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St James the Less, Stubbings and the Soltau Centre
The foundation stone of Stubbings Church was laid on 1st May 1849. The land had been purchased by Henry Skrine, who was living at Stubbings House at the time, having moved from the family estate at Warleigh, near Bath. He decided to build a church for the use of his family and the local residents.
The church was consecrated on 16th April 1850 by the Rt.Rev. Samual Wilberforce, Bishop of Reading. Because the foundation stone was laid on 1st May, the festival of St. Philip & St. James, the building was dedicated to St. James-the-Less. The side aisle was added to the church in 1854.
The church was first served by Rev. Edward Thring and by Rev. G.N.Hodson, incumbent of Cookham Dean. Mr. Skrine proceeded to build a vicarage and endow the living, to which his second son, Rev. W.H.Skrine was presented and went into residence as the first vicar, in November 1852.
In 1874 the parish of Stubbings was created out of parts of Bisham and Cookham parishes. In 1991 the parishes of Stubbings and Hurley became a united benefice (independent parishes but under the care of one vicar) and the parish of Burchetts Green was formed in June 2002 by the amalgamation of the parishes of Stubbings, Hurley and Littlewick Green.
The architect of the church was Richard Cromwell Carpenter (1812-1855) who designed a number of churches and parsonages including Cookham Dean church. Stubbings is an example of what became common later on but was quite revolutionary in the 1840's, the honest straightforward, soundly constructed, simple building, which was in the genuine medieval tradition.
Points of Interest
Record of past incumbents (west wall)
Note that several incumbents held the living for a considerable time. The fourth vicar was Henry Skrine's eldest son.
These date back to the early days of the church. They are hand made of brass. Those in the nave are surmounted by a cross except that over the font, which has a crown. This chandelier originally hung in the chancel but was moved when the chancel lighting was revised.
The east window depicting the Ascension was given in memory of the founder, by his widow in 1854.
At the same time his two eldest sons gave the two windows in the west wall, depicting St. Philip and St. James. St. Philip is shown holding a basket of five loaves because of his connection with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, and St. James is shown holding a bible because of the epistle of St. James, and a club because of the manner of his martyrdom.
The small round window in the west wall was given by the builder of the Church, Richard Silver of Tittle Row.
The wall paintings
The original plain walls were painted in 1898 with the decoration being more extensive than now; in particular the chancel arch was fully decorated and the texts round the windows and doors were joined with a continuous painted band. Exactly when this work was over-painted is not known. The texts are mainly well-known sayings of Jesus but two around the windows in the south wall are from the epistle of St. James: "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only" and "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God".
The small vestry is original but the larger (choir) vestry was built in 1962 with materials which came from a church at Braywood, near Windsor, demolished that year. The door, windows and ornaments on the external walls all came from Braywood. The vestry was designed by Mr.Garem Slater, a member of the congregation, and dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Harry Carpenter, Bishop of Oxford.
The original organ was a Hill instrument built in 1883. The present organ is a Rodgers electronic organ installed in 2003. It replaced a Walker pipe organ installed in 1966.
The Reading Desk
A brass eagle lectern was given to the church in 1900 by Mr. F.O.Wethered. This was stolen from the church in May 1971. A somewhat oversized replacement brass eagle lectern was reading desk also stolen by thieves who took it out through one of the side aisle windows. The chancel has now been re-arranged so that the oak priest's reading desk is used both to lead the worship and also as a reading lectern.
The Hassocks (Kneelers)
The hassocks were made by a number of parishioners over a period of several years starting in 1999. The patterns are mostly Hassocks designs made from various items of the fabric or fittings around the church - in most cases the same pattern being used several times in different colours. All the hassocks were sponsored, by individuals in memory of family events or people, or by various organisations.
This was part of the original church. It was restored by the men of the parish in 1961 in memory of Mary Penny who Stubbings Porch was Clerk and Sexton of the church from 1921 to 1958. Mary's father, John Penny, was Clerk and Sexton from 1861 to 1921.
The Lychgate was erected by the parishioners in 1887 in memory of the first vicar, Rev.Wadham Huntley Skrine.
The War Memorial
The stone cross on the verge outside the churchyard was erected in 1920 and unveiled on 3rd October that year. It records the names of the men of Stubbings parish who gave their lives in two world wars.
St James-the-Less, or the Little, is probably the same as James the son of Alphaeus, who is mentioned in all the lists of the Twelve Apostles. He is, maybe, "the same as James, the Lord's brother, who became Bishop of Jerusalem and the writer of the Epistle of St James"; the Western Church thus identifies him.
O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life; Grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life; that following the steps of thy holy Apostles, St Phillip and St James, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.Collect for SS Philip and James' Day
n addition to the church, the founder also built a school across the road. The school closed in 1934 and was then used as the church hall until it was sold in 1995 for conversion into a private house. The proceeds were used to build the new parish hall (the Soltau Centre) in the matching flint style of the church. The architect was Mr.Rex Johnstone RIBA, a parishioner and a regular member of the congregation. The hall was opened by the Bishop of Reading, Rt.Rev.John Bone, on 25th.May 1996.
This record was originally compiled by the Rev. Dr.J.A.Nairn, and revised by Rev. B.A. Soltau, Vicar of the parish 1953-1990 to commemorate the centenary of the parish of Stubbings, 1874-1974. It was updated in 2008 by Roger Strike.
The Soltau Centre (behind the Stubbings church)
The Soltau Centre, is located behind Stubbings church is a modern well equipped building used for a wide variety of parish and other community activities. It also houses the parish office which is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9.30am to 11.30am.