St James Parish Church is a 15th century rebuilding of an earlier church. It was funded by the wool trade. The tower is the major architectural feature, reaching up 120 feet, twice the height of the length of the nave.
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Twelve lime trees (six on either side) mark the south porch entry. They were planted in 1770. The south porch was built in the 14th century but has undergone renovations and alterations over the centuries. The outer doors are 13th century. Over the doorway in a niche now empty was a statuette. Above the porch is a muniment room, once a schoolroom, but now a place to store old church documents and records which are displayed. A muzzled bear corbel survives here from the Norman church.
The south aisle of the church has parts from the 13th century building. In the south-east corner by the south chapel is a 13th century piscina. The 1830 font is a copy of a 15th century one found in St Mary Magdalene in Oxford. The south chapel (Gainsborough chapel) has memorials to the Hicks and Noel families. The chapel dates from the 16th century and was funded by Sir Baptist Hicks.
The pulpit dates from 1612 and has Jacobean carving for decoration. A half font nearby has an early English floral border on a Normal bowl. It is only half there as in 1727 it was vandalized by a church warden.
The chancel has a window over the arch of painted glass. Brasses of wool merchants are located in the floor. The roof of the chancel is thought to be 15th century with 17th and 20th century restorations. The east window of the chancel has some 15th century glass but the rest is modern. The sedilia date from the same period.
On the north wall of the sanctuary is a canopied tomb of Sir Thomas Smith who was lord of the manor of Campden until 1593. He lived at Henry VIIIís court. The oldest tomb in the church is found in the recess of the chancel north wall and dates from the 13th century.
A brass lectern is 15th century Flemish. The north chapel was reconstructed in the 15th century. The north aisle door and window are 14th century. There is a crypt underneath the aisle.
The church tower dates from c 1500 and has a peal of eight bells. The original clock mechanism is from 1675 and is now under the tower. An electric one replaced it in 1962. The 1682 chiming apparatus was also replaced. The west window of the tower dates from 1876. Some of the church treasures are beneath the tower and include 15th century altar hangings and a medieval cope (1380).
On the south side of the churchyard are the ruins of Campden House, all that remain of the early 17th century building for Sir Baptist Hicks. The entrance, with two lodges connected by a gate screen, is intact.
St James Parish Church
Chipping Campden, on the B4081/B4035 south-east of Evesham
Tel. 0 1386 841927 (church office)
Open: daily and for regular services on Wed and Sunday
For exact regular and special service times visit the website St James Parish Church
Photos © by Barbara Ballard