St Jamesís Church lies in the small village of West Littleton on the border of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. The church is Grade 2 listed and has a particularly fine 13th century turret and bellcote. The bell itself dates from the same period. It is thought that the chancel arch and bellcote are the only parts of the original structure which survived a fire in the 19th century, although a beautiful canopied niche above the doorway in the south porch is certainly from the 13th or 14th century.
The church was largely rebuilt, including a new porch and vestry, in 1855 under the supervision of Thomas Wyatt, architect of the Salisbury Diocese.
The church contains four 18th and 19th century marble wall monuments with the earliest commemorating the death of the Reverend William Alsop in 1750. In the churchyard there are nine listed chest tombs which flank the path to the church door.
The village of West Littleton and its church are not only a source of great pride to the villagers but also give much pleasure to visitors to the area who enjoy country walks along the well posted and maintained footpaths. There is a footpath through the churchyard which allows passers-by to spend a few moments of quiet contemplation inside this beautiful little church, and the many comments in the visitorsí book show what pleasure this brings.
It has been clear for a number of years that the memorials and tombs were deteriorating with some becoming "at risk". The latest Quinquennial Report in November 2007 confirmed the need for action.
The PCC, with the advice of the church architect, decided to consider a programme of work using recognised and approved conservation techniques. The option to remove the memorials and to dismantle the tombs at greatest risk was also considered. This would have effectively destroyed an important piece of our heritage and the opportunities it offered for learning and interpretation about our history. This option was rejected by the PCC and the decision taken to initiate a project to conserve the memorials and tombs.
The PCC, in assessing the need, concluded that there is an increasing demand for safe access to heritage items in and around churches, especially in rural areas where many come to appreciate the countryside and learn about village communities. It was decided that the project should be linked to an initiative to provide access to the heritage through an archival and historical display in the church, through a dedicated website and through links to local schools and groups.
This video shows St James's church as it was in April 1988 and was taken on Good Friday in the course of recording the building of St James's Grange on the neighbouring piece of land.
This video shows the areas of the church where work will be taking place and records the scene of the project as it was on April 16th 2010. Later videos on this site will show the work in progress in addition to written reports and photographs.