St. James the Great, Aslackby


The Largely 14th Century Church of Saint James the Great, stands in the centre of the village of Aslackby and in many ways is a focal point of the village. 

The Church is well maintained and has a bright, airy feel and a welcoming atmosphere. The decorative style is one of quiet modest simplicity. The seating is flexible, allowing the church to be used in a variety of ways and for a range of purposes. 

The church has an historic connection with the knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller: the remains of a Knights Templar Preceptory stand opposite the church building. 

St James Church has an 1856 chancel but this has blended well with the mediaeval parts. Inside, the light streams unhampered through many windows, the east window containing three emblems which tell much of the village's history. On the left is the red Maltese cross of the Knights Templar, on the right the white on black Maltese cross of the Knights of St John and in the centre is the scallop shell, the badge of pilgrims to the shrine of St James at Compostella in Spain . The simple walls are unadorned except for a tablet here and there to a soul long departed while in the chancel are more up-to-date insignia in two kneelers: one to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the other the Royal Wedding of 1981. There are lofty and graceful arcades with moulded arches and tall clustered piers, a narrow tower arch reaching almost to the roof timbers, an old font enriched with tracery, shields and Tudor roses, and a piscina and an aumbry in each of the wide aisles while the south aisle has a doorway to the former rood loft. 

On the west wall of the nave are three drawings of a building which was demolished in  1892. In 1843, the gazetter William White described it as "a square embattled tower of two storeys. The lower storey is vaulted and at the meeting of eight groins in the centre are eight shields of arms, one charged with a cross". He was referring to the 14th century gatehouse tower of the Preceptory of the Knights Templar, founded here about 1154 by Hubert of Rye who gave them their chapel ten years later. Like other Templar buildings, this was taken by the Crown in 1312 and subsequently passed on to the Knights of St John in 1338. The preceptory church was dedicated to St John and was still being served in 1514 and part of this church survived into the last century. There is a feeling of spaciousness inside the church because there are no pews, only chairs. There have never been pews here and this allows a more flexible use of space. Near to the door is an old stove, a reminder of the way the church was heated in earlier times.