St James' Church, Stretham

St James'
St James' Church, Stretham

North-west view from High Street. Single clock face can be seen on east face of tower
Map of Cambridgeshire England showing location of St James' Church at Stretham
St James'
Location in Cambridgesire
Coordinates: 52°21′N 0°13′E / 52.35°N 0.22°E / 52.35; 0.22
OS grid reference TL 513 747
Location Stretham, Cambridgeshire
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Evangelical
Website St James' Church, Stretham
Founded c. 12th century
Dedication Saint James
Events Extensive rebuilding 1868[1]
Severe restoration 1876[2]
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II*
Designated 5 February 1952
Architect(s) J P St Aubyn[1]
Architectural type Church
Style Gothic
Capacity 312[nb 1]
Length 28 metres (92 ft)
Width 13 metres (43 ft)
Nave width 5.5 metres (18 ft)
Number of spires 1
Materials Mainly rag and Barnack stone;[3] crested ridge tiled roof[1]
Parish Stretham
Diocese Diocese of Ely
Province Province of Canterbury
Bishop(s) Bishop of Ely
Vicar(s) Rev. Natalie Andrews
Churchwarden(s) Robert Leeke
Tim Hill

St James' Church, Stretham, is an active Anglican church in the village of Stretham, Cambridgeshire, England. Founded in the 12th century, it was heavily restored by the architect J. P. St Aubyn in 1876. English Heritage, a body responsible for preserving historical sites in the United Kingdom, assessed the church a Grade II* listed building. The turret clock on the east face of the tower was also made in 1876, by JB Joyce & Co of Whitchurch, Shropshire, and still keeps good time. The church has a ring of six bells hung for change ringing. Regular ringing resumed at the church in June 2011 after several years' silence. St James' is one of eight churches in the Ely Team Ministry.


Plan view showing arrangement of windows and columns[nb 2]

St James' Church stands in the centre of the small village of Stretham, which has a population of 1,685.[nb 3] The village lies 6 kilometres (4 mi) south-south-west of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England, about 119 kilometres (74 mi) by road from London. The earliest written record of this still active church is in the Liber Eliensis, a 12th-century history of the Isle of Ely. In 1137,[7] during Bishop Nigel's (c. 1100–1169) time, Anglo-Saxon conspirators were said to have met in Stretham church.[8] Fragments of the east chancel are known to be from about the 12th century, corroborating the record of the church's existence in that period.[2]

Lancelot Ridley (d. 1576),[9] appointed one of the first Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral in 1541[10] and a rector of Stretham from 1560, was buried in the parish.[11] Mark Ridley (15601624), one of Lancelot's sons, became the physician to the Tsar of Russia.[12]

In 1751, Francis Blomefield, in his Collectanea Cantabrigiensia, recorded St James' as having a square tower, with four bells and a clock. The north aisle was leaded and there was a chantry chapel at the east end with a screen. He concludes this to be the Chancel of the Resurrection. At this time, the south aisle, nave and chancel were also recorded as leaded.[13]

The church was restored very heavily in 1876[2] by the architect J. P. St Aubyn[1][5] at a cost of £4,400[14] (equivalent to £373,274[nb 4] in 2016). The north and south transepts were added at this time as well as the whole south aisle of the nave, the chancel, a clerestory and a new porch.[2]

St James' Church, Stretham, is an historic building protected by Acts of Parliament.[nb 5] Originally, the church was listed Grade A in a publicly available register on 5 February 1952 until a resurvey and regrading by the English Heritage[nb 6] on 19 August 1988. Since then, it is listed as a Grade II* building,[17] which makes the church particularly important to the country's heritage and warrants every effort to preserve it.[18] [nb 7] The church records[nb 8] are kept in the County Records Office, Cambridge.[nb 9] Since 1990, St James' Church has had an ecumenical agreement with the Stretham Methodists.[nb 10]

St James' is part of the Ely Team Ministry, a group of eight churches: St Mary's, Ely; St Peter's, Ely; St Leonard's, Little Downham; St Michael and All Angels, Chettisham; St George's, Little Thetford; St James, Stretham; Holy Cross, Stuntney; St Peter's, Prickwillow.[20] The Prickwillow church was closed for worship in 2008; it is part of the parish of St Mary's, Ely.[21]


Part of the turret clock mechanism showing clockmaker as JB Joyce & Co of Whitchurch, Shropshire and date of manufacture of 1876


The building is mainly 14th century although the east wall of the chancel contains remnants of 12th-century material,[2] including two clamped buttresses.[nb 11][2] The ashlar-faced tower is 14th century with angled buttresses north and south.[3] The west window has three lights with flowing tracery.[23] The clock on the east face of the tower, dated 1876, is by JB Joyce & Co of Whitchurch, Shropshire, the oldest firm of tower clockmakers in the world;[24] it is wound weekly by the churchwardens.[25]

The east wall of the chancery has one window with five lights (stained glass panels) with tracery above in a Gothic style.[2] The church floodlighting is supported by funds from the National Lottery church floodlighting trust[nb 12]


Inside St James'
Chancel east five-light window
Nave, east towards chancel; aisles either side enclosed by arcades of four bays supporting the clerestory's and the wooden rafters of the roof. The north (left) octagonal columns are 14th century; the south round columns were added during the 1876 restoration

There is a lowered sill on the southeast window of the chancel for a three-seat (sedilia); a cabinet (aumbry) is along the east of the north wall with an arched tomb recess to the west of it with an inscribed tomb lid which commemorates Nicholas de Kyngestone, late 13th-century rector.[2] A 1440 oak screen to the chancel is very finely carved.[14] Lying in the chancel is a black marble slab that dates back to 1667; it is a memorial, commemorating Anne Brunsell, sister of Sir Christopher Wren and wife of the rector of the time.[3] The pipe rack organ, built in 1886 by J W Walker and sons of London, is in a chamber built onto the south wall of the chancery. Paddy Benson of Norman & Beard, carried out a reconstruction and enlargement of the organ in 1907 at a cost of £350 (equivalent to £33,392[nb 4] in 2016); it was converted to electric blowing sometime after 1937.[26]


Until 1952, the church had a ring of five bells hung for change ringing;[27] and at this time, a sixth bell was added and one bell was recast, replacing a 1727 bell by Henry Penn of Peterborough.[nb 13] The oldest bell as of 2010, is the 840-millimetre (33 in) 360-kilogram (790 lb) number four bell of 1796 by Joseph Eayre; the newest are of 1951 by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough. This set of six bells are rung from a first-floor ringing chamber above the recently constructed servery and toilets.[28]

According to Canon K W H Felstead's records, now maintained by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, there have been 78 peals rung at St James' Church, Stretham, since 1952.[29][30]


Rectors of Stretham and Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire, 1222—
From To Name Comment
1222 Arnulf
1276 Wymbisse, Thomas de
1302 Dogelly, Richardus de
1338 Hatherston William de; Bagthorpe, Nicholas deSub Deacon
1351 Seyr, Robert; Thomas Darrant
1366 Stratton, Robert de Prebendary of Masam at York Minster and Prebendary of Biggleswade, Lincoln Cathedral
1383 Osgodby, William de By exchange with Thomas de Dalby [31]
1383 Lindesay, John
1407 Burgess, William
1415 Braunston, John; Spalding, William
1458 Redman, Richard Distinct from Richard Redman, who became Bishop of Ely[32][33]
1488 Ryplingham, John [34]
1488 Ryplingham, Richard [35]
1523 1554 Ryseley, Richardus[nb 14]
1554 1559 Young, Johannes[nb 15]
1559 1570 Ridley, Lancelotti[nb 16]Father of Mark Ridley (physician)
1570 1592 Parker, John[36][nb 17] Archdeacon of Ely
1592 1598 Jones, Edwardus[nb 18]
1598 1621 Lawrence, Willimus[nb 19]This gives dates 1598-1621, but tentatively[37]
1621 Brownrigg, Ralp Afterwards Bishop of Exeter
1623 1638 Felton, Nicholaus[38] Deprived by the Earl of Manchester and Parliamentary Visitor
1643 Clarke Matthew; Car, Robert Rector in the time of Richard Cromwell (son of Oliver)
1662 1678 Brunsell, Henricus[nb 20]He[39] married Anne, a sister of Christopher Wren.[40]
1678 1690 Oldham, Richard[nb 21]
1690 1691 Kemp, Robert[nb 22]
1696 1727 Perkins, Ralph[nb 23]
1727 1771 Thomas, Charles[nb 24]
1771 1784 Brown, James[nb 25]
1784 1802 Swaine, John[41]
1802 1812 Morgan, Caesar
1812 1818 Law, HenryAs a JP he[42] was a figure of the Ely and Littleport riots 1816.[43][44]
1818 1827 Sparke, John Henry Canon of Ely; he was eldest son of Bowyer Sparke.[45]
1827 1869 Baber, Henry Hervey[nb 26] Keeper of printed books at British Museum
1869 1884 Pigot, Hugh Manchester Guardian obituary[46]
1885 1906 Cockshott, John William Hon. Canon of Ely. Times notice of appointment[47]
1906 1945 Stitt, S Stuart Times notice of appointment following resignation of J W Cockshott;[48] Times notice of death 31 July 1945[49]
1945 1952 Cowgill, John E Lambeth Palace records[50]
1952 1955 Loughborough, George W Times notice of promotion[51]
1955 1965 Foulds, Dennis Times notice of appointment[52]
1966 1974 Hornby John H Times notice of appointment[53]
1974 1993 Askey, John Stuart[54]
1994 1998 Kilner, Fredrick James From 1994 incumbents are known as Team Vicars
1999 2005 Sansom, John[55]
2005 2009 Scott, Pauline Claire Michalak[56]
2009 Harper, Margaret[57]

Records before 1523[58] have not been confirmed; they have been checked (other than minor spelling differences) with the painted board in the south-west corner of the nave


  1. Pews=206, free-standing chairs=106; seats for 15 within chancel not counted
  2. Summarised from Pugh[4] and Lambeth Palace Library[5]
  3. 2001 census[6]
  4. 1 2 Using RPI as describe in Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth
  5. First such Act:Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882 (45 Vic. c. 73)[15]
  6. Act setting up English Heritage: National Heritage Act 1983 (ELIZABETH II c. 47. 1.)[16]
  7. There are 374,081 listed buildings in England as of 26 September 2010[19]
  8. Baptism 1558–2016, banns 1759–1963, marriages 1558–1952, and burial 1558–1956 (Church of England only)
  9. Notice inside porch
  10. Copy of agreement displayed on the notice board inside the porch
  11. The clamped (or clasped) buttresses can be seen on the east wall outside of the building pictured. "A buttress is a vertical member projecting from a wall to stabilize it or to resist the lateral thrust of an arch, roof or vault. Clasping buttress: one which encases the angle."[22]
  12. Plaque inside porch
  13. Bells, one to six respectively are E, D, C, B, A and G. Tenor is 1,085-pound (492 kg) in G (761Hz)[28]
  14. also Rysseley, Richardus
  15. also Younge, John
  16. also Rydley Lancelet
  17. also Parker, Johannes
  18. also Jones, Edwin
  19. also Lawrence, William
  20. also Brunsell, Henry and Brumsell, Henry
  21. also Oldham, Richardus
  22. also Kemp, Robertus and Kempe, Robert
  23. also Perkins, Radulphus
  24. also Thomas, Carolus
  25. also Browne, James
  26. also Baber, Henry Harvey
  1. 1 2 3 4 "Church of St James, High Street (west side) Stretham, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pugh 1953, p. 155 col. 2.
  3. 1 2 3 Pevsner 1970, p. 462.
  4. Pugh 1953, p. 156.
  5. 1 2 "Stretham, St James' (1874-76)". Church plans online. Lambeth Palace Library. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  6. "Area: Stretham CP (parish)". 2001 Census. Office for National Statistics. 2001. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  7. Fairweather 2005, p. 362 note 203.
  8. Fairweather 2005, p. 364.
  9.  Shaw, William Arthur (1896). "Ridley, Lancelot". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 48. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  10. Gairdner, James (1908). Lollardy and the Reformation in England: An Historical Survey: Book III The fall of the monasteries. p. 359. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  11. Shaw (2004) ODNB Lancelot Ridley (subscription required)
  12. Stone (2004) ODNB Mark Ridley (subscription required)
  13. Blomefield 1751, pp. 21–25.
  14. 1 2 Kelly 1929.
  15. "Managing and owning the landscape:Preserving historic sites and buildings". Crown. Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  16. "National Heritage Act 1983" (pdf). HMSO. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  17. "Church of St James High Street Stretham, Ely, Cambs". East Cambridgeshire District Council. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  18. "English Heritage: Principles of selection" (pdf). London: HMSO. March 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  19. "Listed Buildings". English Heritage. 2012. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  20. "St Mary's Church, Ely:Team churches". St Mary's. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  21. "The Messenger" (PDF). Prickwillow Village Magazine. 2007. pp. 21–22. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  22. Pevsner, Nikolaus (2010). "Looking at Buildings: Glossary: Clasping Buttress". Pevsner Architectural Guides. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  23. Pugh 1953, p. 156 col. 1.
  24. "Time to spare in Whitchurch". BBC. 13 January 2006. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  25. "St James' Church, Stretham:History". Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  26. "Cambridgeshire, Stretham St. James [N10223]". The British Institute of Organ Studies. 2005. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  27. Pugh 1953, p. 155 col. 1.
  28. 1 2 Higson, Andrew (2008). "Stretham, Cambs S James Gt". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers (online ed.). Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  29. Cradock, Andrew (2010). "Felstead Database - Peal List for Tower: Stretham, St James the Great, Cambridgeshire, England". Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  30. "St James the Great, Stretham, Cambridgeshire". Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  31. Farrer, William, ed. (1907), The Victoria County History: A history of the county of Lancaster: The parish of Leigh: Introduction, church and charities, III, J. Brownbill, pp. 413421
  32. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  33. Gribbin, Joseph A (2001), The Premonstratensian order in late medieval England, 16, p. 175, ISBN 9780851157993
  34. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  35. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  36. Wright, Stephen (2004), "Parker, John (1532/3–1592)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 22 August 2010 (subscription required)
  37. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  38. Fincham, Kenneth (2004), "Felton, Nicholas (1556–1626)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 31 August 2010 (subscription required)
  39. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  40. Burke, John (1936), A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank: but uninvested with heritable honours, II, p. 166
  41. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  42. Venn, J and J A (1922–1958), Alumni Cantabrigienses (online ed.), 10 volumes
  43. Law, Henry (1816), Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Henry Law: vindication of his conduct in Ely and Littleport Riots, MS Add.4492
  44. "Riots at Littleport and Ely". The Times. London. 30 May 1816. p. 3. (subscription required (help)).(subscription required)
  45. Persons: Sparke, John Henry (1815–1831) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 5 February 2014)
  46. "Ecclesiastical intelligence". The Manchester Guardian. 27 September 1994. p. 8. Retrieved 23 August 2010.(subscription required)
  47. "Ecclesiastical Appointments". The Times. London. Thursday 15 January 1885. p. 10. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  48. "Ecclesiastical Intelligence". The Times. London. Friday 17 August 1906. p. 4. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  49. "Deaths". The Times. London. Wednesday 8 August 1945. p. 1. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  50. Deputy Archivist , Lambeth Palace Library, London SE1 7JU; 8–September 2010
  51. "Ecclesiastical news". The Times. London. Thursday 5 May 1955. p. 12. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  52. "Ecclesiastical news". The Times. London. Thursday 25 November 1965. p. 14. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  53. "Church news". The Times. London. Monday 30 May 1966. p. 10. (subscription required (help)). Check date values in: |date= (help)(subscription required)
  54. Askey, John Stuart (2010), Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.), Church House Publishing, (Crockford's person ID 16180), retrieved 21 August 2010(subscription required)
  55. Sansom, John (2010), Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.), Church House Publishing, (Crockford's person ID 22318), retrieved 21 August 2010(subscription required)
  56. Scott, Pauline Claire Michalak (2010), Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.), Church House Publishing, (Crockford's person ID 38079), retrieved 21 August 2010(subscription required)
  57. Harper, Margaret (2010), Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.), Church House Publishing, (Crockford's person ID 37491), retrieved 21 August 2010(subscription required)
  58. Village website

Further reading

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