Stoke Orchard Parish Church

St. James the Great Church Photos by
John Wilkes of Cam near Dursley, Gloucestershire
The Gloucestershire Photo Library

Page composition by
Allan Taylor of Vancouver, Canada

St. James the Great at Stoke Orchard was originally an ancient chapel-of-ease attached to the parish of Bishop's Cleeve. It is a very interesting, small, mostly Norman building of circa 1170, consisting of nave and chancel and a single bell-turret over the chancel arch. The wall paintings which cover the four walls of the nave were discovered before 1889 and further restored 1953-55 by Clive Rouse. Five successive schemes were discovered dating from between 1200 and 1723. The decorative borders are striking and the subject of the earliest wall paintings is the life cycle of St. James of Compostela, the only set in England of that subject. There are also animal heads in some of the designs with strong Scandanavian characteristics. The font is Norman with intersecting arch ornament.