St James the Great

Modest and unassuming from the outside, Stoke Orchard's little church has many features showing its origins in about 1170.

About this church

It is the inside that makes the church so special, as its walls are covered in a wonderful jumble of paintings, with fragments and layers from many centuries on top of, behind, and around one another.

The earliest paintings are the ones that are most celebrated. They depict the life of St James of Compostela and date from the early 13th century. They are the only ones of their kind in Britain.

Parts of paintings from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries also survive, some scraped back in the 1880s and 1950s so as to reveal more of the St James pictures.

The church also has a Norman font and many other features, ranging from the 12th to the 19th centuries.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

St Michael & All Angels

Built on a Saxon foundation that may date back to the 700s, the present church takes character from the 1170s, when it was rebuilt by the Normans and transformed into a large and splendid building.


Odda's Chapel

One of the most complete surviving Saxon churches in England, this chapel was built in 1056 by Earl Odda, a relation of Edward the Confessor.

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