A hub at the heart of three villages

Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that are needed to build a community space … like running water

Allchurches recently awarded a grant to help St James Church develop a community hub in its church building, so residents from the villages of Bix, Middle and Lower Assendon can have a communal space for gatherings, socialising and events.

The ‘new’ St James Church (a Grade II listed Victorian church built in 1874) is in the middle of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in South Oxfordshire. Apart from serving three small villages, the church, in conjunction with English Heritage, cares for the nearby ivy-clad ruins of the ‘old’ St James Church, which is described in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The ‘old’ St James is a listed ancient monument and just one of the parish’s curious, historical and scientific places of interest. To this day it remains consecrated ground and buildings, with outdoor services held beside the ruins a few times each year.

Caring for significant buildings and heritage, or undertaking community work and activities, requires a church to have at least some basic and appropriate amenities, such as toilets, kitchen facilities, disability access and roofs in good repair. And, in the case of St James Church in Bix, the most basic need for a long time has been as simple as having access to running water. In their words… “While we may not have expected the medieval builders of the ‘old’ church to have installed running water in 1086 AD; we are disappointed that the Victorians did not even provide us with an outside tap for the ‘new’ St James.”

We hope that with an early-stage grant from Allchurches, the funds continue to flow for St James Community Hub project, so this rural parish church can protect its heritage and keep it relevant for years to come, and grow as the social heart and soul of its parish.

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