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The Chapel

South-east view of Rycote Chapel, 1822.

Rycote Chapel was founded by Richard and Sibyl Quatremains. It is dedicated to Saint Michael and All Angels and is said to have been consecrated in 1449 (MS. Gough Oxon. 31, fol. 220r). It is, however, clear that an earlier chapel existed at Rycote. On 16 November 1295 Fulk de Rycote is recorded as baptising his son and namesake in the chapel at Rycote (Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 6, p. 78).

Rycote Chapel was built in the perpendicular style and retains many of its original fifteenth-century features. It is also notable for its remarkable seventeenth-century fittings which include two elaborate enclosed pews. The pew on the north side of the chancel, covered by a musicians' gallery and known as the Norris pew, is thought to date from c.1610 (Hussey, 'Rycote', p. 24). The domed pew on the south side of the chancel is believed to have been installed for the visit of Charles I in 1625 (Sherwood & Pevsner, Oxfordshire, p. 748).

Following the demolition of the Tudor mansion at Rycote in 1807, the Chapel fell into a state of disrepair. Writing in 1883, Frederick George Lee described it as being in "a great state of dilapidation, the internal fittings having become rotten and destroyed, and the roof scarcely water-tight. Many copies of an old and rare edition of the Book of Common Prayer, viz. that published in the first year of King James I, remained there within my remembrance, lying tattered upon moth-eaten and inodorous cushions" (Lee, Thame, p. 338). Despite this, the Chapel vault continued to be used as the final resting place of the Earls of Abingdon and the Bertie family throughout the nineteenth century.

It was not until the first quarter of the twentieth century that the Chapel began to be restored to its former glory. The process of restoration began under Alfred St. George Hamersley following his purchase of Rycote Park in 1911 (Brown & Guest, Thame, p. 135). The Chapel was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1933. Further renovation works were undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works in the 1950s and 1960s before the Chapel was officially opened to the public in 1967 (Ministry of Public Building and Works, Rycote Chapel, pp. 1-2).

The Chapel

Your comments: Add to the archive

My sister did ancestral research and discovered that we are descended from Baron Henry Norris.

Having found Sir Henry's Portrait there is a stunning resemblance between us.

I hope one day to be able to visit and experience his world in person.

Lewis C. Hall 23/03/2020

We visited Rycote Chapel yesterday while wallking the Oxford Way. It was so peaceful to enter and comes with such an extraordinary history. The delightful lady guide mentioned that two services a year are held in the Chapel and we wondered if we might be able to attend them?

Thank you and kind regards

Ruth Wooldridge

Ruth Wooldridge 18/08/2019

How wonderful is history, I pass this on my way to work and I just needed to know more...

Norma 16/02/2018

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