Church of St James, Cameley

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Church of St James
Stone building with arched windows and square tower, partially obscured by trees. Gravestones in the foreground
Location Cameley, Somerset, England
Coordinates 51°18′57″N 2°33′37″W / 51.31583°N 2.56028°W / 51.31583; -2.56028Coordinates: 51°18′57″N 2°33′37″W / 51.31583°N 2.56028°W / 51.31583; -2.56028
Built 12th century
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated 21 September 1960[1]
Reference no. 32737
Church of St James, Cameley is located in Somerset
Church of St James, Cameley
Location of Church of St James in Somerset

The Church of St James is a redundant church in Cameley, Somerset, England, dating from the late 12th century. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building,[1] and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[2] It is dedicated to St. James of Compostela.[3] The church was declared redundant on 1 January 1980, and was vested in the Trust on 18 March 1981.[4]

There are fragments of wall paintings on the nave north and south walls dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries. One of the earliest is a jester or knave on the north wall who has a hare-lip and forked tongue and is holding a scroll. The north post of the chancel arch has a depiction of the three lions of the Royal Arms of England, which suggests royal patronage. On the south post is a coat of arms with two red chevrons, which is believed to be of the St Maur family (which later became the Seymour family). Almeric de St Maur was master of the Knights Templar in England and a signatory on the Magna Carta. This arms represents evidence of the link between Cameley and Temple Cloud to the Knights Templar.[3]

The fine early-17th-century representation of the Ten Commandments over the chancel arch is framed in twining leaves with cherubs' faces peering out. These remained hidden behind whitewash until the 1960s leading John Betjeman to describe it as "Rip Van Winkle's Church".[5]

Fragment of wall painting showing the three lions of the Royal Arms of England

The west gallery is dated 1711 but with Jacobean style balusters and attached Charles I coat of arms. The south gallery is dated 1819. There are two early-19th-century monuments to the Rees-Mogg family on the north wall of the nave, and a brass plaque commemorating the nine people from the village who died in World War I.[6] The church is surrounded by trees.

The tower, probably from the 15th century with 19th-century restoration, is built of red Mendip stone which contrasts with the local blue lias limestone of the rest of the church. The tower contains a bell dating from 1779 and made by William Bilbie of the Bilbie family.[7]

Several of the monuments in the churchyard are Grade II listed.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Historic England, "Church of St James, Cameley (1320783)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 8 July 2013 
  2. ^ St James' Church, Cameley, Somerset, Churches Conservation Trust, retrieved 31 March 2011 
  3. ^ a b Faith, Juliet. The Knights Templar in Somerset. The History Press. pp. 59–86. ISBN 9780752452562. 
  4. ^ Diocese of Bath and Wells: All Schemes (PDF), Church Commissioners/Statistics, Church of England, 2011, p. 1, retrieved 31 March 2011 
  5. ^ Scott, Shane (1995). The hidden places of Somerset. Aldermaston: Travel Publishing Ltd. p. 22. ISBN 1-902007-01-8. 
  6. ^ "Cameley WWI Ref: 7503". United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  7. ^ Moore, James; Rice, Roy; Hucker, Ernest (1995). Bilbie and the Chew Valley clock makers. The authors. ISBN 0-9526702-0-8. 
  8. ^ Historic England, "Group of 2 Tombs, 10 metres south of chancel, Church of St James, Cameley (1320784)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 8 July 2013 
  9. ^ Historic England, "Naish monument 2 metres south-east of south porch, Church of St James, Cameley (1129538)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 8 July 2013