St James' Church
Church, free entry
St James' Church is a beautiful Grade 1 listed church located in the historic village of Tong. St James' is full of history and there has been a place of worship on the site for over 1000 years. The church grounds are home to a Garden of Remembrance and visitors can follow the Spiritual Journey, a Celtic style 'Caim' prayer circle.
The Church as it now stands was rebuilt in 1727 by a team that included John Nelson, a stonemason from Birstall who was later to become an important leader of the Methodist movement in West Yorkshire. The church replaced an earlier building that had been erected in 1140.
In 1980 during an extensive restoration of the church building important archaeological discoveries confirmed that there had been a Saxon church building on the site before the Norman church of 1140. Fragments of Roman pottery were found and a flint barbed and tonged arrowhead from the Bronze Age times. The latter confirmed the likelihood of there having been some kind of settlement in Tong for 3000 years.
Almost all of the church and its fittings are from the time when it was rebuilt in 1727. It was however built using some of the stone of the earlier Norman church and there are a few features in the church that date from both earlier and later periods.
Look out for the Norman arch, which supports the church tower, which is thought to have once been the chancel arch to the earlier church of 1140. The church also has beautiful stained glass windows, an organ dating from 1883, box pews and a rare 'three decker' pulpit.
The church also has six bells, which are now unable to be rung due to the need for extensive restoration. Future restoration is likely due to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A detailed leaflet containing more information on the church's history and the church grounds is available at St James'. Guided tours are also available at certain times in the year. Call for more information.