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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

•Victorian days at St James’...a snapshot taken shortly after the church was abandoned in 1865.

•Victorian days at St James’...a snapshot taken shortly after the church was abandoned in 1865.

•Running taking place to stabilise the walls in 2010.

•Running taking place to stabilise the walls in 2010.

Now Trust moves to save Wyeside ruin?

THE isolated and romantic ruin of St James’ Church, Lancaut, near Tutshill – thought to be one of the oldest buildings in Gloucestershire – has been purchased from The Crown for just £1 by the Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust.

It is planned the acquisition will secure the future of the little church for years to come.

Officials from English Heritage visited the lonely and beautiful site alongside a loop in the River Wye last Friday. They explored the building in the company of architects and will formulate plans to conserve the remains.

The Trust already has funding in place from an environmental trust to enable builders to carry out a programme of stabilisation. This could cost around £50,000.

Chairman Mr Jim Chapman said he hoped the work would begin next summer.

Describing St James’ as an important and valuable asset, he said its roots were certainly pre-Norman and perhaps even earlier. It is hoped further investigation will reveal significantly more of its ancient past.

“It is a hugely important building and its isolation is one of its joys,” said Mr Chapman.

“There was once a little community there. Traces of former buildings can be identified and there are headstones in the churchyard,” he added.

The village was never large. Ten houses are recorded there in 1306 but by 1750 there were only two inhabited properties. By the 1860s the congregation had become so reduced that services were only being held there in the summer months. It was finally abandoned in 1865.

The roof and the interior fittings, together with the font, were removed. The cast lead font, made from the same mould as other locally, can be dated precisely to between 1120 and 1140. It is now in the Lady Chapel at Gloucester Cathedral.

In the 1980s the chancel arch partially collapsed prompting some restoration. At that time there was also an archaelogical study. Repairs were undertaken to the churchyard wall in 2010.

The church was finally deconsecrated in the 1980s.

•The Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust was formed two years ago. Among its projects it is hoped to rescue and preserve the 1683 blast furnace at Gunns Mill, near Flaxley.

All content © of Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review unless stated otherwise.

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