Friday, October 02, 2009

St James, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

This is the medieval parish church in the centre of the town, an important building, and with three porches, two tall ones with parvise rooms above to the north and south, and a low west porch; all three were vaulted, all three had fancy metal gates and all three had chains around the gates. No contact information anywhere in any of the porches or on any of the notice boards. How are people supposed to contact this church to arrange a wedding or funeral, when if ever is it opened for visitors? Whereas Holy Trinity felt alive and part of the town, albeit difficult to reach over the two lanes of circling traffic, this church set in the heart of the county town of Wiltshire in the pedestianised area, and one of the most important buildings in the town did not feel like it wanted to be part. Even the town trail sign I passed omitted the church as one of the sights - why?

Trowbridge is not alone here, as the same I found applies to the churches at Bradford on Avon Chippenham, Corsham and Melksham, all fairly nearby. However BoA Chippenham and Corsham publicise some limited opening times in the mornings or weekends and there was a phone number at Melksham, but here at St James in Trowbridge nothing. Shameful.


  1. It is very unfair of you to criticise St James without knowing all the facts. The church is open daily between 10 and 12 noon when we can get stewards. Our Insurers will not allow us to open without stewards as we have already had artefacts stolen. We are also in interregnum so the notice regarding baptisms, marriage and funerals is being changed and will be returned to the notice board as soon as possible. Your comment regarding the non signposting of the church in the town centre is noted and will be taken up with the relevant people. If you wish to call again please do so on a Wednesday when the church is open from 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon when a healing ministry takes place. This church is a vibrant living church and serves the community well. You do a grave mis service to criticise us in the way you do.

  2. I am glad to hear that there are some changes afoot at St James,and your assurance the church is indeed connected to the community and "vibrant". The text on my blog remains my experience on the day in question, and that of another couple I met and talked to outside who were visiting from further afield than myself. Their disappointment was tangible. The comments reflect how I personally felt and what perception padlocks and chains with no information can give to people wanting to access the most historic and interesting building in the town.

    You say that I "do a grave mis service to criticise (the church) in the way (I) do" and "without knowing all the facts". Surely that can be applied to the way you did not appear to cater for visitors on the day in question, and how is a visitor (whether tourist or local) expected to know any facts unless there is an up to date information board?

    Ecclesiatical (who insure many of England's churches) usually recommend the opposite to most churches - it is better to have an open church (with precious easy to move artefacts suitably secured/removed where possible) which encourages visitors than a locked one where damage is caused to gain access. I am sorry to hear you have had items stolen. Also an active policy for open churches is seen as a postive when heritage bodies are considering making grants for repairs etc.

    Thank you for posting the information about opening times. I will definitely return and wil happily write again of my experience when I do so.

    I hope you also succeed in getting the church added to the town trail signs and maybe a keyholder could be advertised which could include the Tourist Information Office as in some other places where a key could be kept.

  3. It would appear that here we have a major town church with no signs and no information displayed. It would also appear from Gingertopsy's comment that finding the church open requires one to arrive between 10 and 12 (on days when there are stewards - and who knows what days these are). Otherwise, from what I read, there is no information. How can you, Gingertopsy, claim this is unfair criticism? What's more I think it is ridiculous to claim Churchcrawler is doing a "grave mis-service" (sic). He's doing a very useful and important service - pointing out that your church needs to do something about providing information for visitors.

    I record church locking as part of what I do - I even have a site on it ( - under "Church Locking") which shows the status of many of the c.6500 churches I've visited. Churches that lock their doors with no keyholder information (a minority I should add!), or those that have opening arrangements with not a word on what times they are open, are being very unfair - unfair on the visitor! Parish churches belong to all of us, not just the Sunday Club.

    If a church PCC can't be bothered to provide even simple information and hides behind the excuses of interegnums and advice from insurers for not doing so, then what does that say about it?

    One can talk all one wants about a vibrant living church but a padlocked building with no information tends to indicate quite the opposite I'm afraid.

    May Churchcrawler's criticisms long continue!