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St James, Wick, Glamorganshire

(51°26′15″N, 3°33′3″W)
SS 923 721
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Glamorganshire
now Vale of Glamorgan
medieval Llandaff
now Llandaff
medieval St James
now St James
  • Bill Zajac
  • Diane Williams
  • Bill Zajac

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The village of Wick is located about 2.5 mi SE of St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan and about 1.5 mi from the S Wales coast. The small church of St James stands near its centre. It is of a simple plan, consisting of a saddleback western tower, south porch, nave, separate chancel and vestry. In the churchyard, there is the stump of a cross on three steps. Two later round-headed squints flank the massive, twelfth-century chancel arch. Two steps lead up into the lower, square-ended chancel. There are a further two steps to the altar, which has a medieval mensa with what may be a simply incised central consecration cross.

The diocesan architect, John Prichard, carried out a thorough restoration of the church in 1871, when most of the walls and part of the tower were rebuilt. The south porch and vestry were constructed at this time. (Orrin (1988), 420; Orrin (2004), 191). Most of the windows in the church were replaced during the Victorian restoration, but a plain, Norman light survives in the south-west wall of the chancel. The nave is entered from the Victorian south porch, and, once inside, it is evident that the south door is set within a taller, unornamented, round-headed arch. A Romanesque tub font stands just within the south door. A doorway with a very pointed, almost triangular, head opens into the west tower.


At some time between 1148 and 1179, as part of an unspecified property exchange, William de Londres gave a 12-acre parcel of land to the priory church of St Michael at Ewenny on condition that the prior provide service at the chapel of St James at Wick three times a week. Although the original charter recording this grant has not survived, its text has been preserved in a 1516 inspeximus of Henry VIII (Conway Davies (1944), 136–7). Neither the Valuation of Norwich of 1254, nor the valuation undertaken in 1291 at the order of Pope Nicholas IV mentions Wick, and the chapel seems to leave no further trace in the documentary sources until after the Reformation.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Although some historians (James (1962), 62) maintain that Wick originated as a chapel subordinate to the church of St Bridget at St Brides Major, 4km to the north-west, the basis for that claim is unclear. After the Reformation, however, the chapel at Wick was certainly a dependency of St Brides. Wick was probably the chapel called ‘the Noige, which hath burying and christening in it as a parish church’, which Bishop Kitchin of Llandaff described in 1563 as annexed to St Brides Major and served by its vicar. In a 1631 survey of the manor of Ogmore, Edward Jones is identified as the vicar of St Brides Major and Wick. Wick is termed a curacy of St Brides in 1771 and 1835, and it continued to be served by its vicar until 1950.

Thurlby notes similarities between the Vale of Glamorgan churches of Wick, Colwinston and Llandow (Thurlby (2006), 178). All three are two cell churches with square-ended chancels. At each, just as at Marcross, the main entrance is the south doorway located in the middle of the nave wall. He remarks that this arrangement is paralleled in churches of a similar scale in Gloucestershire and may suggest that the western portion of the nave was sectioned off as a baptistery.

The general resemblance between the plain font at Wick and the imbricated font at Kenfig (St Mary Magdalene, Maudlam), some 9 mi north-west, prompts Thurlby to speculate that the Wick font may originally have been painted with a similar decoration.

In light of the close proximity of Wick and St Brides Major and the formal connections between the two churches (even though the latter can only definitely be documented from the post-Reformation period), it is worth noting that both have plain, round-headed Norman chancel arches flanked by later squints.


'Church of St James' (Cadw listied building report), available at http://cadwpublic-api.azurewebsites.net/reports/listedbuilding/FullReport?lang=en&id=11221 Accessed 22.03.2018

George T. Clark (ed.), Cartae et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgancia pertinent, 2nd edition, (ed) Godfrey L. Clark, 6 vols, (Cardiff, 1910).

J. Conway Davies, ‘Ewenny Priory: Some Recently-Found Records,’ The National Library of Wales Journal III, nos 3 and 4 (Summer 1944), 107–137.

J. Denton and B. Taylor, ‘The 1291 valuation and the ecclesiastical benefices of Llandaff diocese’, Archaeologia Cambrensis 147 (1998), 133–158.

E. M. Evans, ‘St James’s Church, Wick’, Glamorgan Historic Churches Survey: Churches in the Archdeaconry of Llandaff, Deanery of Llantwit Major and Cowbridge, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust report for Cadw, (1998).

C. A. H. Green, Notes on churches in the diocese of Llandaff (1906–7), 70–1.

Brian L. l. James, ‘Marcross, Monknash and Wick’ in Stewart Williams (ed), Saints and Sailing Ships, The Vale Series, IV (Cowbridge, 1962), 55–63 (59–63).

W. E. Lunt (ed), The Valuation of Norwich (Oxford, 1926).

J. Newman, The Buildings of Wales. Glamorgan (Harmondsworth, 1995), 645–6.

G. Orrin, Medieval Churches in the Vale of Glamorgan (Cowbridge, 1988), 417–20.

G. Orrin, Church Building and Restoration in Victorian Glamorgan (Cardiff, 2004), 191.

M. Salter, Old Parish Churches of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower, (Malvern, 2002), 2nd edn., 104.

M. Thurlby, Romanesque Architecture and Sculpture in Wales (Woonton Almeley, 2006), 178.