St James Parish Church – Why our Greensand church is uniquely still Green!

Tuesday 12th September 2023 19:30 - 21:00

Our beautiful medieval church is uniquely built of greensand that is still GREEN! Dr Peter Skelton (Retired Reader in Palaeobiology at the Open University and recent Mayor of Woburn Sands) explains why.

We offer a rare opportunity to understand the unique history of our beautiful medieval church. The church is partly built with “greensand” stone, mixed with a dark brown stone. This greensand stone is from the local ridge of the same name and very unusually still retains its green colour. According to the building historian Pevsner this is unique to St James in Bedfordshire. Dr Peter Skelton has spent his professional life studying the area and has developed a fascinating illustrated talk – including specimens recovered from our graveyard. There will also be a rare opportunity to visit the church including an alabaster tomb with effigies of John Thompson and his wife Dorothy – unusual in a Parish Church. He was an auditor of the Exchequer, under Elizabeth I.

The earliest part of St James is the south arcade of the nave which is 13th-century work, and the aisle walls are perhaps of this date or rebuilt c. 1330. The chancel seems to be 14th-century, though much altered; the north arcade and aisle seem entirely of the 15th century, as does the tower, and the south porch may be c. 1500. The church was extensively refurbished, including new roofs and the redecoration of the interior, in 1911. We have We also have 8 bells, the earliest dating from 1611.

Our churchyard has been cleared and maintained to improve accessibility to all areas, but not full wheelchair access. There are attractive views across the valley and you may meet the friendly alpacas next door!