St James' Church, Cameley, Somerset

Address:
Cameley, Bristol, Somerset, BS39 5AH
How to find us | Access information
Opening times:
Opened by volunteers, open daily
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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 fifteenth-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 twelfth to the seventeenth centuries. Fragments that have been identified, including the fine early seventeenth-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 eighteenth-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.

Comment

  • Access information

    There are three deep steps down into the church.

  • Facilities & Hire

    There is fixed seating for 105 in the nave pews (some box pews) with a central aisle 109 cms wide. There is easily room to put out a further 20 chairs without hindering a swift exit. The gallery cannot take more than five persons.

  • Directions
    10 miles north east of Wells, off A37 (1 mile west from Temple Cloud) and 6 miles north west of Midsomer Norton.
  • Transport
    Nearest railway station: Keynsham (7.6 miles), Bristol Temple Meads (9.2 miles)
  • History & Further Information

    Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church 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.

    Somerset County Guide 2012

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

  • Community information

    All our Somerset churches are in our West region.

    The Friends of St James' Cameley

    The Friends assist The Churches Conservation Trust in caring for the church, organising events and raising funds for the building's upkeep.

    Contact Ronald Bradley on 01761 452 353

    Useful local links

    About the Friends of St James Church Contact: Ronald Bradley Telephone: 01761 452 353