Situated at the heart of Great Horwood, the church of St James dominates every approach to the village.  The turret on the tower, with its distinctive pointed roof, is a landmark which can be seen for miles.  

The present Church was built about 1340 and at first consisted only of the Choir with a Vestry, a narrow nave and a low tower, although there is an arch over the South door which was thought to have been built in 1250 and therefore indicates an earlier Church on the site.

The beautiful traceried windows of the Choir belong to the middle C14th.  Later in the same century the North Chapel, which now accommodates the organ was added.  About 1450 the Nave was enlarged by the addition of 2 side aisles – all the windows in the Nave are of the same period and at the same time the Tower was raised to its present height.  The high timbers of the Nave roof bear the date 1613.

In 1874 a thorough restoration of the Church was carried out and the North Chapel was largely rebuilt. This Chapel had previously been walled off and used as the village school….. this probably accounts for the carving of initials with for example dates of 1654 and 1719 which deface some of the pillars. There was good restoration work carried out on the beautiful sedilia (seat) on the South side of the Chancel and to the ancient screen and at the same time the organ was provided.

As you walk around St James you will see……

  • The niche on the South side of the screen, which has been adapted as a War Memorial. Below are the symbols of the Passion, the cross, nails, scourge and spear. The window nearby contains fragments of old stained glass.

  • The Brass of a Rector, Henry Upmore, in academic robes who died in 1487. It is behind the Stalls on the North side of the Choirs, The high doorway in the North-East corner of the Sanctuary is of uncertain date and purpose.

  • The carved heads and faces in the Choir and Nave, including a monkey over the North Door, are a feature of our Church.

  • The list of Rectors of the Parish near the North Door which includes the name of William Warham who later became Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England. He married Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon - see Wikipedia entry.


In 2008, following many years of fund raising, a toilet with disability access and kitchen area were built within the Church.   Also in 2008 a sound system was installed, including a hearing loop system, paid for through funds raised by the Church fete.


A leaflet has been produced to guide visitors on a tour of the main features of the church and can be downloaded by clicking here.   


William Warham