St James, Parkham
The Church of St. James is set in the centre of the village. The earliest parts of the building date from Norman times, but the main body was constructed in the 15th century, with the extension of the tower, the north and south aisles, added a century or so later. The church was extensively restored in the late 1860’s, and the pews date from this time. The six bells date from the 1770s and a loyal group of bell-ringers ring most Sundays and practise on Wednesday evenings. Major work has been done on the tower in the last few years, and the building is generally in good repair. Extensive work was done on the roof in the early 1990s and kitchen facilities were added. A toilet has also been installed in the vestry.
Situated 7 miles from Bideford, Parkham is a typical rural community with sheep and cattle farmed by long-established local families. This parish is geographically quite large, stretching from Horns Cross and Alwington to the north up to the Buckland Brewer boundary to the south. Parkham is the main village, seven miles from Bideford, but the parish includes Horns Cross, far smaller, which is situated on the busy A39 road. The population of the civil parish according to the 2011 census is 800, two thirds of whom live in Parkham ecclesiastical parish. The dairy herds tend to supply Parkham Cheese factory, which produces a popular hard cheddar-style cheese and provides jobs for local families. However, the slow decline of farming, together with the problems brought by Foot and Mouth and Bovine TB in the last decade, has encouraged a partial shift away from dairy towards rare-breed beef, as well as a diversification into tourism.
Church, chapel and village hall fetes are combined, and the Beer Festival is a great chance to meet people and eat too much! The church makes a point of offering a welcome to new people, and has indeed welcomed several new families in this last year. We offer a monthly midweek communion service as well as a weekly prayer meeting.