The Church of St. James in South Leigh, Oxfordshire, dates primarily from the 15th century. It is notable for its beautiful wall paintings depicting the Last Judgment, saints, and other themes.
Facts & Stats
- Best Known As
- Church of St James
- Full Name
- Church of St James
- Also Known As
- South Leigh Church
- 51.778424° N, 1.430277° W (map)
- Church End
- September 12, 1955
- Church of St James designated a Grade I listed building
Listed Building Description
SOUTH LEIGH CHURCH END SP30NE Church of St. James 7/232 12/09/55 GV I
Church. Late C12 chancel rebuilt 1871-2 by E.W. Christian. Late C15 nave and north aisle, probably by William Orchard; restored 1871 by C.C. Rolfe and 1887-8 by H.W. Moore; late C15 west tower. Coursed limestone rubble; gabled stone slate aisle and north chancel roof; shallow-pitched nave and north aisle roofs not visible. Chancel with north chapel running into north aisle of nave; west tower. Late C15 five-light east window with panel tracery. South chancel wall has early 16 three-light round-arched window with vine-carved label mould; chamfered Norman doorway has hogbacked lintel with carved tympanum depicting Maltese cross bordered by arcs and coves. Chamfered Norman window with hood-mould to north. Late C15 north chapel has 3-light window with panel tracery and head stops to label-mould and 3-light cinquefoil-headed north window. 3-bay north aisle has 3-light cinqueloil-headed windows divided by offset buttresses, and 3-light west window with panel tracery: crenellated parapet. South wall of nave has two 3-light windows of panel tracery and pointed chamfered doorway in south porch which has part of Maltese cross in apex of gable; casement-moulded south doorway, with mid C19 doors. Crenellated parapet. 3-stage west tower with string courses: casement-moulded west door with foliate spandrels including Green Man; 2-centred Y-tracery window above; offset corner buttresses, and square stair-turret adjoining north aisle; 2-light belfry windows; carved heads and gargoyles carved on coved frieze beneath crenellated parapet. All late C15 hood-moulds over windows have fine head stops. Interior: late C12 pillar piscina in front of aumbry. Late C15 archway to north chapel has slender shafts running into casement moulding, and moulded capitals. Double-chamfered chancel arch with moulded capitals. 3-bay north arcade with slender piers of similar moulding as to north chapel arch; statue corbel with carved herald above squint to east. similar C15 archway from north aisle to chapel, with C15 cinquefoiled and ogee-headed chapel screen: mid C19 chancel screen has reset C15 traceried open panels and rood by Gibbs and Moore c.1873. Candelabra by Sir Ninian Comper, 1935; plain polygonal pulpit with octagonal stem, presented 1712, stands next to parish chest dated 1780. Late C15 octagonal font on simple panelled base; organ case by Sebastian Comper; C15 plank door to west tower; other fittings and roofs are late C19: 3 late C15 head corbels in north aisle. Memorials: late C17 and early C18 ledger stones in north chapel. Brass to William Secoll (died 1557) in nave. Important group of late C15 wall paintings: restored in 1872 by Burlison and Grylls. Virgin under canopy on south chancel wall; St. Clement of Rome under similar canopy at east end of north aisle, with stars on blue background around adjoining window jamb. Complete Last Judgement scene over chancel arch and adjacant nave walls. Unrestored paintings at west end of north aisle of the '7 deadly sins falling into the mouth of hell'. Repetitive floral patterns at east end of nave are by Gibbs and Moore c.1888. Stained glass: east window by O'Connor, 1871. East window of north chapel has fragments of C15 glass, including quarries and border pieces, heads of Christ and the Virgin, Adam Digging and hanging shields of arms. Yorkist sun badge or crown set in cusping of north window of north chapel and middle window of north aisle. John Wesley preached his first sermon here in 1725. (Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, pp.769-770; Bodleian Library, M.S. Drawings and M.S. Top., Oxon for C19 drawings; National Monuments Record; G. Moultrie, Six Years at Southleigh, 1875, pp.6ff for history of restoration).
Listing NGR: SP3939909015
- The National Heritage List for England: 1199106, /resultsingle.aspx?uid=1199106. Historic England.