St James Church

Above the village of Buttermere at the junction of the Honister Pass and Newlands Pass sits the small church of St James. This church, which was dedicated to St James the Great, Apostle and Martyr, and patron saint of pilgrims, was built in 1840 at the expense of the Reverend Vaughan Thomas of Oxford with stone from Sour Milk Ghyll. The east end was extended in 1884 to make a sanctuary and to the north side a vestry was added. In 1933 the west porch was added. This was designed and built with local assistance by Harold L Thompson who was the brother in law of the then vicar, Reverend Geoffrey Orme. The stone provided came from the lower slopes of Red Pike – which is just across the valley.

The church’s interior was completely refurbished with gifts from parishioners and visitors, which included the credence table and priest’s stall from Archbishop and Mrs William Temple, between 1929 and 1935. However, electric lighting was only installed in 1957 and the pipe organ in 1990. The wrought iron gate, which was made by Gilbert Hodgson at Warcop in 1968, represents a shepherd, ewe and lamb. This was made as a memorial to the Reverend Geoffrey Orme and Harold L Thompson.

There are many features of interest within this small picturesque church. However, a feature of particular interest to the fell walker is the memorial tablet to Alfred Wainwright, which is situated in the southwest window. This window looks out up the valley towards Haystacks, which was Wainwright’s favourite place.

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