Gallery: St James’ Church, Cooling

WP_001747I recently visited the wonderful little church of St James located in the idyllic village of Cooling on the Hoo Peninsula. While it was a very wet and windy day, the church provided a very warm welcome and respite from the dreadful weather. Whilst the church itself is now redundant, it is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust who, working in partnership with The Friends of St James’ Church, ensure that the church is kept open to the public all year round and maintained for future generations to enjoy and explore.

The following information is taken from the St James’ Church website which provides plenty of useful information on this beautiful building and its literary connections with Charles Dickens who immortalised the church in Great Expectations, probably his greatest work.

If you haven’t visited, I can thoroughly recommend doing so.

Charles Dickens used the churchyard of St James’ Church as his inspiration in the opening chapter of Great Expectations, where the hero Pip meets Magwitch the convict. The site – on the Hoo Peninsula with marshes stretching north to the Thames estuary, is dramatically desolate and bleak in winter, recalling the sinister opening scene in David Lean’s 1946 film of the book.

Here, you can find what have become known as Pip’s Graves – the forlorn gravestones of 13 babies that Dickens describes in the chapter as “little stone lozenges each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their [parents’] graves”.

Inside, the church is light and spacious. There is a 500-year-old timber door that still swings on its ancient hinges – even though it now leads to a blocked north doorway! Another quirky feature is the 19th-century vestry – its walls are lined from top to bottom with thousands of cockle shells – the emblem of St James.

The monuments in the church walls and floor are a fascinating record of those who once lived here. They include a slab with a brass effigy of Feyth Brook, who died in 1508 and was the wife of Lord Cobham, of nearby Cooling Castle.


About Chris Irvine

Husband. Father. Libertarian. Glenman. Liverpool fan. Singer. Songwriter. Ulsterman. Glass half full kinda guy. Smoker.

Posted on June 17, 2012, in Chris Irvine, Cooling, Hoo Peninsula, Isle of Grain, Medway, Photography, St James Church and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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