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St James Durham

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St James, Hunstanworth, Durham – Walks With A Vicar

Explore the glorious Church of St James, Durham with Rev. Peter Barham (Northern Vicar), discover the church history & amazing architecture.

On Thursday 9 July we went for a drive down to Hunstanworth, leaving the County as we did so. St James Hunstanworth – NY 949490 – is in County Durham, but in the Diocese of Newcastle.

St James Church durham
St James Church, Durham

The church, vicarage, school and cottages were rebuilt at one go in 1862-3 for the Reverend Daniel Capper. He was born on 28 October 1804 at St Pancras, moved to Cheltenham at the age of 12, and entered Queens College, Cambridge, in 1823. He graduated in 1828 and the following year married Anne Saunders. Her father was rector of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe in London.

The sheet about Capper on the noticeboard in Hunstanworth names the church as “St Andrew’s Wardrobe” which is a lovely image! Capper was priested in 1831 and became incumbent of Hunstanworth in 1834.

Much of the land belonged to his paternal grandmother’s family – they were the Ords of Newbiggin Hall (not the Newbiggin Hall in Newcastle, but one just across the Derwent). He was also made rector of Huntley in Gloucestershire in 1839. (His father got him that job!). Anne died in 1837, and he married Horatia – her father was an admiral. His mother died in 1861 and he inherited all the family wealth – and there was a lot of it. He spent it in Hunstanworth, Huntley and elsewhere. His health started failing in 1865, and he resigned from Huntley and sold off the Northumberland/Durham lands. He died in Cheltenham in 1886, and is buried in Huntley.

His architect was Samuel Sanders Teulon. Pevsner describes him as “one of the most ruthless and self-assertive of the High Victorian rogue-architects”. I thought this was rather rude, but it turns out to be an accepted term  – see the Victorian web is an article about Teulon himself. Born in 1812, he married Harriet, had four daughters and four sons, lived in Hampstead, and died in 1873. He was an Evangelical and designed many churches – including Huntley.

I like his geometic designs in the roof and the curves and shapes. There had been an earlier church on this site, which had itself been rebuilt in 1781. The pile of stone by the west end is the remains of a Pele Tower. I like the weather cock too.

St James

Inside we have a nice sturdy font, a large church – I’m sure it must seat more people than have ever lived in Hunstanworth – and a pulpit built into the south wall.

The Commandments are painted on the Chancel Arch, and the Chancel is rather nice too. Small organ, and an interesting Arabic carpet hung on the north east wall.

Stained glass in the Chancel is by Lavers and Barraud of London, in the Nave it is by Kempe, 1879 and 1881. Some of the shapes are almost as lovely as the colours.

Hunstanworth is a Thankful Village, a village that lost none of its men in the Great War. There are three memorials in church, and a lot of information at this website, and its local page about this village – there is a lovely photo of Joshua Jameson, one of the village men. Medwyn and Dougie have their own website.

Walk with a Vicar – St James, Hunstanworth contributed by Rev. Peter Barham, All Rights Reserved – Originally Published on in July 2015.

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Written By

Now retired, Rev Peter Barham is the Northern Vicar, a lover of exploring the UK and it's cultural heritage, we share his exploration diaries.

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