St James, Cowley

St James, Cowley
OHCT grant: £13,500

Installation of toilets and other related works

The grant represents the first phase of planned improvements to this Grade II* listed building.

This first phase which was completed in November 2021 concerns the installation of a toilet, to be located at the rear of the church below the organ. The church is not on mains drainage so this work needed to be carried out together with the replacement of the panelling between the nave and bell tower (behind the organ). The installation has been sensitively designed using quality materials and is almost unseen behind the organ at the West end of the church. These facilities will enable the church to be used for more community activities, ensuring its continued benefit to the locality.


The Church of St. James, parish church of Cowley village, came to Osney Abbey in 1149, and the remaining Norman elements may date from soon after that. The Norman columns at the chancel arch retain their original paint, with spirals on one and lozenges on the other; this being a rare surviving illustration of interior decorative schemes. It has an exquisite reredos inlaid with pieces of marble from all parts of the country.

Entirely occupying the west end of the nave is a C19 organ removed here in 1896 from Carfax church and repainted in the mid C20 in a gold and red ‘medieval’ colour scheme 

As Cowley was industrialised and expanded in the mid C19 the previously small congregation grew with it, and in 1862-5 the church was almost wholly rebuilt by G.E. Street.

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