St John the Baptist

An ancient painted wonder saved by William Morris.

About this church

This exquisitely beautiful and fascinating 13th century church stands on a gentle rise of land above waterside meadows near the Thames, only a stone's throw from the Thames, and just off the Ridgeway Path it is a frequent stopping point for walkers.

Pioneering Victorian designer William Morris, who lived at nearby Kelmscott, oversaw St John's restoration in the 19th century, ensuring it kept its original medieval identity.

An amazing series of paintings, from the 13th to the 19th century, cover the walls often with one painted over another, in places seven layers thick. While it is not always easy to puzzle out the subjects, you can see 15th century angels above the chancel arch, an early 14th century doom on the east wall of the north aisle, and several 19th century texts, as well as a 13th century masonry pattern throughout the chancel.

There is an unusual and powerful Saxon stone carving of the Madonna and Child is set in the south wall. The woodwork of the roofs, the 15th century screens and the seventeenth and 18th century pulpit and box pews are all original to the church, and their arrangement is still much as it would have been in Oliver Cromwell's time.

Nearby Lechlade has some lovely places to stop for lunch or a cup of tea.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • On street parking at church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches

St Michael & All Angels

The church is mainly 13th century and Perpendicular although an earlier tympanum of Samson and the Lion survives.


St Mary the Virgin

Fairford's magnificent 'wool' church, rebuilt in the 1490s' and hardly altered since then, deserves a place in any roll call of fine Cotswold churches.

St Mary

This Grade I church is situated on the banks of the Thames.

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