We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St James, Cameley, Somerset

(51°18′58″N, 2°33′39″W)
ST 610 576
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Bath and North East Somerset
  • Robin Downes
05 November 2009

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=13413.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Remarkably sequestered in the upper valley of the Cam Brook, the tiny hamlet consists of little more than church, manor house and farm. Although only 1.3kms W of the main A37 (connecting the English Channel coast with Bristol, 15kms N) at Temple Cloud, Cameley is remote. (It should be noted, however, that the parish extends E across the A37, to include Temple Cloud.) The narrow lane running along the valley is an exclusively local road. Before motor vehicles, the area would have been less isolated; if one follows the stream from its source, 2kms NW of the hamlet at the N end of White Hill, for an easterly journey of about 20kms to its junction with Wellow Brook at Midford soon after one reaches the major river Avon at a point only about 8kms upstream from Bath. The church rests on the ubiquitous Mercia Mudstone (formerly called Keuper Marl) at an altitude of about 110m above the OD.

The church consists of nave with S porch, chancel and W tower. Of these the tower is 15thc, and the remainder is substantially of the late 12thc. Construction is of rubble stone and dressed stone copings to the nave and chancel, with render on the nave N wall, while the tower is of squared but irregular coursed red and grey sandstone with limestone dressings. The church was closed in 1980 and vested in the Churches Conservation Trust in 1981. The dedication to St James of Compostella was noted by Faith (2009), 59-86.


Like much of Somerset, Cameley was held by the Bishop of Coutances in 1086. In 1066 it had been held by two thegns. It was assessed at 9 hides and ½ virgate.

In one account the manor was given to the church of St Peter in Bath by Alexander de Alneto in 1153. On the other hand, it appears to have been in the possession of William de Marisco, a descendant of the Alnetos, in the 1280s. The church was certainly appropriated to the abbey of St Peter and St Paul in Bath.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




A most noteworthy find in this church (see Blair 1991) was the wooden beak-head now in the British Museum but briefly repatriated in the summer of 2009 for exhibition in Radstock Museum.


J. Blair, ‘A Romanesque timber beakhead from Cameley, Somerset’, Antiquaries Journal 1991, 252-264.

J. Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, 2 vols, Bath 1791, II, 125-26.

J. Faith, The Knights Templar in Somerset, Stroud 2009, 59-86

Historic England listed building 32737.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Harmondsworth 1958, 150.