History Of St James

St James was founded in the twelfth century, the Prioress of Amesbury having the gift of the living.  In early times Ludgershall was of some importance, with weekly markets on Wednesday, an annual fair on the 25th July, and being the site of a royal castle. 

At one time Ludgershall returned two Members of Parliament until the Reform Act of 1832.  The Church contains two reminders of its past glory, the remains of General John Webb and Sir Richard Brydges the latter, a former governor of the royal castle.  

St James Today

The building is a simple structure of stone, brick and flint in the Norman and Early English style.  It has a nave, transepts and chancel, and a squat tower at the west end.

The Nave was restored in 1873 by Pearson; the seating was renewed in the following year. Going down the north wall towards the altar there is, on the left fitted into the Norman window, a narrow insert of stained glass showing St James Major, the saint for whom our church is named.  Further down the wall there is a lozenge-shaped hatchment or armorial bearing of General John Richmond Webb, a distinguished soldier.  General Webb commanded Britain’s land forces in theIMG_3391 seventeenth-century and was one of Ludgershall’s Members of Parliament in 1690.  General Webb died in 1724 and is buried in the north transept.

The North Chapel now houses the fine Walker organ first built in 1853 and restored in 1969.

The Chancel is now an open space where once the choir stalls stood.  There is the remains of a stone staircase behind the pulpit which once led to the rood loft above and the crypt below. The chancel is wholly Early English in style, with windows on the north and south sides. There is a Reredos set behind the altar and eight pieces of glass in the chancel are in memory of the Revd. W. H. Awdry.  In the window dedicated to St Stephen there is inset a small medallion bearing the arms of Henry Chichelle, 1414-43, who was Archdeacon of Sarum before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

The South Chapel now known as the Brydges Chapel.  There is a pre-Reformation piscine and a fine parish chest dating from 1693.  Nowadays the parish registers are housed in the Country Record Office at Chippenham: they date from 1609.

IMG_3755The Brydges Monument stands between the nave and south chapel.  It is a magnificent canopied tomb of Sir Richard Brydges and his wife Jane.  Sir Richard, the Member of Parliament for Ludgershall in 1553 was knighted at the coronation of Mary Tudor.  He became the Sheriff of Berkshire two years later.  His wife was Lady Jane Spencer, an ancestor of the late Lady Diana Princess of Wales.  This monument has been described as ‘one of the most improtant of its date in England’.  It was restored in the 1970s by the Pilgrim Trust.

The Tower contains a clock and six bells.  It was last heightend in 1871 in memory of the Revd. R. T. Everett by his widow.

The Belfry contains 6 bells.  The oldest dated 1631 and newest 1908. The bells were re-hung in 1908 at cost of £200, the expense was borne by Mrs and Miss Awdry in memory of the Revd. W. H. Awdry who was the Rector from 1872 -99.  The sixth, now number 1 was added at this time.

Win Dixon’s book The History of Lugershall

This ever popular History of the village from the earliest times has recently been republished and is available for £9.95.  For your copy, signed by the author, please contact Julie Walker on 01264 790448.

In 2021, we had a beautiful new stained glass window installed in the Brydges Chapel, designed and made by the artist Sophie Hacker. The work is entitled The Revealing Glory and Renewing Hope Window, and picks up on local geography and themes as well as God’s Kingdom coming to this place. Our church is open daily, so please do visit to have a look.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s