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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

St James’ Church

Originally a Saxon church it is assumed that St James' is one of  the three, unnamed, Dover churches listed in the Domesday  Book. The present structure dates from about the 12th century. As well as being a place of worship the church was also the  meeting place of the official courts of the Barons of the Cinque  Ports. Their last meeting was in 1851 and was presided over by  the Duke of Wellington as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. By the 19th century the old church was in need of enlargement  and restoration. It was decided that it was not possible to build  a sufficiently large church on the old site at the top of St James' Street, and a new site further north on Maison Dieu Road was  selected. The new church was built between 1860-2 and when it opened  became the main parish church. The old church was used by a  group of French protestants for a few years and was eventually  restored in 1869.   The old St James' was severely damaged by enemy shell fire  during the Second World War. It was hit several times by shells, the tower eventually collapsing. In 1948 it was decided to leave it as a ruin to commemorate the people of Dover who, like the  church, suffered much during the war. The new St James' Church survived the war relatively  unscathed but much of the parish it served lay in ruins and it  was declared redundant and demolished.  
Old St James' Church c.1905. New St James' Church c.1890. Back to Churches Index Old St James' Church in the Second World War. The church has been damaged but the tower is still intact. Old St James' Church in the Second World War. Half of the tower has collapsed. Old St James' Church in the Second World War. The tower has collapsed into the nave. Old St James' Church in the Second World War. The church by the end of the war. Old St James' Church in 2004. The ruins of the church as a memorial to the destruction of war. Old St James' Church in 2004. Detail of the carving around the door.