A monthly service on the 2nd Sunday of the month is being held at 9:30am in St. James. If you would like to attend the service, please book by contacting the Parish office. If you can’t make the service 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.

The church will be open daily from the Wednesday after a service until one week before a service.

November’s service is on Sunday 8th November. The church will be locked from Saturday, 31st October until Wednesday 11th November to ensure the safety of church services.

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 at when you leave.

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.

We are all missing seeing each other in these difficult times but this is the next best thing.

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


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

After its long rest, our lovely clock at St. James the Great is ticking again.

However, to do this until we can afford to have the clock totally rebuilt, we have had to disable the strike because that side of the mechanism was taking the power from the clock movement and causing it to stop.

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, 04.12.2020 07799 368464

St.James the Great tower clock

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


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