History of St James
St James’ Church, Sewards End
The original church room was built in 1847 on land provided by Thomas Westrope Gayton, a local landowner, under The Church Building Act and by funds provided by general subscription. The first service was an evening service held on the 4th November 1847. The room was also used for a school, originally known as Sewers End Chapel School but latterly as Sewards End Church of England Primary School. At the outset the number of children attending was about 70. In 1870 the building was enlarged by an extension to the south which became the church. The school continued in the original northern room but latterly an infants’ class was held in the church with the chancel being curtained off and with the pews moved. The school closed in 1947.
The church is a chapel of ease of St Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden. The church seats about 40 people but that number is increased to100 when the partitions shutting off the northern room are removed. Additional seats are provided occasionally when required.
The later part of the building is in a lancet style with a polygonal apse and a belfry with flèche. The architects and builders of both parts of the building are unknown. The churchyard is gravelled and there is no graveyard. In 1940 an air raid shelter was built in the playground/churchyard. The structure remains but the land on which it stands has been sold.
For a number of years, eg. including 1882 to 1914, there were weekly services at 3pm. By 1969 there was a service every Sunday but in 1984 the frequency was reduced to fortnightly which is still the case.
Some of the village dates back to the 11th century. Today Sewards End has about 190 houses and about 140 children.
A village history was written in 2000 and republished in 2009. Copies can be obtained from Tracy Coston (Tel: 01223 894462). The Parish Council was set up in 2004.