Friday 25 October 2013

Ancient places St James Birdham

I've written previously about my fascination with the Yew tree, most often found in ancient church yards and in many cases pre-dating the Christian worship and marking the site as a place of pagan meeting. St James in Birdham by the shore of Chichester Harbour is no exception; there are no less than three yew trees around the church entrance including this magnificent specimen.

St James church is no less interesting and equally ancient, the Nave is 14th century but the site dates back to 635BC, that’s getting on for 1400 years old, and well before the time that King Canute, one of our early Anglo Saxon kings was trying to hold back the tide at nearby Bosham.

Not all of the church is quite so old, the stained glass was installed in 1978 and not without some humour, take a close look at the top right which features a modern centre cockpit ketch.

Quite a lot has happened over those 1400 years, this embroidery inside depicts various saintly acts, my favourite is St Dunstan who in the 10th Century famously pinched the devils nose with a red hot pair of blacksmith's tongs.

 We’re fortunate to have so many ancient churches locally which give a real and vivid connection back into our history. If you are interested I recommend fellow blogger Chris Partridge who when he’s not rowing visits and writes about Sussex churches.


  1. Thanks for the plug, Max. I haven't done Birdham church yet - I think I will go today!

  2. Didn't get there today - weather no good for photos. Also, if you search on Fishbourne, Aldingbourne and Midhurst in, you will see some more boats in stained glass, including, at Aldingbourne, a submarine.

  3. Submarine


    I can't remember where I got it but there's a google gadget you can embed to your blob which only searches blog posts - helps as I can never remember where and when I've left things

  4. That Yew tree is stunning, I had no idea of it's fascinating history. Thank-you for sharing.

  5. I believe this tree to be a Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and not a Yew!


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