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St James, Avebury, Wiltshire

(51°25′40″N, 1°51′32″W)
SU 099 699
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Wiltshire
now Wiltshire
medieval Salisbury
now Salisbury
medieval All Saints and St James
now St James
  • Allan Brodie
10 December 1993

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The church lies to the west of the prehistoric earthwork. In the 12thc., this must have dominated the church even more than it presently does. Avebury Manor lies a short distance to the north-west of the church.

The nave of the church was recognised by Ponting in 1883-4 to be Anglo-Saxon in origin. Its tall narrow proportions and thin walls suggest this, and the presence of two pre-Conquest windows at the west end of the north and south walls of the nave confirm this. The windows are cut across by the hood mould of the remains of the inserted 12thc. nave arcades. The circular clerestory is also thought to date from before the Conquest.

In the 12thc. the aisles were added to the nave and parts of the two eastern and western responds of both the north and south arcades survive. The arcades were largely replaced by a taller arcade carried on Tuscan order columns in 1812. Also belonging to the 12thc. is the south door of the nave, a number of fragments set into the south porch and the west wall of the nave, and the mid-12thc. font.

In the late 13thc. the chancel was rebuilt and it was restored again in 1879 by R. J. Withers. There is a Perpendicular west tower.


The value of the manor to the lord in 1086, Reinbald of Cirencester, was £2. The patronage of the church lay with the Abbey of Cirencester and was an appropriated vicarage by 1298.


Exterior Features


Interior Features




Loose Sculpture


A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Victoria County History, pp. 86-105, esp. 101-3.

Buckler Album vol VIII in Devizes Museum, plate 55

H.M. Taylor and J. Taylor Anglo-Saxon Architecture, Cambridge, 1980, pp. 32-4, 723, 1078

C. Thorn and F. Thorn, Domesday Book, Chichester 1979, 65b, 23d

G. Zarnecki et al, Later English Romanesque Sculpture 1140-1210, London 1953, p. 53