Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard of St James's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Stirchley and Brookside, Telford and Wrekin

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Latitude: 52.6573 / 52°39'26"N

Longitude: -2.4452 / 2°26'42"W

OS Eastings: 369982.849522

OS Northings: 306711.290365

OS Grid: SJ699067

Mapcode National: GBR BY.5LQF

Mapcode Global: WH9D9.DGVP

Entry Name: Churchyard of St James's Church

Scheduled Date: 11 October 2002

Last Amended: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020852

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34930

County: Telford and Wrekin

Civil Parish: Stirchley and Brookside

Built-Up Area: Telford

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Central Telford

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the buried remains of the churchyard of St James's
Church, situated within the village of Stirchley, now part of the new town of
Telford. The church was probably founded in the mid-to late 12th century and
originally served as a chapel of ease (a chapel built for parishoners living
some distance from the parish church) within the parish of Shifnal. The parish
of Stirchley was established in the early 13th century and from that time the
church of St James became the parish church. A small settlement grew up around
the church, and documentary sources indicate that the agricultural community
here remained very small until the 19th century. The parish continued to be a
largely rural area until the late 20th century when administrative changes led
to the parish's abolition. In 1975 the church of St James became redundant.

The church has a 12th century stone chancel, a brick-built 18th century nave
and tower encasing medieval (probably 12th century) masonry, and a 19th
century brick-built north aisle. The church is a Listed Building Grade I. The
ground beneath the church is included in the scheduling in order to preserve
features associated with the earliest phases of the building's construction
and use, including evidence of the full extent of the 12th century church.

The churchyard surrounds the church of St James on all sides. It is a
polygonal enclosure, which is defined by a hedge on its western and southern
sides, and by 18th and 19th century stone walls on its north western, northern
and eastern sides. These boundaries are not included in the scheduling. The
churchyard is considered to have been the main burial place for the
parishoners of Stirchley from the 13th century (and probably the 12th century)
onwards. In addition to human remains, the cemetery will contain the remains
of coffins, associated fittings and artefacts buried with the deceased,
together with the evidence of former paths and other subdivisions, and the
original boundaries defining the churchyard. The most recent burial monuments
within the churchyard date from the 18th century to the late 20th century.

The church, the 18th-20th century burial monuments and the surfaces of the
modern paths are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all
these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

The survival of the churchyard of St James's Church provides the opportunity
to study the medieval and later burials of a discrete and largely rural
population in the western midlands of England. Examination of the skeletal
remains would provide an insight into living conditions, diet, state of
health, causes of death and life expectancy of this population. Examination of
these graves will also provide information about social differentiation within
the population, and about changes to burial customs and other ritual
activities. In addition it is expected that archaeological deposits
relating to the construction and development of the earliest phases of the
medieval church will survive as buried features within the churchyard as
well as below the current church.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume XI, (1985), 184-85
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume XI, (1985), 194
Meeson, R, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in The Enigmatic Norman Chancel of the Church of St James, , Vol. 64, (1985), 17-24

Source: Historic England

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