Church History, 1843 to date.


Church log books recording repairs and projects carried out at St James’ were not introduced until 1987.

Listed below are outline details of such work carried out on the church together with “landmark “ events which have been extracted from PCC minutes which go back to 1938, and from documents held in the  County  Records Office, Northallerton.

1843. 25 July. William Henry Dawnay marries  Isobel Mary Bagot. (Aged 18)

1846 . William becomes 7th Viscount Downe on death of his father.

1847. Moves to Yorkshire and lives in Baldersby Park.

1855? William and Mary decide to build a beautiful church on their estate. Enlist William Butterfield as Architect.

1856. 22 May . Viscount Downe lays foundation stone for church. Builder: Master Builder R H Norris of London a close associate of William Butterfield

1857. 26 January. Viscount Downe dies in Torquay and is buried in the St James churchyard.

1857.  Church dedicated on Sep 29th 1857. Archdeacon Edward Churton, Archdeacon of Cleveland, and Rector of Crayke gives the address the theme of which is “Thankfulness” .

           Peel of eight bells, cast by Taylors of Loughborough were given “first touch” to the Otley Bell Ringers. There was a malfunction as the seventh bell could not be raised as the clapper struck the wall of the tower. The bells could only be chimed. 

1857. Parish of Baldersby St James taken out of the  Parish of Topcliffe. Rev J Bowles first Incumbent.

1858. First “ Vestry” meeting held on February 3rd in the Church Vestry at 11.30am.

           Present.  Rev Bowles , Curate.

                            Rev  Edward Malleson.

                            Mr William Wright.

                            Mr Morley

                            Mr William Judson

                            Mr William Dixon

                            Mr John Broadwith

                            Mr Christopher Rainforth.

          Mr William Wright appointed Clergyman’s Churchwarden

          Mr William Judson (Rainton) appointed Parish Churchwarden.

1858. Revd Robert Francis Wilson becomes incumbent vice Rev Bowles.

1859-1866. Vestry meetings held in the Vestry during Easter Week. No minutes appear to have been taken and thereafter the Vestry meetings became intermittent. 1874-1875-1880-1881-1889.           

1863.Rev Edward Malleson appointed incumbent vice Rev Wilson.

1880. Ellacombe chiming apparatus fitted.

1880  Rev Alfred Payne appointed vice Rev Malleson

1890. Taylors of Loughborough rehung four of the bells creating three separate levels. This triggered a short revival of full circle bell ringing using five of the eight bells.

1891. Rev Payne writing in the Parish Magazine. (Edition 65)  states: “It would much add to the success of the Reading Room (Rainton) and tend to encourage the desire for order and improvement if the farmers would all subscribe and occasionally use the room which is intended for social comfort and convenience” Parish Magazine. Annual Subscription, 1s

1892.  St James the Great Christmas Day Collection. £10-17-9.

            Baldersby Mission Room Christmas Day Collection. £0 – 0 – 8.

1902. 20 March. Fire breaks out in Baldersby Park destroying much of the building.

1905. Bells deemed unringable in the “The Bell News and Ringers Record”

1912. Binns Organ installed at St James.

1914. Rev W Zachariah Jones appointed vice Rev Payne.

1914. Repairs carried out to roof tiling, church floor, and churchyard wall.

           Cost £34 -10 – 7.

1920 Rev Thomas Henry Foulkes appointed, vice Rev Jones.

1920. Conveyance of School Buildings and School House and a parcel of land  amounting to 0.660 acres all told from the Downe estate to the Vicar and Church Wardens. Should the school close the site would revert to the estate.

1926. Baldersby Park Estate broken up and sold. Church loses patronage of Dawnay family.

1927. Bells inspected by Mr Hughes, Church Bell Foundry, Whitechapel.

           “We have no hesitation in saying that your tower is the worst case of overloading that we know of”. Ellacombe Chime Apparatus “Very poorly fitted having no ratchet and pawl adjustment for      each rope” (Letter 22 Sep 1927)

1927.  Baldersby Womens Institute formed in October.

1930. Rev Henry Congreve Horne appointed vice Rev Foulkes

1932 . Baldersby W I Branch. Subscription set at 2/- per annum. President, Mrs Jones. Hon Secretary, Miss H Wells, Treasurer, Mrs Fuller. Meetings held in Reading Room every second Tuesday in the month  at 6.30pm. Activities. Raising Pork Pies, Dyeing and Dry Cleaning, Fruit Bottling, Millinery, Quilting.

1936 Rev George William Boddy MA appointed, vice Rev Horne.

1939. Faculty granted for the installation of a tablet in the memory of Major Foulkes.

1939. Inspection of bells and belfry carried out to see if there was any danger of collapse.

1939. Vicar, Rev Boddy, called up for war service on 12 December.

1941. Secretary  writes to the Bishop pointing out continual changes of vicar were detrimental to the well being of the church.

1941 Electric lighting installed in the Baldersby Mission Room.

1943. Roof repairs carried out.

1943. Alterations made to the choir stalls.

1944. Fifty prayer books bought.

1944. Secretary writes to Bishop of Whitby asking for the return of Rev Boddy.

1944. Problem with the chancel carpet. Several clergymen had tripped over it and had narrowly escaped injury. Carpet removed

1944. Secretary advertises for the following posts: Stoker 5/- per week, Cleaner 8/-per week           

           Mr K Guyll appointed organ blower.

1945. Rev Boddy returns. At the  PCC Meeting held on Wednesday 7 Nov gives a short resume of the war years and his experiences.

1945. Expert to be called in to examine the church bells – preferably from Taylors of Loughborough who hung them in the first place.

1946. PCC agree to add the names of those in the parish that fell in World War II to those names already on the memorial.

1947. One ton of salt bought for use on the church paths.

1947. Binns repair the organ.

1947. Buckles repair the vestry chimney which had been struck by lightning and removes jackdaw nests.

1948. Coconut matting laid down the aisle.

1948. Church horse drawn hearse sold to Mr Bassitt.

1948. War memorial renovated. Financed by Catharine Buckton

1948. Electricity installed in the Rainton Mission Room at a cost of £11.

1948. Baldersby Womens Institute 21st Birthday Party, Baldersby St James School October 12th.

1949. Tower louvres wired to keep out pigeons. Church clock repaired.

1950. Rev GW Boddy dies. Rev Bernard Hugh Newsam MA inducted.

1950. East window reported in danger of breaking. Provisional estimate by Anelay Ltd for the repair.  Amounts to £250.

1951. Electricity installed in Church by Thompsons of Thirsk at a cost of £115.

1951. PCC draws up list of duties for church cleaner, Mrs Rigg. Mrs Rigg authorised to buy an electric fire and an electric boiler for hot water.

1951. Baldersby Mission Room benches sold to the Cricket club for 25/- each.

1951. Repair work on East Window begins . Cost now £400. Appeal launched to raise funds. Window given an external protective glass screen

1952. Church Club Room billiard table sold. Proceeds given to the East Window repair fund.

1953. Church Wardens staves left to the Church by Miss Gillam as a memorial to the Rev Jones, former Vicar of the Parish.

1953. PCC agrees to buy 50 copies of the Coronation Service.

1953. PCC agrees to funding repairs to Vicarage Roof. Hargreaves of York to carry out the repairs at a cost of £886-18-7. Viscount Downe offers £25 per annum over a seven year period towards vicarage roof repairs.

1953. Rev B H   Newsham quoted in local press stating;

         a. Church of St James was built because Lord and Lady Downe wanted a beautiful church on their estate.

         b. The purpose of the prominent cross within the graveyard was to commemorate the fact that the land encompassed by the graveyard wall had been given to the church by the Downe family.

         c. The church suffered from subsidence and poor foundations hence the recent problems with the east window.

1954. New Hymn and Prayer Books bought through a bequest from Richard Fuller  

1954.   Water laid on to the church     Cost £23 – 15 – 0

1954.  Heating installed                          Cost £159

1957.  Church Clock converted to electricity

1957.  Path from Lych-gate to Church Porch tarmacadamed.

1957.  New vestments made.

1957. Relatives of Viscount Downe request that PCC be responsible for upkeep of Downe Family graves. PCC  negotiate a fee of 10/- per annum.

1958. Hands of clock found to be too heavy for electric motor and changed.

1958. Quinquennial inspections introduced at a cost of £15-15-0 per inspection.

1958. Bells pronounced unsafe to ring full circle. In a letter dated 16 October Leeds University enquire about a possible sale.

1959. Faculty granted for the Brennand Memorial Tablet to be installed.

1961. 7 year covenant made by Viscount Downe ends.

1962.  Inspection of lightning conductor and weathervane carried out

1963. Church roof deemed in urgent need of repair

1964. Lych- gate roof wired to exclude birds.

1965. Litter basket installed for dead flowers at back of Church.

1967. Louvres in Church tower repaired.

1967. Church broken into and locks damaged

1968. Unknown donor presents gives money for a new sanctuary rail. Mr George Pace appointed as Architect regarding its design and installation. New rail dedicated on March 13.

1968. New Common Service adopted.

1968. PCC approves the sale of the Vicarage.

1968. Church handbells sold for £30.

1968. South aisle roof inspected by Architect and deemed in urgent need of repair.

1968. Pigeon problem in the tower.

1968. Heating boiler no longer serviceable

1969 Rev Brian Braithwaite Johnson appointed vice Rev Newsham.

1969. Oil fired boiler and fan convector heaters installed by Robinson Heating Limited, of Hampsthwaite.

1970. South aisle roof repaired. Lead sold and replaced with tiles. Cost £163-8-9

1970. Chapel furnishings from Skellfield School offered to PCC who accept.

1971. North aisle roof repairs shelved. Repair work carried out in Belfry.

1972. Repairs made to Lych-gate

1973. Skellfield Chairs divided between Baldersby Mission, Rainton Mission and the Vicarage. Skellfield Altar to be installed at Baldersby Mission and Baldersby Altar to go to Rainton Mission.

1973. Baldersby Primary School threatened with closure. Baldersby children to Pickhill, Baldersby St James children to Topcliffe and Rainton children to Dishforth.

1976. PCC approves the purchase of Welton House, Baldersby St James. Welton House to be the new Vicarage. To be paid for through the sale of the Old Vicarage adjacent to the Church.

1976. October 1st. Rev Johnson gives last sermon at Harvest Festival in the presence of Viscount and Lady Downe

1977. Rev Walter Smith appointed Vicar, vice Rev Johnson

1977. Parish becomes part of Thirsk Team Ministry.

1977. PCC proposes to fence off the Churchyard and graze off the grass with sheep.

1977. Baldersby WI Golden Jubilee Produce Show. 30 July. Beech House Garden and the Mission Room,  opened by Mrs Walter Smith.

1978. Bristol bookseller contacts PCC to say he has a Record Book of St James’ Church dated 1859. PCC replied that they were not interested.

1978. PCC consider creating a Garden of Remembrance in the Churchyard for those who had been cremated specifically Miss Mather, (Left £2000 in her will to the church.) Mr. J Stephenson, and Mrs Dixon.

1978. Rainton Mission handed over to Rainton Village.(Bought by Baldersby PCC for £10 in  1953 but County Hall had no record of the transaction.)

1979. Lady Chapel floor repaired.

1979. Balderby Mission Room floor repaired by Warringtons for £180.

1980. Lower part of interior North Wall painted white  by volunteers

1980. Crucifix on War Memorial damaged.

1980. Gowns for Choir purchased.

1981. Rev’d Walter Smith appointed Vicar of Topcliffe ,Dalton and Dishforth thus reuniting most of Ancient Parish of Topcliffe under one incumbency.

1984. March 27.. Mr Norman Wharton and Mr Terry Potter elected Church Wardens. Mrs Rosemarie Carter elected Deputy Warden.   

1984. Judge Gill writes to the PCC complaining of children turning Baldersby Mission Room into a play area and disturbing the peace. Archbishop of York involved.

1984 . Gales damage stained glass church windows.

1984. Framed list of past Vicars placed in back of church at a cost of £38-50. PCC decide that it is to be a memorial to Mrs Pat Fryer.

1984. PCC  approve oak sign board with the name “St James the Great” to be placed at the Lych gate entrance.

1985. New gates at Lych gate made and hung by Mr Willis free of charge.

1986. Vestry floor repaired by  Buckles for £350.

1987. Safe donated to church for the storing of church silver by Mr George McLean.

1987. Iron gate fixed to Baldersby Mission Room door. Children’s noise reduced.

1987. Archdeacon during visitation states that church is to maintain a log book for repairs.

1987. Tower windows damaged by children. Parents to pay for damage.

1988. 6 March. Rev Walter Smith leaves Parish.

1988. New Benefice formed. Baldersby with Dalton , Dishforth and Skipton on Swale.

1988. Visitors Book purchased and placed in the church.

1988. May 21st.  Induction of Rev’d David F  Baker

1989. Church Guide produced.

1989. Letter received from Dr C P Turner, Tower Captain of St Mary’s Church, Stow in Lindsey, Lincoln stating that he wishes to buy the Dawnay Bells. The Vicar declines to part with them.

1989. Two  candlesticks stolen from the church.

1990. Storm damage suffered by the circular west window designed by Wailes. Quote of repair from Ripon Glass £521. This was too expensive and temporary  repair work was done by Mr Terry Potter thus keeping out the birds.

1990. New heating boiler installed. Cost £1265. Old boiler sold for scrap raising £90

1991. Ist August. Deanery of Mowbray created by merging the Deaneries of Thirsk and Northallerton.

1992. PCC consider repairing the Chancel Ceiling with a grant from English Heritage.

1992. Church broken into and a window damaged.

1994. Archdeacon during visitation, decrees that silver and altar frontals be professionally photographed.

1994. Baldersby Mission Room floor repaired and a “time capsule” put under it by children from Baldersby St James Primary School.

1995. Yew and cherry trees deemed surplus to requirement felled in churchyard.

1996. July 1. Rev’d David Baker retires and moves, with his wife Marjorie, to Ripon

1997. Diocese decide to sell the Vicarage at Baldersby  St James, (formerly Welton House). Part of the money from the sale used to repair Topcliffe Vicarage.

1997. PCC endorses proposal to start a new parish magazine (Internet) for the five parishes.

1997. The Rev Christine Haddon-Reece inducted. Lives in the new vicarage at Topcliffe with her husband David.

1998. Heater (60W) bought for the vestry.

1998. PCC carry out research regarding the possibility of ringing the  bells at the Millennium. Verdict, possible but to be chimed only.

1998. PCC endorses use of New International Version of the Bible.

1998. Pathway from Lych-gate to church porch re-surfaced.

1998. 22 December. PCC meets and decide to re-activate the bells in time for the millennium.

1999. PCC decide to install a computer driven electromagnetic chiming system to operate the Bells.

1999. New lectern bible donated by Mr Michael Walker and from the estate of the late Mrs Susan Helps

1999. Ellacombe Chiming System restored by Mr Stuart Carter.

1999. Millennium Seat installed on south side of church overlooking the Churchyard.

1999. Electric lighting installed inside the tower.

1999. Mr Lawrence Willis of Topcliffe builds computer cabinet for bells free of charge.

2000. Millennium Bell Ringing takes place at midnight. Electronic hammers made by Taylors of Loughborough.

2000. 6 February. Service of re- dedication of the Bells conducted by the Right Reverend Robert Ladds, Bishop of Whitby

2000. Time capsule installed in the Church.

2000 Mr Kit Norris volunteers to produce the Parish Magazine now  titled “Cross Talk”

2000. Children’s Club closes after eleven years.

2000. Kneeler’s Project introduced to celebrate the Millennium.

2000. Lower interior church walls re-painted with emulsion by volunteers.

2000. Church silver valued at £21,660 by John Phillips.

2001. New service books introduced for Holy Communion.

2001. Repairs to stained glass window carried out at a cost of £728.

2002 Mr Sebastian Rowe appointed Church Architect vice Mr Simms.( Mr Rowe now Church Architect for all the Benefice)

2002. December 2. Taylor Hastwell Steeplejacks carry out survey of Tower and Spire.

2003. Brass Memorial plate installed on the organ in memory of Mrs Barsties, much loved Church Organist and PCC Secretary for sixteen years.

2003. March 18. Quinquennial Inspection carried out by Church Architect, Sebastian Rowe. Highlights repair work required to save  the tower and spire.

2003. April. Adjacent parish of Dishforth joined to Baldersby by Order in Council  on closure of  Christ Church Dishforth .    

2005. PCC applies for a grant from English Heritage for repairs to the Tower and Spire and is successful. Tower and spire restored and weathercock re-gilded.

2006. Sound system installed. Financed through a bequest from the late Olive Potter.

2007.Sunday September 23rd 150th Anniversary Celebration of Church of St James Preacher. Right Reverend Robert Ladds, Bishop of Whitby. Lady Downe in attendance.

2007. Chimney repaired by Stone Technical Services . Financed through Parish Funds.

2008 Rev Haddon – Reece re-assigned to new parish on North York Moors.

2008. June 3. Quinquennial Inspection  carried out by Church Architect, Sebastian Rowe. Report focuses on the poor state of repair of the rainwater goods  and drainage.

2008 Interregnum

2010. Rev Robin Davill appointed vicar . Based in Easingwold.

2010. April. First and only recorded inspection of Font and Candelabrum counter balanced lifting systems  carried out  by Stone Technical Services . Financed through Parish Funds.

2011. Improvements made to church lighting. Financed through Parish Funds.

2011. August 27. Theft of 628 square feet of lead stolen from North Aisle Roof. “Temporary” repairs implemented using corrugated iron. Financed through parish funds.

2011. Ecclesiastical Risk Management Report prepared following visit by Insurance Consultant and Surveyor, David Parker on 21 November .

2012 Rev Davill suffering from ill health retires.

2012 Interregnum. 

2012. Disabled Toilet and Kitchen installed. Architect . Peter Pace. Funded by Yorventure and the Big Lottery Fund. Builder Mr Peter Wright of Baldersby.

2012. Church Floor tiling restored. Work carried out by Terry Potter . Financed through Parish Funds.

2013. June 4. Quinquennial inspection carried out by Church Architect , Sebastian Rowe. Report highlights the poor state of repair of the nave and chancel roofs.

2014. Rev Susanne Jukes appointed vicar.

2015. New coconut matting aisle carpet installed . Financed by Jean Potter.

2015. December. Survey of Chancel Roof carried out by Mr David Everingham.

2016. January. Archbishop Sentamu Diocesan Pilgrimage. 6 January visits St James and lunches in the church with pupils from Baldersby St James, C of E Primary School.

2016. Internal Porch Steps replaced. Funded through Parish Funds.

2016. Church Website set up by Darren Hotchin of Ripon. Financed through Parish Funds.

2017. Nave and Chancel Roofs restored together with associated drainage and rainwater goods. West Window repointed. Chancel window restored. New church notice boards installed. Book of Remembrance produced. Guide book produced. New south aisle path constructed. Funded            through Heritage Lottery Fund  grant.

2017. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Plate installed at Lych-Gate in respect of War Grave relating to Ordinary Seaman Ernest Bowes.

2018. May 1st. Fourth Quinquennial inspection to be carried out by Mr Sebastian Rowe, Pearce Bottomley, Architects. North and South Aisle Roofs deemed in need of urgent repair.

2018. November 11th. Service of Remembrance and lighting of Beacon to celebrate the end of the First World War at Howefield House Farm (Grid Reference 36157672). Part of “The Battle’s Over – A Nations Tribute. Post service refreshments held in Church adjacent to exhibition of First World War memorabilia co-ordinated by Stuart Carter.   

 2019. February 10th. Ranson Roofing begin repairs to the Lych Gate Roof. The refurbishment of the cross and light fittings carried out by Churchwarden Mr T Potter. Projected completed by 1 May 2019.

2019.  June 23rd  Dedication of new Altar Frontals, Hangings and Vestments. All were made by Mrs Katy Campkin and Mrs Susan Brown of Baldersby.

2019. October. Corrugated iron on North Aisle roof replaced with terne coated steel.

2020. March 8th. Benefice Service at Queen Mary’s School, Baldersby Park followed by Breakfast at Queen Mary’s. (Last service taken by Rev Susanne Jukes.)

2020   March 23rd. Covid-19 Pandemic. Lockdown No 1. Church closed.

2020.   April 30th. Rev Susanne Jukes retires. Farewell party cancelled. Interregnum begins.

2020.   June. Rev Jukes leaves Topcliffe Vicarage and retires to her cottage in the Tees Valley, County Durham. Topcliffe Vicarage left empty pending a new incumbent.

2020.  May. Lockdown eases and Church of St James is opened for private prayer. This leads to Church Services being held provided hands are sanitised, face masks worn and social distancing (2 metres ) observed. Services taken by Rev Terry Dyer a retired Vicar formerly the incumbent of St  Paul’s Church, Hoddleston.

2020. July.  Lychgate Roof guttering repaired by Mr Terry Potter.

2020.  October. Mowbray Deanery circulates Development Plan for the Deanery. To be discussed at the Synod meeting to be held on 8 December 2020.  The Development Plan does not include an Incumbent for the Benefice of Topcliffe.

2020. October 31st  Second Covid  -19 Lockdown begins. Church remains open for private prayer and for  twice monthly services  taken by Rev Terry Dyer.

2021.  January 1st. Topcliffe Vicarage occupied by a tenant having been empty for six months .

2021.  January 4th Third Covid-19 Lockdown. Church closed for private prayer and services. Church yard remains open.


In September 2014 our church was entered on the Heritage England “At Risk Register” due to the poor state of the exterior of the church.

Briefly this included all roofs, rainwater goods and some of the stone mullions on the windows.

On 6th November 2022 we received a letter from Giles Proctor – Heritage England Architect- to congratulate us, as

we have been removed from the 2023 “At Risk Register” and we are now classed as being in “Good Order”.

This is a mammoth feat by everyone connected with the church and as long as our ongoing maintenance is carried out in a timely fashion, should ensure the integrity of the building into the foreseeable future.

Our energies will now be focused on the interior of the church – updating the radiators is in the pipeline and in the budget (thanks to funds from our Book Sales) Fund raising will be needed to repair some of the smaller windows, extend the heating where possible and perhaps attempt the restoration of the beautiful paper in the Sanctuary Roof!

We now have a new architect, Ian Hayton, and next spring he will carry out a “Quinquennial Inspection” as required by the diocese. This will be a detailed report of the fabric of the church and enable us to prioritise maintenance as per his report.

Only 11 Grade 1 listed buildings in Yorkshire were removed from the register. St James Church is hugely important in architectural terms as it is set in a Conservation Village also designed by Butterfield and we are seeing increasing numbers of visitors.

Information compiled by:


PCC Archivist

28 January 2021