18th January to 2nd April

Monthly services will resume on the 2nd Sunday of the month in St. James the Great at 9:30am in May, June and July.

Clergy and congregation of St. James the Great pray that you and your loved ones remain healthy and happy and know that God loves you. If you would like anyone to pray with you or for you, please do contact anyone from the church.

We ask everyone entering the church to follow the current COVID-19 Government guidelines.

When entering the church, please wear a mask and sanitise your hands. You should check in on the NHS Track and Trace app with our QR code displayed on the noticeboard. We ask that you clean any pew you sit in when you leave.

Our vicar, Rev. Simon Kirby, is holding weekly online services at 10:30am on Sunday mornings and a prayer meeting on 'ZOOM' * on Thursday mornings at 9:00am.

If you would like to join either of these online gatherings, the details can be found on the St. Mary’s Cogges website as well as on our Facebook page.

* 'Zoom' is a free download so you can join in events or just listen.

Coronavirus

Vicar: Simon Kirby - 01993 702155 - simon@coggesparish.com

Associate Vicar: David Spence - 01993 778611 - david@coggesparish.com

Parish Office: (Sara & Judy) 01993 779613 - office@coggesparish.com

Church Warden: Position vacant.

Safeguarding Officer: Karen Wilson - 01993 771346 - karen@harbourviews.co.uk


St. James the Great

Our Vicar

Simon Kirby became the Vicar of St. James, South Leigh and St. Mary’s, Cogges in January 2013. Prior to that he had been a youth worker, school chaplain and church planter in North London. He is married to Sue and has two grown up sons. When not taking care of Parish business he enjoys walks in the Oxfordshire countryside, running, watching various sports and photography. One of the highlights of his ministry in South Leigh was hitting a six in the High Cogges v. South Leigh cricket match, which some would say proves the existence of miracles.

Simon Kirby

David Spence is the Associate Vicar at St. James, South Leigh and St. Mary’s, Cogges. Prior to joining the team in November 2019, he was a minister in Hull. He is married to Ellie and has four young children. He is delighted to be back in the Witney area where he trained as part of his curacy and looks forward to enjoying the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside once again.

Simon Spence

 

The clock goeth!

Our lovely old turret clock in the tower at St. James the Great is ticking again after resting silent for some two years.

The clock, reckoned to have come from Gloucestershire and made in the mid-18th century, was overhauled at the time of the millennium but, more recently, kept stopping just before it was due to strike the hour. Specialists were called in from Cumbria and the estimate to re-condition the clock and update its wonderfully ingenious, chain-driven, electric winding mechanism (above) was to be more than £20,000.

So, noting that it always stopped just before it was due to strike, we thought that if we simply disabled the striking mechanism with one cable tie, the clock should run, but without striking. The specialists agreed to try. (Above) Hey presto! It runs perfectly and it cost £210 plus VAT. Long may it tick.

Please call me if you see anything peculiar, you never know with old clocks. After all, it’s a century and a half old!

NB: when the clock winds itself and pulls the weight back up the tower, it makes a whirring noise that will appear to come from the ground level ringing room. Don’t worry about that... it will happen now and then as it automatically rewinds in order to keep the clock ticking.

Martin Spurrier, February 2021, 07799 368464

PS: Please don’t set your watches by the church clock as we can only expect a clock of its age to be accurate within a good few minute a month, depending on the weather, bats and how it feels. After all, it is over 250 years old and so the hour hand will have gone around more than 2.2 million times.

St.James the Great tower clock
St.James the Great tower winding mechanism
St.James the Great tower clock
 

The clock goeth!

Our lovely old turret clock in the tower at St. James the Great is ticking again after resting silent for some two years.

The clock, reckoned to have come from Gloucestershire and made in the mid-18th century, was overhauled at the time of the millennium but, more recently, kept stopping just before it was due to strike the hour. Specialists were called in from Cumbria and the estimate to re-condition the clock and update its wonderfully ingenious, chain-driven, electric winding mechanism (Left) was to be more than £20,000.

So, noting that it always stopped just before it was due to strike, we thought that if we simply disabled the striking mechanism with one cable tie, the clock should run, but without striking. The specialists agreed to try. (Right) Hey presto! It runs perfectly and it cost £210 plus VAT. Long may it tick.

Please call me if you see anything peculiar, you never know with old clocks. After all, it’s a century and a half old! [So roughly the same age as the author, then! Ed.]

NB: when the clock winds itself and pulls the weight back up the tower, it makes a whirring noise that will appear to come from the ground level ringing room. Don’t worry about that... it will happen now and then as it automatically rewinds in order to keep the clock ticking.

Martin Spurrier, February 2021, 07799 368464

PS: Please don’t set your watches by the church clock as we can only expect a clock of its age to be accurate within a good few minute a month, depending on the weather, bats and how it feels. After all, it is over 250 years old and so the hour hand will have gone around more than 2.2 million times.

St.James the Great tower clock
Clock electric mechanism
Clock workings

The biblical quotation on the clock face is from Matthew 24.42. Google has over 70 different translations of the original text, but here is a handy description of its meaning:

"Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" Then let me always live as though my Lord were at the gate! Let me arrange my affairs on the assumption that the next to lift the latch will be the King. When I am out with my friend, walking and talking, let me assume that just round the corner I may meet the Lord. And so let me practise meeting Him! Said a mother to me one day concerning her long-absent boy: "I lay a place for him at every meal! His seat is always ready!"
John Henry Jowett - My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year


Alarm bells rang at St. James's

The very thought of deathwatch beetle has struck fear in the hearts of property owners for eons. If you stand still, reputedly, you can hear them munching your beams away. The noise is actually caused by the beetles tapping their heads on the timber to attract a mate during courtship and was believed to presage a fatality, hence the beetle’s gloomy name.

The larvae bore into the wood, feeding for up to ten years before pupating, and later emerging as adult beetles only to start the process again.

So, when I noticed small, but growing, heaps of what looked like sawdust on ledges in the clock chamber below the bell chamber at our St. James the Great church in November, alarm bells rang (below).

Photos and samples were despatched and there was a suggestion that it might be caused by the dreaded deathwatch beetle. It made sense as they bore mostly in oak and elm, nearly always where the wood is over a hundred years old and damp, plus, they produce a sawdust-like ‘frass’.

The Vicar authorised the church’s architects to check it. So, with Caroline Edwards from heritage building consultants, Andrew Townsend Architects, we approached from the bell chamber above and used Caroline’s very flexible endoscope (below) to investigate through small holes in the floor boards presenting the images on her mobile phone.

We then lifted two of the chunky oak boards in the tight space beneath bell No 7 to find a wriggling mass of what appeared to be flies burrowing in the same-looking ‘sawdust’ that we’d seen in the clock chamber below (above).

Caroline called her colleague, Andrew Townsend, from the tower and he watched the images live via video-call at his office in Faringdon. He asked if the ‘sawdust’ was anywhere else. It was everywhere we could see in the gap between the floorboards and the ceiling below, and about six inches deep.

Guess what?

Our death watch beetle ‘frass’ was, in fact, perfectly normal sawdust that had probably been put there as sound insulation (also known as ‘pugging’ or ‘deafening’) in 1907 when the bells were re-hung and was now slipping through cracks that had opened up over time between the boards and the wall! And the squirming mass of what looked like flies, was exactly that, too. They were harmless, rather dopey attic flies, sometimes called cluster flies (not unlike bluebottles), that we had disturbed during their winter hibernation. These insects amass in places like attics and burrow in whatever they can find for warmth during the winter, before breeding in the spring. The Tower’s 1907 insulation was just perfect for them.

Crisis over! No deathwatch beetle, no borers or their frass. Just innocent, snoozing attic flies and good old Edwardian sawdust!

Martin Spurrier (February 2021)

Sawdust
Sawdust
 

Alarm bells rang at St. James's

The very thought of deathwatch beetle has struck fear in the hearts of property owners for eons. If you stand still, reputedly, you can hear them munching your beams away. The noise is actually caused by the beetles tapping their heads on the timber to attract a mate during courtship and was believed to presage a fatality, hence the beetle’s gloomy name.

The larvae bore into the wood, feeding for up to ten years before pupating, and later emerging as adult beetles only to start the process again.

So, when I noticed small, but growing, heaps of what looked like sawdust on ledges in the clock chamber below the bell chamber at our St. James the Great church in November, alarm bells rang (right).

Photos and samples were despatched and there was a suggestion that it might be caused by the dreaded deathwatch beetle. It made sense as they bore mostly in oak and elm, nearly always where the wood is over a hundred years old and damp, plus, they produce a sawdust-like ‘frass’.

The Vicar authorised the church’s architects to check it. So, with Caroline Edwards from heritage building consultants, Andrew Townsend Architects, we approached from the bell chamber above and used Caroline’s very flexible endoscope (right) to investigate through small holes in the floor boards presenting the images on her mobile phone.

We then lifted two of the chunky oak boards in the tight space beneath bell No 7 to find a wriggling mass of what appeared to be flies burrowing in the same-looking ‘sawdust’ that we’d seen in the clock chamber below (right).

Caroline called her colleague, Andrew Townsend, from the tower and he watched the images live via video-call at his office in Faringdon. He asked if the ‘sawdust’ was anywhere else. It was everywhere we could see in the gap between the floorboards and the ceiling below, and about six inches deep.

Guess what?

Our death watch beetle ‘frass’ was, in fact, perfectly normal sawdust that had probably been put there as sound insulation (also known as ‘pugging’ or ‘deafening’) in 1907 when the bells were re-hung and was now slipping through cracks that had opened up over time between the boards and the wall! And the squirming mass of what looked like flies, was exactly that, too. They were harmless, rather dopey attic flies, sometimes called cluster flies (not unlike bluebottles), that we had disturbed during their winter hibernation. These insects amass in places like attics and burrow in whatever they can find for warmth during the winter, before breeding in the spring. The Tower’s 1907 insulation was just perfect for them.

Crisis over! No deathwatch beetle, no borers or their frass. Just innocent, snoozing attic flies and good old Edwardian sawdust!

Martin Spurrier (February 2021)

Sawdust
Sawdust

 

Churchyard resurrection update

The churchyard has seen its final works for this season; many nettles and bramble roots removed, some areas rotovated, then raked all over. Wildflower seed has been scattered and trampled in and hedging planted in the gap on the western boundary. Thanks to some 20 villagers (to be named individually in a later report), but special mention to Martin Spurrier and Dick Pears for extra duties. Now it is up to nature to soften the impact.

Heather Horner 29.03.2021

Martin rotovating

Churchyard resurrection

South Leigh’s ancient churchyard is getting a makeover. Although never completely neglected, in course of time the brambles and nettles and ivy have overtaken parts of the perimeter, and nature has taken its toll on the ancient elms that once flanked the western boundary. A project is underway to refresh the outer parts of the churchyard and reinvigorate and extend the wildlife biodiversity. This will be done in stages, so that the existing populations of flowers and animals are not completely disrupted and have the chance to adjust.

A start was made in the summer, with the removal of some inappropriate self-set sycamores and brambles growing among the tombstones. Then at the start of December, a healthily large band of village residents joined a working party to tackle the dead elms which had persisted in inconveniently falling into the roadway whenever strong winds blew. Much of the rotting wood has been piled into wildlife refuges for bugs and fungi and small animals. Large areas of brambles and snowberry have been cleared into an enormous pile, which will either be allowed to rot down gently, or maybe some judicious burning if the weather ever improves. Or if you have a domestic fire, there should be some rescuable firewood, come and help yourself.

Church end after elm removal
Before elm removal (Photo © Heather Horner)

The northern and western boundaries were planted with Italian limes in 1832, so these trees are nearly 200 years old. Italian lime was very popular and fashionable in the Victorian era, but it has a strong tendency to send up shoots and suckers from the base, using energy at the expense of the main trunk.

Church end after elm removal
After elm removal (Photo © Heather Horner)

No doubt the Victorians had extra labour available to trim these suckers off every year, but ours have not seen such attention for many seasons. Added to that, ivy has been climbing some of the limes, making them top-heavy and at risk in a high wind.

Ivy is a very useful plant in the wider environment, it flowers late in the season, providing nectar and pollen for overwintering insects; my bees love it. But the combination of extra growth at the base and ivy up the trunks is putting the limes in danger, so a big part of the churchyard renovation is aimed at reducing this extra vegetation. Now the undergrowth has been reduced, it is delightful to see how many snowdrops and daffodils are emerging from the bare earth. There are plans to replant much of the exposed soil under the trees with native shade-loving flowers – a start has been made with Solomon’s Seal and stinking iris and hellebore.

The less shaded parts need some more help, please, to reduce the bramble roots and nettles, then my own mix of local wildflowers should have a good chance to establish, with some cornfield annuals to hopefully give a good show this year. The roadside hedge is now a bit gappy, though it gives tantalising glimpses of the historic church within; the gaps should be replanted with native hedgerow shrubs before spring. This is the first chapter in what we hope you will see as a community project, increasing access to our 1000 year old churchyard as well as increasing biodiversity. For instance, we are confident that we already have slowworms on site; their favourite refuge and sunning spot is a sheet of corrugated iron, which you may see tucked into a sunny corner. For the future, we need help with planting, maintenance, adding microhabitats (bird-boxes, anyone?), monitoring wildlife, all suggestions and offers welcome. Come and talk!

Heather Horner, Windrush Cottage, Station Road
01993 357389   hahwindrush@aol.com

Click on any of the images below to enlarge and see the team members at work!

A new view to the west
A new view to the west (© Martin Spurrier)
New light on the graveyard
New light on the graveyard (© Heather Horner)
Martin on digger
Thanks to David Pimm for loan of the digger

No doubt the Victorians had extra labour available to trim these suckers off every year, but ours have not seen such attention for many seasons. Added to that, ivy has been climbing some of the limes, making them top-heavy and at risk in a high wind.

Ivy is a very useful plant in the wider environment, it flowers late in the season, providing nectar and pollen for overwintering insects; my bees love it. But the combination of extra growth at the base and ivy up the trunks is putting the limes in danger, so a big part of the churchyard renovation is aimed at reducing this extra vegetation. Now the undergrowth has been reduced, it is delightful to see how many snowdrops and daffodils are emerging from the bare earth. There are plans to replant much of the exposed soil under the trees with native shade-loving flowers – a start has been made with Solomon’s Seal and stinking iris and hellebore.

The less shaded parts need some more help, please, to reduce the bramble roots and nettles, then my own mix of local wildflowers should have a good chance to establish, with some cornfield annuals to hopefully give a good show this year. The roadside hedge is now a bit gappy, though it gives tantalising glimpses of the historic church within; the gaps should be replanted with native hedgerow shrubs before spring. This is the first chapter in what we hope you will see as a community project, increasing access to our 1000 year old churchyard as well as increasing biodiversity. For instance, we are confident that we already have slowworms on site; their favourite refuge and sunning spot is a sheet of corrugated iron, which you may see tucked into a sunny corner. For the future, we need help with planting, maintenance, adding microhabitats (bird-boxes, anyone?), monitoring wildlife, all suggestions and offers welcome. Come and talk!

Heather Horner, Windrush Cottage, Station Road   01993 357389   hahwindrush@aol.com

Click on any of the images below to enlarge and see the team members at work!

A new view to the west
A new view to the west (© Martin Spurrier)
New light on the graveyard
New light on the graveyard (© Heather Horner)
Martin on digger
Thanks to David Pimm for loan of the digger

Services: 9:30am - 10:30am on Sundays

Our monthly services follow a set pattern, occasionally changing for special celebrations and festivals. Cockleshells & Winkles, our Sunday school, is during the service on the first and second Sundays of the month.

1st Sunday: Morning prayer with Sunday School
2nd Sunday: Holy communion with Sunday School
3rd Sunday: Gathered for worship
4th Sunday: Family communion
5th Sunday: Village breakfast

Safeguarding

Here at St. James the Great, South Leigh, we take safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults very seriously. Safeguarding is a central concern for us all as we seek to deliver on the promise of a church that is a safe and welcoming space for people of all ages.

We have a safeguarding policy and refer to guidance on the
Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children's Board www.oscb.org.uk or www.osab.co.uk and the information from Oxford Diocese Safeguarding department.

What can you do?

  1. If a child or adult is in immediate danger or requires immediate medical attention, call the emergency services on 999.
  2. If there are concerns about their immediate welfare, don't delay: call Children and Adult Social care on 0345 050 7666 or the Mash out-of-hours emergency Duty Team 0800 833408.
  3. Also please immediately inform our Parish Safeguarding Officer, Karen Wilson.
  4. If you have any safeguarding concerns and would like to discuss them you can contact Karen on 01993 771346 or email concerns to safeguarding@coggesparish.com
  5. If you are unsure or worried about how serious a situation is, contact one of the Diocesan safeguarding advisors, Stuart Nimmo on 01865 208290 or Sophie Harney on 01865 208295.
  6. For safeguarding information and e-learning safeguarding courses you can also go to www.oscb.org.uk

Flower Rota

I would like some help with the church flower rota please. The Sunday morning worship is at 9.30am and so flowers may be put in the church any time to suit you on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. You do not need to have any 'flower arranging' skills. There are plenty of pots and vases in the cupboard in the vestry. Flowers from the garden or market with a bit of greenery will look lovely. Please look at the St. James flower rota to choose a date, perhaps in memory of someone dear on a birthday or anniversary. The rota can be found here or on the notice board in the church porch.

Please contact Liz Ashwell - liz@southleigh.info or 01993 703534.

Notice anything suspicious?

Thieves have been at work taking lead from churches in Oxfordshire. If you see anyone working on our church, we would be grateful if you could contact us to verify their presence is known about.

St. James in the 21st century

It doesn’t seem long since I was writing to thank you all for your great response to our fundraising for the church roof repairs. However I think the years are just flying by. We have just had another Quinquennial inspection and have also started planning our next project to bring our church into the 21st century.  We had to put our plans on hold five years ago to raise the needed funds for repairs but have decided to try again to get water, and a toilet at the church and to develop the North Isle to provide seating and a reading area and to improve accessibility to the village millennium map. We also need to do work to improve drainage around the church and to upgrade the path to the church. This will be expensive to do but will be worth it.

Give whilst you shop online

We have signed up to a fundraising scheme called 'easyfundraising'. You can find out about how it works here. If you are planning to shop online please consider going via our own link and of course please also ask your family and friends to do so too.

Refuse bins

St. James has three refuse bins. Two for green compostable waste and one grey for landfill. Please put only green compostable waste in the green bins. Funeral wreathes often have plastic bases and Christmas wreaths often contain a metal frame both of which the refuse collectors refuse to take. Put those in the grey bin. Please put all paper, plastic, ribbon and cellophane in the grey bin.

A brief history

A brief history of the church can be seen on the 'Sacred Destinations' website here. Additionally, you can find all sorts of information about St. James the Great here. Click here to find out about St. Mary's, Cogges.

A church near you

There is a very good web site where you can find out more about the church and its history here. On it, there are also links to other sites from which you can learn about the medieval wall paintings and many other things besides.

The Witney Gazette published a feature on 10th January, 2018 entitled 'The preacher and the poet'. You can see that article by clicking the button below.

 

Churchyard work party

Let There be More Light at St. James’

While our church of St. James the Great still remained sadly silent in early August, after a discussion with the Vicar and a tree surgeon, plus a walk around the graveyard to assess the work, there was a flurry of activity there during the heatwave on the 10th and 12th.

This was the start of a number of jobs planned for the coming months, including the removal of dead trees that keep falling from perimeter hedge, and cutting back to let in light and to show off the beautiful mature specimens that form the backdrop to the church.

St, James the Great

After further discussion with the Vicar, we hope that we will be able to create a number of subtle 'windows' through the currently over-grown hedge to allow glimpses of the church in its tranquil setting.

'Barrow Boy takes the heat': Team Leader, Dick Pears, tidies up in 34 degrees.

Barrow boy Dick Pears, aka 'Team Leader'

There were concerns, initially, about potential delays because we thought that we might have to wait for a 'Faculty', which is a special Church licence, in order to start work. However, trees etc. are within the control of the Vicar and he, like us, was conscious of the limited resources available and the priority of pastoral needs, and so we were all in agreement to go ahead.

'Waste not want not': Heather trims pruned branches to make garden poles and supports for laden sloe trees in Bond's Lane.

Barrow boy Dick Pears, aka 'Team Leader'

Dick said, "This is another constructive South Leigh lockdown initiative and one that will beautify even further our most treasured asset. Many thanks to Heather for her advice on what to do with the trees, and to the Vicar for supporting the project and with whom we shall continue to consult".

Dick added, "Many hands make light work and we only had six. If you would like to help in any way as we move into the next phase, please let me know. You’d be most welcome. You can contact me at: dpea4cs@aol.com"

Martin Spurrier (14.08.2020)

Churchyard clearance team

'Cool scene': The heatwave work party take to the shade: The author, Dick Pears and Heather Horner.

Click or tap on the photographs below to see 'before and after'

Friends of St. James

The Friends of St. James is an organisation aimed at developing the links between the parish church, the regular congregation and the wider village and encouraging our numerous visitors to be connected to the wider life and ministry of the church community.

In return for a small annual donation, Friends will receive an annual newsletter sent by email, be able to attend an annual meeting including an historical talk, a tour of the church and afternoon tea, and have an information page on the South Leigh website, including advance warning of activities in the church such as the Music Festival, Art Festival, concerts etc.

They will also be invited to take part in major fundraising activities, supporting the congregation in the repair, maintenance and restoration of the church and the churchyard funds raised will not be used to support the day-to-day ministry of the church, but will be targeted solely at the building and the churchyard.

If you would like to join the Friends (minimum annual subscription £24, life membership £240), please pick up an application form from the shelf near the church door or let Nick Pike, Simon Kirby or Howard Chirgwin know and they will give you an application form.

Other payment methods are:

  • by cheque, made payable to 'South Leigh Parochial Church Council'.
  • by online BACS payment direct to our bank account, the details of which are:
  • Account name: South Leigh Parochial Church Council
  • Sort code: 40-47-07
  • Account no.: 30769533

NB: If you pay online, please also email a remittance advice to familychirgwin@hotmail.com (Please replace the 'xxx's' in the email with the amount of your donation and your name.)

Regardless of payment method, please consider gift aiding your donation as we can then claim the tax back too - you can download a Gift Aid form here. Please send the completed form to:
Karen Wilson, 21 Lymbrook Close, South Leigh OX29 6XL