The church at Clifton Campville: lordship and community 12th and early 13th centuries



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Remnants of William de Camville’s church – late 12th/early 13th centuries

These views of the exterior north wall of the chancel show Early English lancet windows. They survive from the late 12th/early 13th century building constructed during the lordship of William de Camville, who was lord of the manor from before 1200 until after 1210.


In the lower picture, the lancet window has been blocked at a later date, perhaps when the newer window seen in the picture was inserted in the 15th century.
Photo © I M Curr


Photo © I M Curr



Late 13th and early 14th centuries

The Camville family continued to be lords of Clifton throughout the 13th and early 14th centuries, although investment in the manor seems to have been interrupted during the 1240s when there was a dispute over the ownership of the manor between two of William’s grandsons, who were half brothers. Their widows pursued the legal case in vain when Geoffrey Camville, probably William’s great-grandson, became lord of the manor in 1260.13 In the 1290s Geoffrey was created 1st Baron Camville.14 His status as a baron put him in a position where he would be expected to invest in his lordship and so it is not surprising that his period as lord corresponds with a significant phase of building in the church: a cruciform building was created by adding two transverse chapels to William’s simple two-cell building of a hundred years before. [see Fig. 1] It is worth noting that, during Geoffrey’s time as lord of Clifton (1260 to c.1308), the rector of the church (from 1299 to 1323) was Jordan de Camville, who may well have been a relative of Geoffrey, thus forging particularly close links between the manor and the church.


The north transverse chapel

The north chapel which was built by Geoffrey still survives in almost its original form: the chapel on the ground floor and living quarters above. [see Fig. 3] It is possible that it was designed as a chantry chapel with accommodation for a chantry priest, but there is no documentary evidence to corroborate this.15 A detailed survey of this chapel was made in the 1990s.16 [Although sometimes called a ‘transept’, the correct terminology is ‘transverse chapel’ as a transept refers to parts of a church under a central tower, which does not exist at Clifton.]











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