St James’ @ Kington

Sunday services at St James' are shared with the congregation from St Nicholas', Dormston.  Services are held at St James' at 11am on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.  On the first and third Sundays, services are held at St Nicholas' at Dormston.  On fifth Sundays, Café Church is held in the Kington and Dormston Village Hall.

13th_Century_Church_of_St.James_at_Kington._454px.org

The Saxon Village of Cyngton had a church as early as 1225, with the current building dating from 1285.  St James is a small 13th and 15th century church, comprising of a nave and chancel of local sandstone, timber framed north porch and west tower, all beneath a plain tile roof. The church was restored in 1881 to designs by Williams Jeffrey Hopkins, when the barrel shaped roof was installed. The timber framed tower is of note and very picturesque, being one of six within the county of Worcestershire. The charm of St James’ is its plain, unadorned interior.

The congregation is small, but dedicated. Normal services are attended by mainly mature residents, with 8-10 being the normal attendance, while special services (Christmas, Harvest, Patronal etc) bring in 25-45 of a wider age range.

Villagers see themselves as custodians of our historic church. The Church has been and still is the catalyst for community events, our latest venture being a ‘Harvest Café.’ The PCC has 8 lively, co-operative, ‘user-friendly’ members who are always looking for new ways to engage people in worship, the life of the church, charity ventures and instigate community events.

A Guide and Brief History

St James' Church is located in the village of Kington, Worcestershire and is signposted off the A422 between Worcester and Stratford upon Avon.

There has been a Church at Kington for more than 700 years. There were three major periods of development, its origins in the early 13th century, followed by building alterations in the 15th and 16th centuries. Dr. Brighton's notes (Rector 1873-79) refer to a restoration in 1693, and the 19th century restoration included reconstruction but within the existing shape of the building.

The 13th century parts of the church are the north wall of the nave and the corner of the tower on the south side where it joins the nave.

In the 15th century, the nave was extended to form the base of the tower. The south wall of the 13th century nave was moved outwards in the 16th century. In 1881 a major restoration was undertaken under the direction of the Worcester architect, W. J. Hopkins. At this time the chancel was rebuilt using much of the original materials, so that the "early" features contained within it may have been faithfully restored, moved around, or even modified.

Substantial repairs were carried out in 1962, when the roof was completely overhauled, new tiles hung, and a decayed beam over the chancel replaced by a steel girder. The plaster panels of the Tower and other timbers were renewed.

In Dr. Brighton's notes, he records that there was a gallery at the west end of the nave, and that people remembered seeing fresco paintings. There was also mention of a former rood loft and the partially obliterated arms of William and Mary.

One enters the church through the north doorway, which is old and may well be original. Turning left towards the chancel one sees the `modern' east window installed in the 1881 restoration. In the chancel on the north wall are two windows, both old, retained within the restoration of the walls. Between these windows is a recess with a two centred drop arch.

In an account of 1962, it says that the square window is reputed to have been a leper's window.

On each side of the altar is a projecting stone showing the remains of carving. The one on the left shows the fingers of a hand holding a chain or fetters, probably part of a figure of St. Leonard. There are two windows and a recess in the south wall of the chancel. The trefoil lancet window is late 13th century and the round headed one may be Norman. The recess between them is thought to be an aumbry (closed recess.)

The nave, which is offset from the chancel because of the 16th century widening alterations, contains `modern' (1881) windows on its south wall and a `modern' window in the north wall to the east side of the door. The windows to the west side of the north door is original. On the wall of the nave, and incorporated in the pulpit are the remains of an elaborate screen with carving in the pattern of a running vine. This may be the rood loft referred to in Dr. Brighton's notes, which may have been removed in the 1693 restorations.

The chancel arch of oak and stone was built in the 1881 restoration.

At the front of the pews on the north side of the nave is an old muniments chest made from the trunk of a tree. It would be exciting to think that this may date from the time of King Henry II or King John, when royal mandates were issued ordering "chests to be placed in all churches for the use of the faithful who were to deposit their alms towards the prosecution of a crusade." The chest was to be a hollow trunk, fastened with three keys kept by the Bishop, the priest, and a religious layman. It is more likely, however, to date from the mandate of 1538 that every parish should provide "a sure coffer, with two locks" for the keeping of the parish registers.

The 15th century tower base, built of ashlar, contains its original side windows. The west door is also contemporary.

The bell tower is of timber framed construction and is one of six in Worcestershire. The others are to be found at Dormston, Warndon, Pirton, Defford and Cotheridge. The three bells were cast by William Huntsbach of Worcester, who also cast the bells at St. Peter's, Droitwich, and Claines. The inscriptions on two bells say, "November 22nd 1693 W.H.R.D." and, on the third "NO THE 22nd 1693. WILL OCKLEI: THO: FARRR: CHURCHWARDENS."

Also in the tower is the Early English font, octagonally shaped, but recut. There is a reredos, not used, which was given in 1890 by the then rural dean, Canon J. R. Eaton. MA.

The 1881 restoration plans show a staircase into the bell tower. This has since been removed, and access is via a trap door.

Outside, the church is heavily buttressed. A watercolour painting made about 1810, in the Prattinton collection held by the Society of Antiquaries, shows the church with its pre-1881 windows and a `dormer' type window in the roof over the nave. There are records of a post with a pulley slot at the east end of the nave in the roof space. This is most likely to be the only remaining evidence of the sanctus bell which is known to have existed in 1532 but has since disappeared.

The large yew tree outside the west door is in evidence in the 1810 painting, but much smaller. The gate into the churchyard was made and fitted by a Dr. Shirley of Droitwich in memory of the Reverend A.C.H.("Clem") Ostrehan (Rector from 1927-59).

The church registers date from 1587, and contain records of baptisms and marriages. The churchyard has only been used for burials since 1838, before which all burials took place at Inkberrow.

Visiting St James’

1st March - 31st August. The church is open every day, closed at dusk.

1st September - 28th February. Open weekends only, closed at dusk.

Disabled Access: This is difficult at present, with three steps into the churchyard. We are investigating the possibilities of a ramp from the car park.