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St James, Finchampstead, Berkshire

(51°22′3″N, 0°51′44″W)
SU 793 638
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Wokingham
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
07 November 2003

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Feature Sets

Finchampstead is in the south of the county, 7 miles SE of Reading and under a mile from the Hampshire border. It lies on the Roman road from London to Bath (the eastern part, from London to Silchester is known as the Devil's Highway). It is a good sized village, and the church stands in the old centre on a prominent hill. St James's has a rectangular 12thc. nave (two N windows visible inside) and apsidal chancel, with a square red brick W tower of 1720. On the N side is a chapel running the length of the chancel and most of the nave with arches from both. This addition is dated 1590 TH (above the outer door). Nave, chancel and N chapel are all rendered. Romanesque sculpture is confined to a font and a pillar piscina.


Finchampstead was held by Earl Harold in the Confessor's reign, and at his death at the Battle of Hastings it passed to William I. It remained in royal hands until Henry I granted it to Robert Achard, along with the lordship of Aldermaston. Later in the 12thc it was sublet to the Banisters, and it remained in this family until the late 13thc. The advowson of the church was vested in the lords of the manor.




Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


Stylistically the piscina is of a later date than the font. Its flat-leaf capital and especially the profile of the necking suggest that it was made in the last years of the 12thc. The font, on the other hand, is most comfortably dated in the second quarter of the century.


W. Lyon, Chronicles of Finchampstead, London 1895.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth 1966, 143-44.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 306-07.

Victoria County History: Berkshire III (1923), 241-47