There can be no more stunningly beautiful – or surprising – village church than St James’, at Baldersby St James. Turn off the A1, drive down a quiet country road, seemingly on the way to nowhere … and there you have a Grade 1 Butterfield church, set imposingly in a well-kept spacious churchyard, with a steeple soaring heavenwards. Not only that, but it is surrounded by other, equally impressive Butterfield buildings – a village school, still very active, with good links to the Church; a charming rectory; and a number of cottages. All of them were designed in the mid-1850s by the renowned architect William Butterfield, at the behest of the Seventh Viscount Downe – part of the Viscount’s attempt to persuade the then Bishop of Bath to let him marry his daughter!
St James’, built to serve the villages of Baldersby and Rainton (and half way between them), is very much in the Anglo Catholic tradition, with formal lines, monochromic brickwork in beautiful patterns, a high altar, and rich stained glass. It has a rich treasury of vestments and altar frontals. In the middle of the countryside, it is a place of sanctuary, a place of pilgrimage, a place in which to be able to reflect on the goodness of God, and come to a deeper realization of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It is a place in which to lay down burdens and be aware of the life and light of Christ.
St James’ is very much a living Church with an active and committed congregation of regular worshippers. It is open every day during the hours of daylight, and there are toilet and kitchen facilities.
Visitors are welcome, be it for quiet reflection, or academic interest, or just a stopping-off point on a journey. Groups looking for a venue for a Quiet Day will find all they need here. Services are advertised in the porch, and there is an open and warm invitation to join the local community in worship.
St James’ Church, Baldersby St James, is a treasure, and those of us who live, work and worship in its shadow hope that you will discover its richness for yourself and know God’s blessing here.