Ocle Pychard: St James The Great, HR1 3RD
Ocle Pychard is a community of 200 people. The church has an electoral roll of 30. Our biggest mission challenge is our ageing congregation. We want to welcome young families into our church again.
We are determined to maintain a pattern of services at St James. We have one Holy Communion services each month on the first Sunday and on the third Sunday we have Evensong We find it a struggle to pay our parish share but do our best through fund raising activities. These activities bring in money, and also strengthen our links with the community. Each month there is a whist drive held in Burley Gate Village Hall. We hold a quiz evening each year. In July, our Patronal Festival is held in and around the church. It involves cream teas and stalls in the afternoon, and a Songs of Praise service in the evening. We try to use the church for activities other than services to encourage people to visit it.
Our beautiful church building, in its tranquil setting, is the most westerly of the churches in the Frome Valley Group. The original church may have been built in the latter part of the 12th century; its traces remain as the eastern part of the nave. The chancel and tower base are 14th century. The church was considerably restored in the 19th century. We are preparing for a renovation project including redecoration of the church, electrical work and new lighting.
This small but attractive church is medieval but of uncertain date, although thought to be around 13th or 14th century. Victorian alterations are evident but traces of the original features can be found, such as the doorway high up in the wall above the pulpit which would have led to the former rood loft across the chancel arch.
The tower is built half inside the nave and half out and is crowned by a copper covered spire, now a striking green in colour.
The original part of the church dates to the latter part of the thirteenth century with the chancel being added in the fourteenth century and underwent considerable restoration in the nineteenth century. In 1869 the roof was retiled and it is thought that it had at one time been thatched. The west tower is unusual in that it was built half inside the church and half outside. It contains three bells and a sanctus bell dating from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. There are two fonts one of which dates from the early fifteenth century and is octagonal.