Dorney, St James the Less Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The ornate 17th century Garrard monument
The font is set at a lower level than the rest of the nave, down several steps. Perhaps it was too difficult to raise the heavy font when the nave floor was raised so it was simply left at the original floor level?
The font stands beneath a wooden 17th century gallery, which would have been used by musicians playing during services, or perhaps by servants from the manor house who would have been separated from their 'betters' below. The original coat hooks are still set on the gallery walls.
The chancel arch is 14th century, and the nave has several interesting 17th century pews, including a large box pew for the Palmers of Dorney Court.
Three medieval wall paintings survive inside the church. Two of these flank the doorway to the Garrard Chapel in the north wall of the chancel. On one side of the door is the Virgin Mary, while on the other is a figure of the Archangel Gabriel. Together these two figures are thought to have been part of a larger Annunciation scene. They probably date to the early 14th century. The paintings were hidden beneath lime wash since the Reformation, and were only rediscovered in 1926. third section of medieval painting can be seen in the gallery loft, to the south of the tower arch.
The Garrard Chapel was added in the late 16th century as a mortuary chapel, probably replacing a 14th century chapel in this location. It is accessed through a set of very nice 17th century wooden gates.
Within the Garrard Chapel is the historical highlight of St James' an ornate monument to Sir William Garrard (d. 1607) and his wife Elizabeth. The style is typical of the early Jacobean period, with the couple kneeling within niches, facing each other, while their numerous children - 7 boys and 8 girls - are arrayed in prayerful attitude across the base of the tomb.
Five of the children carry skulls, a symbol that they died young. So 5 out of the couple's 15 offspring died in childhood, a reminder of just how difficult life could be even for the wealthiest classes. Because of the deaths, some of the children's names were re-used for subsequent births. The figures are painted and gilded, and the effect is simply marvellous.
THE GARRARD MONUMENT
Other features worth noting include the small 'dolphin window' in the north wall by the base of the gallery stairs. This was installed in 1991 after an older window was stolen. It shows a brightly coloured dolphin, starfish, fish, and shell.
The church has regular open days in summer, and is usually open when the manor is open. I highly suggest making a joint visit to see the manor house and church together!
Address: Court Lane, Dorney, Buckinghamshire, England, SL4 6QP
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Immediately behind Dorney Court manor house. Parking near the gates to the manor drive.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Dorney Court - 0.1 miles (Historic House)
Bray, St Michael's Church - 1.5 miles (Historic Church)
Taplow Court - 2.3 miles (Historic House)
Eton College - 2.6 miles (Historic Building)
Legoland - 2.8 miles (Family Attraction)
Windsor Guildhall - 2.9 miles (Historic Building)
St George's Chapel - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Windsor Castle - 3 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Dorney:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
St Ives Road
Tel: 01628 796 502
Fax: 01628 796 971