St James Church has been a ruin without a roof since 1865, and a visit requires a short downwards walk across a field and be warned its a steep climb back up. However it is well worth it!
For centuries the building was the focal point of a small community on the Lancaut peninsular, which is nearly encircled by the River Wye. Earthworks to the east and west of the church indicate an abandoned medieval settlement.
The name 'Lancaut' is derived from the Welsh Llan (meaning church) and Cewydd, the name of an obsure Welsh saint who lived in the 6th century AD. 12th century ecclesiastical charters mention a religious establishment (called lann ceuid) which may have been in existence on the Lancaut peninsula during the 7th and 8th centuries. Whether St James church is on the same site is unproved.
Here is a view of the ruin from the field to the west.
This photograph is displayed on a board giving information about the church and depicts the building in about 1865 before the roof was removed.
The church once contained a lead font made between 1120 and 1140; it is now displayed in the Lady Chapel at Gloucester Cathedral. The date on the font suggests that the church existed by the first half of the 12th century, however none of the surviving structure can be dated to this period. It may have been substantially altered during the 12th or early 13th centuries. The chancel arch is the only survivor from this period, visible in the two interior shots below.
There is a nice piscina in the southern wall of the chancel. This and the (fallen) south doorway are late medieval.
Here is a view of the east window from the outside; it is a copy of a late 12th/early 13th century style. The second photo is of the south window of the chancel.
The remains of the base of the missing churchyard cross is visible outside. There are several ancient gravestones still visible under the grass and around and inside the building.
The final view is of the two high openings in the western wall, taken from outside. These were probably designed to house bells, although a bell turret was added at some point (see the photo above), when presumably these openings became windows.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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