St. James’ Church

St James 2W 300x225 St. James’ ChurchContacts

Priest in charge: Rev. Richard Deimel: Vicar of Escomb, Witton Park, Etherley, Hamsterley and Witton-le-Wear.
(Usual rest day: Friday)
Vicarage, 2 High Escomb, Bishop Auckland, DL14 7ST. Tel: 01388 602861, 07814 232248

Associate Ministers:
Rev Margaret Deimel; Canon Trevor Pitt, tel: 01388 488898.

Reader: Derek Jago, tel: 458358.

Churchwardens: Mr P E Bloor, The Croft, tel: 01388 488257; Mrs M Swan, Bedburn Old Hall, tel: 01388 488249.

Organist: Mr I Bonas, Bedburn Hal, tel: 01388 488231. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Hamsterley Church & Chapel United Village Services
– April 2014

Methodist Chapel & Churches Together Centre 9.30 am
10.30 am
First Light Morning Worship
Mrs Carol Bean
Methodist Chapel & Churches Together Centre 10.00 am Holy Communion (CW)
St James’ Church 10.30 am Holy Communion (CW)
Methodist Chapel & Churches Together Centre 10.30 am Holy Communion
Rev Canon T. Pitt
St James’ Church 10.30 am Holy Communion (CW)


Escomb Group of Parishes – Events in April 2014

Tuesday 1 April 10.00 am: Holy Communion St Cuthberts Etherley.

Tuesday 1 April 7.30 pm: Sts Philip and James Witton le Wear.
Lent Journey: Night Prayer + Lent Address: Hope.

Wednesday 2 April 6 pm: Etherley Mission Team @ Barrie’s.

Wednesday 2 April 7.30 pm: Celtic Springs Meditation in Escomb Church.

Friday 4 April 9.30 am: Hamsterley CTC: Hamsterley School Passion Play.

Saturday 5 April 10 am – 12 noon: Val + Derek Jagos’ 21 Clarence Gdns, BA
Coffee Morning – all welcome.

Monday 7 April 7 pm:   Hamsterley Churches Together Centre
“Who’s to blame?” A Discovery Evening discussion, led by David Harris, about our seemingly irresistible need to point the finger at someone else.  Exploring the issues in relation to the Law and a Christian perspective. All welcome.

Saturday 12 April: Escomb Village Hall Social in aid of Escomb Church:
Buffet Supper and Bingo + Beetle Drive.

Monday 14 April 7.30 pm: Steering Group@ Jagos’.

Maundy Thursday 17 April 10.00am: Holy Communion.      

Maundy Thursday 17 April 7 pm: Saxon Inn Escomb: Mandy Supper with Eucharist:
30 tickets available @ £12 for two-course meal.
Book with Churchwardens by 6 April, but pay on the night.

Alpha Course 24 April 7 pm: at Witton-le-Wear church
A 10  week course on Thursday evenings on what Christians believe;
each evening has a simple meal, a short video talk and open discussion.
To book your place please contact Tim Atkins on 488626.

Escomb Group of Parishes – Events in May 2014

Wednesday 7 May Escomb Church 7.30 pm: Concert with the Celtic duo CAIM:
all welcome – donations

Escomb Group of Parishes – Events in June 2014

Saturday 28 June: Day pilgrimage to Bewcastle to see the Saxon Cross and to visit the Celtic Christian eco project – probably stopping at Heavenfield on the way for refreshments and reflection.  Details will follow about times, car sharing, etc.

Richard + Margaret Deimel  01388 602861. Janice Turnbull, Children and Families Worker: 07798 665024. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

History of the Church

(Most of this information is taken from the St.James’ Church fact sheet, available at the back of the church. This was produced by a sub committee of the Parochial Church Council chaired by Mavis Brown-Humes. Illustrations by Rosanna Tooley. Some of the text is taken from an article loaned by Mavis Brown-Humes. Our thanks to Ted Bloor for permission to use this material.)

There are more photographs on the St. James’ Gallery page and there is a comprehensive description, available in the church, of the various stone grave covers that are now affixed to the walls.

The Church was founded around 1180 as a Chapel of Ease for St. Andrew’s Auckland. It is half a mile east of the village. The reason for this has always been a mystery. The church is stone built and was originally rectangular in shape. The south transept was added later probably as a chantry chapel, and the north transept later still, giving the building its present cruciform plan.

Plan 3W 300x219 St. James’ Church

Font W 208x300 St. James’ Church(1) The font is thought to be contemporary with the old church, circa 1180. The carved wooden cover was added in 1975.






(2) The west window
was opened up in the 17th century.

(3) The nave has four monuments on the north wall dating from circa 1769 to 1940. The roof was restored in 1960-1.

Stone 1 W 190x300 St. James’ Church (4) The North Transept. In the north wall is a 13th century window. There is a wooden hatchment of the Surtees family in the east wall.The image is of a stone carving in the west wall of the north transept. The organ was installed in 1985. It was built by Nelson of Durham circa 1810 and rebuilt and extended by H.A. Prested of Durham. The restored 18th century box pew can be seen in front of the vestry screen and was erected in 1992.




(5) The pulpit
was a gift of Mr. Henry Chaytor of Witton Castle and installed in 1885. The tiles in the panels illustrate stories from Pilgrim’ Progress.

Interior W2 221x300 St. James’ Church(6) The chancel is 13th century (this is the part of the east end of the church where the altar is placed).On the north wall is a grey limestone slab containing the matrix of a brass cross with trefoiled ends dating from the 14th century. At the base of the shaft there has been an animal of some sort, possibly a lion couchant. On the south wall there is a large sandstone slab dated at about 1250 because of the round-leaf trefoils flanking the shaft of the cross. These designs have been interpreted as emblems of the Passion. Although it has been implied that the spear and dice box at the foot of the cross “cast aspersions on the character of the priest interred beneath”. The chancel roof is supported by four corbels: the two on the south have carvings of the arms of the See of Durham and of the Surtees family, whereas the two on the north side have carvings of the arms of the Blenkinsopp and Rawlings families and of a griffin of unknown origin. The family tomb of the Blenkinsopps of Hoppyland Hall lies between the choir stalls. The church ‘suffered greatly from the restoration’ in 1883-4 when the chancel roof was made out of cement, supported by iron railway sleepers and drainpipes. This roof became cracked in the summer heat and had to be removed in 1908 when a new roof was provided. The roof was restored in 1960-1. Inside, the oak barrelled roof was built in 1908. The beautiful stained glass in three lights of the east window was designed and made by L.C. Evetts of Woolsington Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, and installed in 1949 in memory of a former parishioner. It depicts Christ’s Passion with various events leading up to Easter Day. “W.W.” is a monogram of the Greek letters alpha and omega. The sockets for the rood screen can still be seen below the chancel arch.

(7) The South Transept. The south transept was possibly added to the nave to serve as a chantry chapel. In the east wall is a blocked up, square-headed priest’s doorway.The lintels inside and out are grave covers. A part of a walled up window is to be seen between the south wall of the nave and the west wall of the transept. In the east wall is a square cupboard or recess (aumbrey) to hold the sacred vessels. In there is a round headed piscina for washing the Communion vessels set close to where an altar must have stood when this was a chantry chapel.

Sundial W 238x300 St. James’ Church

(8) The Porch. The south doorway is Norman in style but has been reconstructed. The door is ancient, possibly 17th century.Within the porch, the seats are formed of old grave covers. Over the porch there is a sundial inscribed – ‘Man fleeth as it were a shadow. 1803’, a timely reminder that “man hath a short time to live”.




Gravestone 1W 203x300 St. James’ Church

(9) Outside the church. Leaving the porch and turning left, there is, beneath the west wall of the south transept, two monumental stones protruding; one is mutilated. It is an effigy of a lady (possibly a member of the Eure family) with her head on a cushion and her hands folded in prayer; the other stone has a floriated cross of beautiful design. The monuments, regarded as the most remarkable features of the Church, are possibly 13th or 14th century and are thought to have been inserted after the church was built, hereby fulfilling the wish of the founder of the chantry chapel that they should “lie within the wall’.


(10) Continuing eastwards
, there is a panoramic view down the valley of the River Wear to Witton-le-Wear, Bishop Auckland and Westerton Hill.

(11) The north transept is lit by a window of fine workmanship, with hood mouldings outside, terminating in mask heads. The window is circa 1300, with three stepped and cusped lancets under one pointed arch. There is “a very pretty battlemented twin bellcott” of the 17th century at the western end of the church.

Gravestones 2W 300x230 St. James’ Church(12) Gravestones. The oldest surviving gravestones in the graveyard are southwest of the porch; four are older than AD1725. One is to Anthony Hogshon of High Wham, who died in 1716, and another is to Margaret Hodgshon, also of High Wham, who died in 1721.In the northeast corner of the churchyard rested the bodies of twenty-seven German POWs who died from influenza in 1918.Grave covers brought to light in 1883-4 were, at this time, placed in the walls, some of them ornamented to show the various occupations of the dead: swords, hammers, blacksmiths’ tongs, coulter (?) and share of a plough, etc. Some grave covers are used to provide seats in the porch. The door, which is studded with iron, is very ancient. Of the two bells hanging in the church, one appears to have been stolen in the  century, probably on account of the large amount of silver that is known was used in its casting.  The bell was replaced. A silver chalice of ancient date has also disappeared.

Vicars W 180x300 St. James’ ChurchThe Church registers date from the 1580s. The first recorded priest was The Rev. Robert Melmorbie, since when there have been thirty curates and incumbents. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

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