams, MV, ‘Look at the picture so that you may see what may be their secret’
Signs and Symbols of the plan of Salvation in the Twelfth Century at St Mary’s Iffley, The Friends of St Mary’s Iffley Annual Report 2007, Oxford 2008

‘The Patronage of Iffley’

Phythian-Adams, MV, ‘The patronage of Iffley Church – a new line of enquiry’, Ecclesiology Today, Issue 36, June 2006


‘Art, Architecture and Tourism’

Cosford, R., A Brief History of Tourism to Iffley 2015

‘Restoration 1975-1984’

Strachey S, Restoration of St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, Oxford 1975-1984, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation Ltd, October 2011


ILLUSTRATIONS AND SITE PLANS: Besides the photographs set out above and in this Section, other pictures of the church can be found at on our parish website using the link below. Photographic evidence of the damage can be found throughout and at the end of the ‘Strachey Survey’ found in the ‘Precious Fabric’ chapter of this Section. Paintings and historic etchings can be found in the ‘Protecting our Heritage, accommodating visitors’ chapter of this Section as well.

Links2‘The Architecture Pages’

Cosford, R. at the church’s website iffleychurch.org.uk

Partial Bibliography

Aubrey, J., Chronologica Architectonica, c. 1671, MS Top. Gen c.25 Bodleian Library, Oxford

Barral, ii Altet, The Romanesque, Köln 2001

Bony, J., The English Decorated Style, Oxford 1979

Bork, R., et al, New Approaches to Mediaeval Architecture, Farnham, nd

Blair, J. (ed)., Saint Frideswide’s Monastery at Oxford, Gloucester 1990

Britton, J., Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, 9 vols., 1805-1814

Cocke, T., English Romanesque Art, London 1984

Colvin, H., Essays in English Architectural History, Yale, 1999

Cook, W., The Cathedral Chantilly, 2010

City of Oxford, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, London 1939

Cosford, R. with W Beaver Art, Architecture and Tourism Iffley 2015 click here to redirect

Fernie, E., Architecture of Norman England, Oxford 2002

Fernie, E., Romanesque Architecture, the first style of the European Age, Yale 2014

Frankl, P., and P Crossley, Gothic Architecture, London 2000

Halsey, R., ‘The 12th Century Church of St Frideswide’s Priory, Oxoniensa, LIII, 1988

Ingram, J., Memorials of Oxford including the engravings of John Le Keux from drawings F Mackenzie, Oxford, 1837

Klingenger, F., Animals in Art and Thought, London 1971

Lacey, R., and D Danziger, The Year 1000 London 1999

Marshall, E., An Account of the Township of Iffley in the Deanery of Cuddesdon Oxfordshire: from the earliest notice, Oxford and London, 1870

Minne-Sève, V., and Hervé Kergall, Romanesque and Gothic France New York 2000

Morris, R., Churches in the Landscape, London 1989

Newson, J., ‘Beakhead Decoration on Romanesque Arches in the Upper Thames Valley’ Oxoniensa, vol LXXVIII, 2013.

Nineham, R., Church of St Mary the Virgin, Iffley 2012

Northall, S., ‘The Other Vicar’ Iffley Parish Magazine, 2013

Parker, JH, A Guide to Architectural Antiquities, Oxford 1842

Phythian-Adams, M, ‘Look at the picture so that you may see what may be their secret’ Signs and Symbols of the Plan of Salvation in the Twelfth Century at St Mary’s Iffley, Friends of St Mary’s Iffley, Annual Report, 2007, Iffley 2008. click here to redirect

Phythian-Adams, M V., ‘The Patronage of Iffley Church – a new line of enquiry’ Ecclesiology Today, 36 (2003) click here to redirect

Phythian-Adams, M V., A Statement of Significance, Iffley 2013 click here to redirect

Prina, F., The Story of Romanesque Architecture, München 2011

Ramirez, J., Bird Symbolism in the early mediaeval world and Iffley Church, 2014

Rigold, SE,’Romanesque Bases in and southeast of the limestone belt in Apted, Gilyard-Beer,

Saunders (ed.), Ancient Monuments and their Interpretation, London 1977

Sherwood, Jennifer, Guide to the Churches of Oxfordshire 1989

Sherwood, Jennifer and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Oxfordshire, Middlesex 1974.

Strachey, S., St Mary’s Church: at the heart of stone conservation Iffley 2014 click here to redirect

Strachey S, Restoration of St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, Oxford 1975-1984, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation Ltd, October 2011

Strachey, S., St Mary the Virgin Church, Iffley, Oxford Condition and Recommendation Report, Iffley, 2011 click here to redirect

Stalley, R., Early Mediaeval Art Oxford 1999

Townsend, A., Report on the Condition of St Mary the Virgin Church, Iffley, Oxford, Faringdon 2014 click here to redirect

Thurley, Simon, ed., Men from the Ministry London 2013

Tyack, G., ‘The Restoration of Iffley Parish Church, Oxoniesnia, LXVIII 2003

Tyack, G., Oxford: an Architectural Guide, Oxford 1998

Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, vol 5, London 1957

Wheeler, R, Oxfordshire’s Best Churches, King’s Sutton 2013

Wischermann, H., ‘Romanesque Architecture in Great Britain’ in Tolman, R., et al Romantik: architecture, sculpture, painting Köln 2007

Young, B., The Villein’s Bible, stories in Romanesque carving, London 1990