Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ever wondered what it is?

Today wasn't nice. The wind got up to 50mph in gusts and the rain was nasty. To compound it, the cold that I was developing in Clitheroe came to it full blown maturity today and my ears, throat and all my joint ache. It's a good job that the medicine I take for colds is so palatable, hot Whisky, (or better still Whiskey if you got some Jameson's) honey, lemon and sugar. It probably doesn't work, but it is at least worth trying.

Looking at my study window there were a few drops of rain, had I been looking west instead of east there would have been many more.

When I was at the vets the other day, visiting a sick Bonxie, I finally got to see what this doorway was all about. I've passed it dozens of times but never stopped to look. It is the remains of St Jame's Church, and is almost nest to the swimming pool.

Originally a Saxon church it is assumed that St James's is one of the three, unnamed, Dover churches listed in the Domesday Book. The present structure dates from about the 12th century. As well as being a place of worship the church was also the meeting place of the official courts of the Barons of the Cinque Ports. Their last meeting was in 1851 and was presided over by the Duke of Wellington as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

By the 19th century the old church was in need of enlargement and restoration. It was decided that it was not possible to build a sufficiently large church on the old site at the top of St James's Street, and a new site further north on Maison Dieu Road was selected.

The new church was built between 1860-2 and when it opened became the main parish church. The old church was used by a group of French protestants for a few years and was eventually restored in 1869.
This picture, copied from the information plaque, shows the original church.

The old St James's was severely damaged by enemy shell fire during World War 2. It was hit several times by shells, the tower eventually collapsing. In 1948 it was decided to leave it as a ruin to commemorate the people of Dover who, like the church, suffered much during the war.

The new St James's Church survived the war relatively unscathed but much of the parish it served lay in ruins and it was declared redundant and demolished.

1 comment:

Adam said...

That first photo just about sums up the day! Good to read about St James in Dover, passed it many times and wondered if it was a 'war' ruin? You've answered all my questions!