From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

St. James Church, Avebury

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County
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Condition
Age
Admission
Church
Wiltshire
51°25'43.1"N 1°51'28.6"W
SU 0997369968
Good
Pre 1000
Free
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  • History
  • Gallery
St. James Church, once known as All Saints, is located in Avebury,Wiltshire and is within close proximity of Avebury Manor and near the Avebury Henge and Stone Circles.

The church was originally built in by the Anglo-Saxons' and the nave dates back to this time, although this was altered by the Normans. The early church was two storeys high, with round-headed windows, three of the these still survive high in the north wall.

Aisles were added to the Saxon nave in the 12th century by the Normans, and access was originally through two low arched openings. The remains of one of these arches can be seen where it has cut away a corner of one of the round-headed windows. These Norman arches disappeared in 1812 when the present arcade was built.

The Saxon chancel was replaced in the late 13th century, but was greatly rebuilt in 1879, the arch still survives.

The Norman aisles had been widened in the 15th century, when the Norman south doorway was moved to its present position.

The tower was built in the 15th century, with bells fitted in 1719-20. These were replaced in 1981, except for the tenor bell. This was then used to strike the hour.

The rood loft is the original dating back to at least the 15th century. This would would have been destroyed after the Reformation and the loft and screen were removed, probably following an order of 1561 from Elizabeth I. It would have been sold off or reused for another purpose, but the Avebury church managed to hide and preserve their rood loft. The timbers were stacked against the east wall of the nave, above the chancel arch, and covered with a lath and plaster wall. This secret was well kept and the timbers were not discovered until 1810. The rood loft was restored in the 1878 - 1884 renovations, with the loft parapet repainted with matching colours to those noted on the woodwork by the architect, Charles E. Ponting.

The tub font is thought to be of Saxon origin but the detailed carving is from the beginning of 12th century.

Today the church is open to the public and is Grade I listed.