St James' Church

The Church of St James was not built in 1872, from designs of A W Blomfield, well known for his work in building and restoring churches, and in particular as the architect of the great nave at London's Southwark Cathedral.

It stands on the site of an earlier church, which was built in 1842. Prior to that date, the Parish Church was at Shipton-under-Wychwood.

The building owes its erection very largely to the untiring efforts of the Reverend Robert Lowbridge Baker and his generous liberality. He ministered in Ramsden for forty four years.

The style adopted is that of the Decorated Gothic of the 19th Century and the building comprises a nave of four bays, with a chancel, a south aisle and transept, the latter serving as a vestry and organ chamber. There is a north porch, with belfry and spire above it.

The principal items to note are the porch, tower and spire, which were the gift of Mr Baker, in memory of his wife Mary (Noel) who died just before the church was opened. The tower contains a clock and three bells. The alabaster reredos behind the altar, with symbols of the four evangelists and the Resurrection window above it, both memorials of Mary Baker, given by her friends.

The oak chancel screen, erected in memory of Henrietta Hicks-Beach, Mr Baker's second wife and their daughter Marjorie, who died within two days of each other in February 1932.

Other memorials include the Faith and Hope window by the pulpit commemorating the life and work of the priest-builder of the church. In the south aisle, another window representing the crowning grace of Charity recalls the memory of Dame Harriet Hicks-Beach, widow of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, for many years a dearly loved resident of the Parish.

In the north wall is a Guardian Angel window commemorating Charles Sartoris, a former lord of the manor of Wilcote, while close by, four tablets recall the name of the Wynter family, residents of The Hays, and record the death within the brief space of eighteen months of first the father, then in battle the two sons - the mother following fifteen months later.

An adjoining window, of Christ blessing the children, commemorates William Howes, one time a church warden and for many years the village blacksmith. In the small window preserves the memory of James Hicks, for many years the Parish Clerk.

In the chancel, an inscription incised in the north wall commemorates the men of Ramsden who fell during the Great War of 1914-1918. The Communion Plate, consigned to safe-keeping, comprises a silver chalice of 1841 and two platens of 1802 and 1791. The Crucifix against the reredos is a Victorian adaptation of an 18th century candlestick. It is silver plated brass and, it is thought, belonged once in Hereford Cathedral.

The register of Baptisms and Burials date from 1842 and of Marriages from 1853. The previous registers, from 1538 onwards are preserved at the County Records Office.

The Christian Gospel was first preached in these parts in the 7th Century AD by missionaries from the churches in the North and Midlands. Amongst these, St Diuma, a Scottish monk and first Bishop of the Mercians, died at nearby Charlbury, in about 658 AD on one if his apostolic journeys. Churches were built very early there and at Shipton-under-Wychwood, and in the latter parish, Ramsden remained a part until 1861.

In Ramsden itself, from early times, there stood a Preaching Cross where the War Memorial now stands and thither the Holy Sacrament was brought by the priest from Shipton at the yearly processioning, another memorial of which remains in the 'Gospel Oak' on the Leafield Road, where station was made for the reading of the Gospel on those days.

For details of services, see www.forestedgebenefice.co.uk/