Saint James, Jamestown
Saint James' Church is a church on the island of Saint Helena and is part of the Diocese of St Helena. It is situated in the capital Jamestown and is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere; the present building was put up in 1774.
Oliver Cromwell granted a new charter to the English East India Company in 1657, which gave the Company the right to fortify and colonize any of its establishments. Because of the strategic importance of Saint Helena as a fortress and staging post on the way home from India, the Company claimed the island on 5 May 1659. The building of the fort was commenced immediately and a little town sprang up in the valley with the chapel and was subsequently named Jamestown, after James, Duke of York. The valley, now generally known as James Valley, was called either Saint James Valley or Chapel Valley, after the chapel which was a prominent building as viewed from the bay.
In 1671, the East India Company sent the first of a long sequence of Church of England chaplains. The early, modest little church was replaced by a slightly bigger one in 1674, but was only later named Saint James' church. By 1774 the first parish church in Jamestown showed signs of decay, and so finally a new building was erected. Saint James' is the oldest surviving Anglican church south of the Equator.
It is designated as a Grade I listed building, and is one of many listed buildings (a designation for buildings of historic or architectural merit) in Jamestown. It is situated in the historic centre of Jamestown, close to the shore and to The Castle.
The parish of St James (one of three parishes on the island) consists of Saint James' Church and three daughter churches:
- Saint Paul's Cathedral - the cathedral church of Saint Helena, built in 1851, which replaced another early church on the island
- Saint Matthew, Hutt's Gate
- Diocese of Saint Helena Parish of St James
- The Saint Helena Virtual Library and Archive Drawing from 1683 showing the church in James Valley