St James' Church, Cameley, Somerset

Address: Cameley, Temple Cloud, Bristol, Somerset, BS39 5AH
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Somerset's 'Sleeping Beauty'

Set in a fold of the Mendip hills, in the valley of the River Cam, St James’ is an unpretentious and delightful church. It escaped major restoration in Victorian times and remains an unspoilt gem.

This beautiful hillside landmark, with an impressive 15th-century tower built of warm red Mendip sandstone with a handsome parapet, assaults the senses and contrasts with the humbler local blue lias limestone of the rest of the church.

Inside you are immediately struck by the wallpaintings. Here, even the porch shows some traces of paint. The fabulous wallpaintings are from the 12th- to the 17th-centuries. Fragments that have been identified, including the fine early 17th-century Ten Commandments over the chancel arch, framed in twining leaves with enchanting cherubs’ faces peering out.

The interior has a warm and appealing atmosphere; its features and fittings are a delightful mixture of periods. The nave walls lean slightly outwards, betraying their great age, and the flagstone floor slopes gently downhill.

There are Medieval benches as well as Georgian pews, an early 17th-century pulpit, a west gallery dating from 1711, and a south gallery from 1819 inscribed in handsome lettering 'for the free use of the inhabitants’. Along the walls of the nave are rows of 18th-century hat pegs for gentlemen to hang their hats.

Poet John Betjeman described St James’ as 'Rip Van Winkle’s Church’ – asleep for centuries and virtually untouched.

Wallpaintings flower logoDiscover more about wallpaintings in this church

 

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How to find us

To locate this church on a map, click on the 'View on map' link that appears below the address information at the top of the page.

Road directions

10 miles north east of Wells, off A37 (1 mile west from Temple Cloud) and 6 miles north west of Midsomer Norton.

Public transport information

Nearest railway station: Keynsham (7.6 miles), Bristol Temple Meads (9.2 miles)

OS Reference No.

ST 610 576

What’s on & news

News

06/01/14 We would like to warn all our volunteers and visitors to take care when visiting our churches due to the…

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Image gallery

Click on images to view larger

Images from Flickr

The CCT is grateful to the Flickr group, Friends of the Churches Conservation Trust, for the images shown here. CCT is not responsible for the quality or content of images taken from Flickr.


Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Useful information

Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit?

You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.



 

 

PDF iconSomerset County Guide (PDF, 4.7mb)

This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in Somerset. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.

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Church of St Thomas a Becket,  Pensford, Somerset

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See church page

Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary,  Emborough, Somerset

Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Emborough, Somerset An elegant church on a Mendip ridge Chapel Hill, Emborough, Wells, Somerset, BA3 4SG
See church page

St Andrew's Church,  Holcombe, Somerset

St Andrew's Church, Holcombe, Somerset In the shadow of the great Abbey of Downside Holcombe, Radstock, Somerset, BA3 5ES
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Nearby attractions

Temple Church

Temple Church The 'leaning tower' and walls of this large late medieval church survived bombing during the Second World War. The graveyard is now a peaceful public garden. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/temple-church

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Have you visited this church?

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Comments

  1. Yvonne Ingley (06 Jul 2012, 22:44)

    My Grandfather Pilgrim was buried in this churchyard about 50 years ago. I haven't been there for a very long time ago but I still remember him and the church......

  2. SCSmith (08 Nov 2012, 12:17)

    I have very recently visited this absolute gem. Parking was a tiny problem but it was so worth the effort of a short walk. The inside was like a going into a timewarp and so beautifully maintained. You felt that you could see the life of the people that went there and the different stages of its evolution but so magically unspoilt. This is one of the best preserved churches I have visited and I give my congratulations to the Trust.

  3. Alan Grove (25 Jun 2013, 18:22)

    It doesn't get better than this. Great location, splendid architecture/history. The outside gallery steps are unusual and the Rees Mogg family are in the graveyard.

    The adjoining hotel was very helpful re parking especially if you buy a drink.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Community information for St James' Church, Cameley

 

All our Somerset churches are in CCT’s West region. 

About the Friends of St James Church

Contact: Ronald Bradley

Telephone: 01761 452 353

Useful local links

Visit Somerset tourism website 

Family Days Out in Somerset 

Somerset & Dorset Family History website 

Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society 

Friends of Somerset Churches & Chapels 

Somerset is in the Diocese of Bath & Wells 

List of churches in Somerset

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

St James' Church, Cameley, Somerset

Keyholder

If the access information for this church is listed as ‘Keyholder nearby’, this means that the key is kept by one of our invaluable volunteer 'keyholders', who usually live just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.

Disabled access

There are three deep steps down into the church.

Facilities

Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.