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Ambrosden, Oxfordshire
 
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Ambrosden was the camp of Ambrosius Aurelianus, the last of the great Romans, summoned here by the despairing Britons to drive back the invading Saxons. There is a glowing picture of him in our first British history by Gildas, who wrote in the 6th century that Ambrosius was a modest man, courteous, faithful, strong and truthful, "and alone of the Romans was left alive in the turmoil of this miserable age." At last, about 516, he died, and the country entered on its Dark Age, lost to history for two centuries. It is left for this retreat among the lanes and quiet meadows to preserve the shining name of this historic figure, whom Geoffrey of Monmouth makes the father of King Arthur and the builder of Stonehenge, both figments of the chronicler's mighty imagination.

Invaders of a race Ambrosius never knew began the clerestoried church, and their Norman doorway, with its beautiful arch, is here still. The 13th century added the massive tower, with its pinnacled battlements and dragon gargoyles; the 14th century gave, the exterior its rich decoration of niched buttresses, carved parapets, and cornices of ballflower, animals, and laughing and weeping heads. There are more sculptured heads on the arches of the nave, and in the 15th century chancel is a pillar bracket with foliage carved so cleverly 700 years ago that it seems to be growing. The font is 15th century. A charming little window has the Good Shepherd in red and gold, and over the tower arch there is a great wall-painting of the resurrection of the dead. Here also is still the 14th century sanctus bell.
The King's England Oxfordshire (1942) by Arthur Mee. Original transcription by CuriousFox, and edited for identification purposes.


 
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