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St James, Waterfall, Staffordshire

(53°3′41″N, 1°52′44″W)
SK 082 516
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Waterfall is a moorland village, on a hill above the River Hamps. There is no waterfall here; the village taking its name from the behaviour of the River Hamps, which abruptly disappears underground among the limestone rocks nearby, re-emerging near Ilam. The church has a blocky nave and W tower, both dating from 1792 and typical of their date with round-headed windows and heavy ashlar facings. The chancel was rebuilt in the 1890s, using old masonry, and the chancel arch is 12thc., if restored. To the N of the chancel is a chapel, also of the 1890s, now used as a vestry. The only other 12thc. feature is the arch now set above the 18thc. S nave doorway under a porch dated 1894. It looks, says Pevsner, 'curious'.


Waterfall is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. It was held by Earl Ranulph of Chester, and passed to his nephew, Richard Bacon, who founded the house of Augustinian canons at Rocester in Dovedale some time between 1141 and 1146. Land and a chapel of St Michael's, Rocester at Waterfall were part of the foundation gift from Richard to the first abbot, Thurstan, and the duties previously owed by the men of Waterfall to Ranulph and his nephew passed to the abbey. These possessions and privileges were confirmed in 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII, and at that time the Waterfall holdings comprised the chapel and four bovates of land. Rocester's possessions passed to the crown at the Dissolution.

Benefice of Calton, Cauldon, Grindon, Waterfall and Blore Ray with Okeover.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

The church appears in 19thc. views in the William Salt Library, mostly by J. C. Buckler and done in 1847. I know of no views of the earlier church or chapel. The chancel arch and doorway are contemporary work, the chip-carving, capital forms and chevron ornament combing to suggest a date in the 1120s or '30s.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 298.
Drawings in William Salt Library, Stafford, nos. SV XI 142a; 143; 145a and 145b, mostly by J. Buckler of 1847. Available online via the Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection webpages at Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection. Available online at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=47,71124and_dad=portaland_schema=PORTAL
Victoria County History: Staffordshire. III (1970), 247-51.