The Church of St James, Dudley, (C)

The Church of St James, Dudley, (C)
List of churches
Image by brianac37
View of the front of the church from the south west.



Though the church of St James is only just over one hundred and sixty years old, it takes the name of the patron saint of Dudley’s priory, a Cistercian foundation that stood in a wooden glade between the church and the castle. The priory was founded in 1155-60 by Gervase Pagnel, Lord of the Manor on behalf of Queen Maud. The priory was a cell of Wenlock Abbey in Shropshire and fragments of it survive today as does some mediaeval floor tiling. The ruins, in the grounds of Priory Hall, are now set about by houses of a modern estate. In 1282 the priory became the subject of Papal Arbitration when a very forceful Bishop of Worcester, William Cantilupe, claimed that both the castle and priory should be within his diocese. The pope eventually agreed to a compromise, the castle and priory going to Lichfield diocese and the town and its churches to Worcester. This odd state of affairs existed through the centuries until 1928 when the whole area became part of Worcestershire.

A substantial building, St James Church is in the early English style and had room for a congregation of several hundred (reduced in recent years). Externally, the main feature is the west tower, a lofty structure with an embattled top and with a pair of singularly tall lancet windows in each wall of its upper storey. At each corner are graceful buttresses and, on the west wall, a handsome window.

St James church is now a Grade II listed building.