The Way of St. James

A Camino pilgrimage through the Frome Valley

New launch date, The Feast Day of St James, Sunday 25th July 2021!

After a year of waiting for Covid restrictions to lift we are now looking forward to welcoming visitors to our churches and to officially opening the Camino Frome Valley on the Feast of St James, 25th July. Visitors will be able to collect a 'credencial' at St James, Stanford Bishop and stamp it in each church along the way. Church services will be happening in Stanford Bishop 8.30am, Bishops Frome 10am and Much Cowarne 11.30am, feel free to walk in at any point during a service to stamp your credencial. Light refreshments will be available at all of the churches on the day. 

We hope to leave our churches open during daylight hours from this point onward, as they were before Covid restrictions forced us to lock them, so pilgrims can walk this route at any time after the official launch date.

The World's shortest Camino through the English countryside

Welcome to the web site of what may be the world's shortest Camino walk, from the Church of St James the Greater in Stanford Bishop to the Church of St James the Great in Ocle Pychard.The route is approximately 15kms long mostly on a combination of well marked footpaths and quiet country lanes.

These Churches are both dedicated to the same saint (so neither greater than the other!) whose relics are buried in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Both of these medieval churches are part of the Frome Valley Group of Parishes, a group of eight churches set in the beautiful surroundings of the Herefordshire countryside. This little Camino walk also passes two other churches in the group both dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, one in Bishops Frome and the other in Much Cowarne. 

Although we originally planned to launch this little Camino walk on the feast day of St James, Saturday 25th July 2020 in honour of the great Saint this was delayed due to Covid restrictions. This year the restrictions will finally be lifted just in time for the feat of St James 2021. For all Camino enthusiasts we will be providing 'credencials' or pilgrim passports at St James, Stanford Bishop and a set of unique 'sellos' (stamps) will be available in all four churches to collect along the way. 

Refreshments will be available in the churches and the village of Bishops Frome boasts two pubs where food, drink and accomodation is available.

St James the Greater, Stanford Bishop

St James the Great, Ocle Pychard

St James the Greater, Stanford Bishop

This beautiful little Church stands amid fields on a hill with a circular churchyard and extensive views in every direction. To the south the Malvern hills; to the east, the Suckley Hills; to the west the Frome Valley. This has probably been a place of worship since neolithic times evident from the standing stone which can be seen in the hedge beside the gate to the churchyard. The churchyard also boasts one of the stoutest yew trees in the country. With a girth of over 24ft (7.3 metres) it is estimated to be around 1,200 years old, planted around the time of the Viking invasions.

The building is late Norman and Early English (replacing an earlier wooden structure) with a squat tower, which opens into the church through a late 12th century arch. The south door is a little earlier and has a round arched doorway of uncertain age. ​ Inside the decoration is plain and simple, but has recently been re-decorated throughout and a kitchen facility installed with tea & coffee making facilities for weary pilgrims.

There is a Jacobean pulpit and a Norman sandstone font. However the item of most interest is St Augustine's Chair, believed to have been used by Augustine in the early 7th century when he met the British bishops of the Celtic church in an attempt to bring them under Papal oversight. 

St James the Great, Ocle Pychard

This small but attractive church is medieval but of uncertain date, although thought to be around 13th or 14th century. Victorian alterations are evident but traces of the original features can be found, such as the doorway high up in the wall above the pulpit which would have led to the former rood loft across the chancel arch. 

Of the medieval church the nave and chancel, with its 14th century piscina, have survived. The nave was later extended westwards, possibly as late as the 18th century. A tower was built in the early 19th century, to which a timber spire was added in 1872, which was covered by copper in 1922. The spire was part of the repair and restoration of the church in 1869-72 by William Chick, architect of Hereford, from which period are the present windows, the pews, and stained glass in the east window.

One of the east windows above the altar features St James the Great wearing his pilgrim sombrero and carrying his pilgrim staff complete with water gourd. He is to the right of the risen Christ whilst to the left of Christ is the figure of St James the Less, another of Jesus' disciples. In the south window is the unusual scene of Melchizedek King of Salem. Pilgrim scallop shells are in abundance on the relatively modern altar rail.

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