St James' Church, Cameley, Somerset
- What's nearby
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.
An elegant church on a Mendip ridge
In the shadow of the great Abbey of Downside
A charming church that hides a tragic history
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.
10 miles north east of Wells, off A37 (1 mile west from Temple Cloud) and 6 miles north west of Midsomer Norton.
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.
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
- Visit Somerset: http://www.visitsomerset.co.uk
- Days Out in Somerset
- Somerset & Dorset Family History: http://www.sdfhs.org
- Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society: http://www.sanhs.org
- Friends of Somerset Churches & Chapels: http://www.fscandc.org.uk
- Somerset is in the Diocese of Bath & Wells: http://www.bathandwells.org.uk/
About the Friends of St James Church Contact: Ronald Bradley Telephone: 01761 452 353