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Established January 17 1881
St. James the Less, Dorney, Bucks
East Berks & South Bucks branch of the ODG
St. James the Less, Dorney
St. James the Less, Dorney ©PB 5 Apr 2004
The church is very close to 'Dorney Court', a Tudor enclave with Great Hall, still home to thirteen generations of Palmers 300 years after Barbara Palmer was a mistress to Charles II.
Dedication: St. James the Less, Dorney

Service Ringing: Sun 9.00am

Practice night: Mon 7.30 - 9.00pm

Availability and Restrictions
  • Visiting ringers : On application
  • Quarter Peals : On application
  • Peals : By request only
The Bells (6) 7-2-13

Access to ringing chamber: 26 steps up spiral staircase

The weights of all the bells and the information on the three 1961 bells was contributed by Janet Gillard, tower correspondent in 2006.

In 1961 the bell frame was replaced with one for 6 bells, the tenor bell recast by Mears & Stainbank at the Whitechapel Foundry, who also cast two new bells. The treble was presented by the Provost and Fellows of Eton College. The second by Lt.Col.P.D.S.Palmer, himself a keen bellringer to make an excellent musical ring of six.

The other information on the three older bells comes from A.H.Cocks The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire, page 371.

A ring of 6, tenor 7-2-13, diameter 36”
Bell Weight
Diameter Date
Founder Foundry
Treble 3-0-22   1961 Mears & Stainbank Whitechapel Eton gave me for God's glory A D 1961
2 3-1-21   1961 Mears & Stainbank Whitechapel The Palmers gave me 1961
3 4-1-15 29 1698 William Eldridge I Chertsey WILLIAM ELDRIDGE MADE MEE [Lozenge shaped stop] 1698 [3 more stops]
4 5-1-0 30½ 1631 Ellis Knight I Reading PRAYES THE LORD X63X
5 6-0-14 34½ 1582 Joseph Carter Reading Blessed be the name of the lorde 1582 [Coin] Ioseph [Shield F7] carter
Tenor 7-2-13   1961 Mears & Stainbank Whitechapel RICHARD : SIDDING : THOS MARTIN : CHURCH : WARDENS : J77J



The church is built of English bond brickwork, Flemish bond on the 17th century Garrard chapel North of the chancel and on the Dutch Gable over the porch which was built in 1661 by Roger and Barbara Palmer, Earl and Countess of Castlemaine, to commemorate the birth of Anne, their first child.

The two stage embattled tower is of brick with freestone dressings round the windows. On the south side a hexagonal stair turret gives access to the belfry.

There are box pews and a 17th century gallery with the baptistery beneath it surrounded by medieval benches. The font is late Norman with columnar compartments sculptured with a cross flory and rose cinquefoil within a lozenge fleur de lis. It dates from the time of the Danvers family's tenure of Dorney Court between the Norman Conquest and the end of the 13th century.

The Garrard Chapel is a mortuary chapel guarded by gates. Inside is a colourful memorial to Sir William Garrard who died in 1607, his wife Elizabeth (née Roe) and their 15 children, all kneeling in pious attitudes.

One of the children, Mary, married Sir John Kedeminster, of Langley Manor, who designed the monument. Another daughter, Martha, married Sir James Palmer, of Wingham, Kent, who bought Dorney in 1628, following complicated and bitter family quarrels inside the Garrard family.

These notes were based on the church booklet, 'Dorney Church & Parish' published in 1992, kindly supplied by the tower correspondent.

Points of interest in church Church dates from the 12th century and has many interesting features.

Church facilities: Toilet can be accessed outside the church

Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SU924790

Eating Places: The Pineapple, The Palmer Arms, café in Garden Centre adjacent to church.

Local points of interest for non ringers:
  • The church is linked to Dorney Court, home of the Palmer family, a location frequently used for filming, e.g. Miss Marple, Inspector Lynley, Mrs Bradley Mysteries, etc. It retains a Tudor Great Hall inside and much brick nogging outside. In one corner of the Great Hall stands a stone pineapple, in honour of the first such fruit grown in England at Dorney.
  • Garden Centre next door.
  • Dorney Rowing Lake.

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