St James Church Trowbridge

Date of installation: August 2015

Listing: Grade 1

Boilers: 2 x Potterton Sirius 110kW

Radiators: Minster type 33

Controls: Churchwarden intelligent

History of the church

The parish church of St. James was built outside the castle, around 1200, to serve to serve the growing town. The earlier church was demolished and the site levelled. This church was nearly as long as the present one and the dedication to St. James seems original as a fair, granted to the town in 1200, was to be held on the vigil, feast and morrow of St. James. Alterations and additions were made in the 14th century and these comprise most of the earliest work visible today. A spire was also added to the tower and John of Gaunt, the lord of the manor, may have rebuilt the chancel. Around 1450 the nave and chapels were demolished and the church rebuilt on grander lines in the contemporary Perpendicular style. This probably took 30 years and made the church much as we see it today. Only the tower, spire and chancel of the old church remained. The present Wyke Chapel was probably set aside for the Brotherhood of Corpus Christi (suppressed at the Reformation) who were in the church. In 1484 the wealthy clothier James Terumber put all his lands in trust to pay for a chantry priest; the chantry has not survived.

In the time of Elizabeth I the chancel was given an elaborate ribbed plaster ceiling and in 1540 John Leland described the church as ‘lightsome and fair’. The 17th and 18th centuries saw much non- conformist activity in the town and the parish church suffered periods of neglect with many of the wealthier townspeople being Dissenters.This led to the building being in very bad condition by the mid 19th century with the spire out of the perpendicular and held together by iron bands, pieces of masonry falling off and with dangerous columns and arches.

The subsequent restoration was due to the energies of the Rev. J. D. Hastings and was completed in 1848. He also tidied up the churchyard and gave some of the land for the widening of Church (formerly Back) Street and the graveyard was closed in 1856. In the church itself there are only 18 monuments that pre-date the restoration. Between 1926 and 1930 battlements, pinnacles and the top of the spire were repaired while in 1953 the Duke (south) chapel was restored to its original purpose as a Lady Chapel. The original eight bells in the church had been increased to ten by adding two war memorial bells after the First World War. In 1934 they needed re-hanging and it was decided to increase the peal to twelve. A town fund raising campaign was a great success and each bell was adopted by an individual or a local organisation. Usher’s Brewery adopted the tenor bell, named the ‘T.C. Usher Bell’ and also named their new pub in Shails Lane ‘The Twelve Bells’ in honour of the event. In May 1986 the roof of the nave caught fire and there was substantial water and smoke damage. Restoration costs were £200,000. Worse happened on 25th January 1990 when, just after midday the town was hit by a strong gale that blew off the top of the spire, which fell through the previously undamaged part of the nave and ceiling. Fortunately no one was injured and the church was restored at a cost of £400,000.


The original heating system consisted of a Victorian water filled radiator system that had been converted to gas some 40 years ago, but with what were now becoming ageing and inefficient gas boilers. We were asked to replace the boiler plant and increase the comfort levels whilst keeping within the confines of the churches budget.

Our brief was further complicated by stipulations be put on how the new boiler plant was to be flued as the church advisers requested that no balanced nor vertical flues should be visible.Our solution was to fit twin Potterton Sirius condensing boilers working in tandem to serve the existing low pressure hot water system which was enhanced with the installation of a further six heat emitters discretely located. The system was converted to a sealed system and the flue had a specialised liner fitted. New intelligent controls were fitted resulting in substantial energy saving.

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Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Ltd
9 Salmon Fields Business Village
Druggitt & Harding

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