The Sunday School in 1908
June 1885 magazine reported about the flourishing Sunday School:
“The numbers still continue to increase, and in addition to
some fifty older ones who attend classes at Mrs. Fitz Wygram's and
at the Vicarage, there are now two hundred and ninety two upon the
books.” By 1910 attendance was so great that it became
impossible to seat all the children in church, so they had a separate
short and simple service in the church room at the same time as the
main service in church. By 1936 there were three “departments”
in the Sunday School, meeting at various times during the morning
and afternoon. In 1952 it was decided to hold the classes in the afternoon
so that the children and their teachers could also attend the morning
services. A new class was started on the Rectory Farm Estate for the
"younger children of the outlying
portions of the parish", with nearly forty children "on
There were many changes to timings, groupings and venues over the
succeeding years but during the mid-1980s the needs of young people
within the parish were considered in great depth. As a result, in
1988, the Sunday School was renamed 'The Jays' - J for Jesus and J
for St. James "as a place of worship,
of joy, of fun - a place where children want to be. A place of welcome;
a place to discover the joy and good news of Christianity and its
power to change people's lives." The Jays met from 09.15
to 10.05 in Wayside and later in the new Church Hall, and were organised
into three age-based classes. The group for eleven to fourteen year
olds eventually became called St. James’s Young Church, and
met at 09.30 for talks, discussions, quizzes and plays.
Around 2000 Sunday School started at
09.30 in the church itself. During the last verse of the first hymn
one of the children went up to the altar to receive a cross from one
of the clergy. This was then taken into the hall by all the children
who then had their usual meeting. The children brought their pocket
money for the collection they had which was in aid of the Church of
England Children's Society. At the end of the meeting, at around 10.15,
they returned to church and one of them returned the cross to the
altar along with the offertory. They joined with the rest of the congregation
in receiving a blessing or communion and singing the last hymn. This
way children were included in the church service itself and felt part
of it even though they spent most of the time in the hall.
They sometimes had sleepovers in the church hall or sold breakfasts
to the congregation to raise money for charity. During the summer
2011, the Sunday School's name was changed to 'The Shell Seekers'.
"The name was inspired
by the shell that represents our church's patron saint, St. James,
and the fact that we are all seeking to further our knowledge of God
and his love for us."
For a more detailed account, read the page The
History of St. James's Sunday School.
The Historical Background to St. James's
The oldest Church youth organisation in the
village was the Church Lads’ Brigade, which started in 1892
and trained youths in “health,
citizenship and the principles of the Church of England”.
A Band of Hope was started in 1893 with an inital attendance of about
a hundred. Other groups formed in the 1890s
included a Lads Institute providing recreation and games for boys
over fourteen. A Young Peoples' Social
Guild was formed to bring together young communicants or aspiring
communicants for lectures and talks. A Girls’ Friendly Society
was started and became very popular with weekly handicraft meetings.
By the 1920s more general clubs were inaugurated to take in
all sections of the village youth, including a Lads’ Club and
in 1929 a Girls’ Club, but these went out of existence before
the Second World War.
Young people meeting in
Windmill Road in 1908
St. James’s Youth Club began between the two World Wars and
met in Windmill Road School for games, indoor sports and dancing.
It was superceded in 1951 by a Youth Fellowship, more closely attached
to the church. This was aimed at those between the ages of 15 and
25, and its programme included visiting speakers, practical topics,
Bible study and open meetings. The Youth Club restarted in 1960 with
social evenings on Fridays and discussions on a variety of topics
In the mid-1980s a Youth Fellowship called 'The
Rebels', crossing parish boundaries, was opened for young people aged
ten to fourteen. Some time was committed to some form of Bible study
and there was also snooker, table tennis and other games. Another
new group, for youngsters between thirteen and eighteen, started up
in 1993 and the Youth Club was re-launched in 1995 on Sunday evenings
with regular Christian discussions, talks and activities.
For a more detailed account, read the page
The History of St. James's