St James the Great - Claydon, Oxfordshire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 08.805 W 001° 20.011
30U E 614026 N 5778670
Quick Description: Medieval church of St James the Great, Claydon.
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/6/2020 1:06:46 AM
Waymark Code: WM12JNW
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member pmaupin
Views: 1

Long Description:
Medieval church of St James the Great, Claydon.

"Claydon church dates from at least the 12th century, and was a dependent chapelry of Cropredy until 1851, when Claydon (with Mollington) was created a perpetual curacy. The living was thereafter in the gift of the Bishop of Oxford and was endowed with glebe valued in 1852 at £200 a year gross, £198 net. In 1863 Claydon was created a separate perpetual curacy, and the endowment of the joint living was divided. The endowment of Claydon benefice comprised chiefly some 55 a. of glebe, namely the allotments in lieu of tithe (39 a.) and of glebe (32 a.) received by the Vicar of Cropredy at the inclosure of Claydon in 1776, less 8½ a. advantageously sold to the East and West Junction Railway in 1872, and a further 4 a. devoted to allotments. In 1877 Claydon was allocated £100 a year by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In 1928 the benefices, but not the parishes, of Claydon and Mollington were reunited. In 1931 the new curacy had a total annual value of about £470, more than twice its value between 1851 and 1863.

The first known curate of Claydon was William Coppoke, who in 1526 was Cropredy's worst-paid curate. Richard Polley (1577–85) was one of those who subscribed to the Elizabethan settlement, and he was followed apparently by a relation, Christopher Polley, who was described in about 1590 as a 'nonpreacher'. From 1594 at least, when William Saunderson was curate, and for most of the 17th century Claydon shared a curate with Mollington. Saunderson was presented for not catechizing the young every Sunday and on Holy Days. In 1669 the churchwardens described their curate as 'painful in his calling', but in 1678 they presented the Vicar of Cropredy for failing to supply a resident curate, which they declared Claydon had had under previous vicars; moreover the vicar held only one service on Sunday, did not catechize, failed to administer the Sacreament duly, and failed to observe Holy Days and fasting days. In fact the curate at that date seems to have served Claydon, Mollington, and Wardington. As a result of the 1678 complaint the Peculiar court ordered the vicar to provide for Claydon a resident curate who would serve Mollington also for a salary of £30 a year. The vicar seems to have complied and curates for Claydon and Mollington are recorded in 1681–7, 1696–1701, in 1739, and in 1797–1808. The curate was presented in 1685 for teaching a school at Williamscot without licence, and for marrying several persons without banns or licences. In 1692–3 the churchwardens described their curate as 'sober and conformable'. In 1739 the curate's salary was still £30 a year, in 1808 £32 10s., and in 1814 £35.

As elsewhere in Cropredy parish the service of two or there cures by ill-paid, and often transitory, curates took its toll: in 1808 the average number of communicants in Claydon was only ten, and in 1838 even fewer—they are the 'grex rarior' of a despondent inscription on a communion flagon given in that year.

After the creation of the joint curacy in 1851 the curate lived at Mollington, and Claydon suffered in consequence by having fewere services than Mollington. In 1860 there were no more than seven communicants at a monthly service, and the curate was complaining of troublesome dissenters. The old 'vicarage-house' at Claydon was quite unsuitable for occupation, and the first two incumbents of Claydon after its separation from Mollington in 1863 quickly resigned on account of the inconvenience caused by the absence of a residence and the consequent necessity of renting unsuitable accommodation in local farm-houses.

In 1867, however, the vicar, G. W. Palmer, bought a house for £200 from his landlord and presented it to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as a benefaction in the favour of the living. He had resided at Claydon since 1864 and had had no other charge. There was a swift improvement in the religious life of the village. In a year and a half attendance at the morning and evening services rose from 30 and 80 to 60 and 150 respectively. Winter Bible classes, held twice a week for men, were regularly attended, and singing classes were held for the young. Even so in 1872 Palmer reported that about half the adults in the village did not go to church, and there were four to five families of 'absolute dissenters.' In 1878 he was holding two services with sermons on Sundays, catechized every Sunday, administered the Sacrament monthly and on festivals, and held a mission service in Advent; out of a population of 300 there were 16 regular communicants, and 27 habitual absentees from church. Out of 63 householders, 51 were church-goers and 12 were dissenters.

After the reunion of Claydon and Mollington benefices in 1928 the vicar resided at Mollington, but after 1934 at Claydon. In 1958 Claydon parsonage-house was sold and the incumbent once more lived in Mollington.

The parish church of ST. JAMES THE GREAT is a small building of local stone consisting of nave, chancel, north aisle and chapel, west tower, and south porch. There is no division between nave and chancel.

The nave and north aisle date from the late 12th century, and are separated by an arcade of three bays. The north chapel, lighted by lancet windows, was added during the early 13th century. The chancel was so much altered in the 19th century that the date of its original construction is now difficult to determine. The small west tower with its saddleback roof, unusual in Oxfordshire, was added in the 14th century.

The subsequent history of the fabric was uneventful until 1860; only once, c. 1620, do 17thcentury churchwardens' presentments refer to the church being in need of attention, and Rawlinson c. 1718 thought it 'dark, but in tolerable repair'. The iron work on the main door into the nave bears the date 1640; some repairs were carried out in 1753 and 1795. By 1856, however, Bishop Wilberforce found the church 'in a wretched state internally—rather picturesque but pewed quite up to Communion rails and all sordid'. In 1860 an extensive restoration was begun. William White of Wimpole Street was the architect and Richard Wilson of Wardington the builder; except for the tower, the church was found to be in a much worse condition than had been thought, and was rebuilt on new foundations. The roof was reconstructed in oak, only a few of the old timbers being found fit for reuse; part of the north aisle was enlarged and rebuilt. The church was reseated and the accommodation was increased from 89 sittings (26 free) to 156 sittings (123 free). New windows were inserted in the chancel: that of three lights in the east wall by Wailes of Newcastle, and two in the south wall by Lavers and Baird (one a memorial to Mrs. Tait, the curate's widow). North Oxfordshire craftsmen executed the reredos of coloured alabaster, the pulpit, the sedilia of Caen stone, and the eagle lectern, altar (of oak), and carved oak font cover. The former three-legged wooden font was replaced by one of stone. The total cost was £542, raised by subscription. Wilberforce preached at the reopening in March 1861 and found the restoration 'very nicely done and the church very pretty'.

After 1861 the only work recorded on the fabric was the repair of the chancel in 1922. During the incumbency of Francis Symes-Thompson (1907–11) an ambitious scheme of mural paintings (containing scenes from the life of St. James) in nave and sanctuary was attempted, but these were not thought satisfactory and were washed over. Other additions in the Tractarian tradition made by SymesThompson in 1908, apparently in advance of a faculty, remained in 1966, including the curtains round the altar, the small red marble table in the sanctuary, and a reproduction of Holman Hunt's picture 'The Light of the World'. Electric light was introduced in 1950; from 1957 the church was heated by electric heaters, which replaced a coke stove.

The church contains mural tablets in memory of the Buswell family; there are several floor slabs to members of the Knibb family.

An American harmonium (Story and Clark, Chicago) was installed in the 1890s, replacing a similar instrument.

The church plate reflects the former poverty of the parish; it includes a pewter plate of c. 1749, a silver tankard flagon of 1832, presented to the church in 1839 in place of a pewter vessel, and a silver chalice and paten of 1855.

According to Rawlinson, Claydon church pos sessed a peal of four bells; but in 1852, as in 1966, the peal was of three bells only. Two were cast in 1609 and 1611 and the tenor, originally cast in 1756, was recast in 1910.

The clock, first mentioned in 1744, is a one-day hour-striking weight-driven mechanism of an early type, originally with a crown wheel and foliot escapement; it has no dial. It has been much repaired by local craftsmen: some time in the 18th century its mechanism was altered to an anchor escapement with a long pendulum. The clock ceased to function in 1859; after repair it was set going again on the ground floor of the tower in 1906. In 1910 Messrs. White provided it with steel ropes and increased its running time to 26 instead of 16 hours; it was repaired again in 1950.

In the mid 18th century Claydon church was adorned with a painted sundial.

The churchyard was enlarged on the south by the addition of 21 perches of glebe land (then a cottager's garden) given by the vicar in 1876; this may have been the site of the old parsonage-house. After 1945 the churchyard was further enlarged; in 1948 George Goode (d. 1949) by will left £100 for its upkeep. Within the churchyard stands a church room, built of ironstone, which was originally the Claydon day school; it bears the date 1840 on its east end.

The registers date from the year 1569. They are not complete, the principal gap being in the marriage and burial registers between 1604 and 1634."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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