The administrative committee of an Anglican
parish church was called a Vestry from the 16th until the 20th century,
when it became the Parochial Church Council. Because the parishioners
originally met in the church vestry to transact the business of the
parish, the word Vestry came to be applied both to the body of parishioners
and to their meetings. Both the secular and spiritual affairs of New
Hampton, as the new parish was then known, were originally overseen
by the Hampton Vestry. However, a new Vestry, separate from that at
Hampton, was established in New Hampton in 1863. An Annual Vestry
Meeting, which was the equivalent of today's Annual Parochial Church
Meeting, took place every Easter. It was convened for the reading
of reports, passing of the year's accounts, and the election of two
churchwardens (the vicar's and the people's) and other church officers.
Read the articles Easter
Vestry and The Annual
After the 1st World War, an Enabling Bill, passed by a 300 majority
in the House of Commons, gave the Church powers of self-government.
Consequently in 1920 a meeting of the Church Electors (those on the
electoral roll) took place to elect members to form a Parochial Church
Council and also three members of the Ruridecanal Conference (a meeting
of clergy and lay people under the chairmanship of their rural dean
to consider a wide range of church matters). The first meeting was
held on Tuesday, June 22nd, and during this and the following meeting
the PCC. formed a finance committee and also provided the sidesmen.
Read the articles The Parochial
Church Meeting and Easter Vestry and Meetings.
It was proposed that an inventory of church
property should be made (shown left) and periodic inspections of it
held. Financial statements were made about the church offertories
for church expenses, and the Curate, Free-will Offerings and Parish
Magazine funds. The vicar called the attention of the council to the
approaching jumble sale and sale of work for missions, and asked the
members for their full support. A sub-committee was chosen to make
enquiries respecting the possibility of erecting a much needed parish
room. The vicar was asked to make enquiries about a ‘Bier’
for use at funerals. Read the article
The Formation of the First PCC.
At a PCC meeting in 1924 three committees
were elected for special pieces of parochial work. A Structural Committee
was chosen to look after the fabric of the church, taking the church
room under its wing as well; a Missionary Committee was appointed
to create and further interest in the Mission Work of the church at
home and abroad; and a Churchyard Committee was formed for the purpose
of stirring up practical interest in the work of getting the churchyard
into order and removing any cause for complaint about its untidy state.
The Commission on Worship prepared in 1955
Throughout Revd Brunt's incumbency the committees of the Church Council
underwent much change. The year following his appointment in 1951
a Special Purposes Committee was appointed by the PCC,
the main work of which was to deal with the important matter of the
repairs and renovation of the church fabric, and the raising of the
large sums of money that would be required. During 1953 much thought
was put into ways and means of improving the effectiveness of the
church council and its committees, of having a church representative
in every street in the parish, of seeing that all sick and lonely
people who desired it were visited regularly, and so on. In 1955 there
was a report on the “commissions
of enquiry into various aspects of parochial life”. The
Commission on Worship is shown on the left, the Commission on Education
was largely exploratory and the Commission on the Wider Church concerned
itself with the formation of a Parish Voluntary Service and a Church
During these years committees included the Standing Committee, the
Finance Committee, the Properties Committee, the Renovation Committee,
the Missionary and Evangelistic Committee, the Magazine Committee,
the Social Committee (to include representatives from church organisations),
the Catering Committee (all the ladies of the PCC).
Building Committee, Stewardship Scheme Continuation Committee, Centenary
Committee and Commission on Worship. The Wayside Committee was incorporated
into the Properties Committee, which then dealt with all bookings
and meetings and general administration. May 1957 saw an experiment
combining the committees into one Standing and General Purposes Committee
to deal with all major concerns, and plan general policy and concrete
proposals for submission to the whole Council. A Planning and Policy
Committee was set up in 1958 to decide and define priorities and objectives
in all the closely inter-related spheres of the Church's life and
work, and then to fashion a purposive strategy. Parish Meetings were
started in December 1957 and were open to all
in the parish who wished to come to hear and talk about things that
The Properties Committee came into being following the Wells Stewardship
campaign circa 1960/61. Although this had been primarily aimed at
achieving an increased and predictable income, the giving of 'time
and talents' was quickly recognised as an alternative and/or parallel
form of stewardship. Tackling a neglected churchyard and a backlog
of repairs and dilapidations to the buildings was an obvious outlet
for those with the necessary aptitudes and energy, and a group soon
came together. An early guiding principle was to avoid, as far as
possible, the use of any paid labour, keeping building maintenance
costs to a minimum. This remains as an underlying philosophy.
Up until the 1960s committees reporting to the PCC
had been drawn fully from PCC members.
This had resulted in both a rather large PCC
and too little 'spread' on the committees. In 1965 it was decided
to reduce the number of PCC. members
from the following year. The June 1965 Spire reported: "Every
year, at the first meeting of the newly-elected Church Council, we
consider carefully the lines on which we hope to work for the ensuing
twelve months. We got down to all this at our meeting in May. We felt
that a number of committees was again necessary, but we did not just
slavishly follow last year's pattern: we enlarged some, abolished
others, and set up two new ones. We agreed that this year the Council
as a whole should be the decision-making body on all matters of importance.
The committees would go into these matters beforehand whenever possible,
and then make recommendations to the Council about them. In the past
it has often been not so much a matter of making recommendatiom as
reporting decisions already taken, and the Council has been in danger
of becoming a body whose main function was to put the rubber-stamp
of approval in retrospect on actions already carried out. Under the
new system every member of the Council will feel much more fully involved
and responsible." By 1966 the Annual Parochial Church
Council meeting was followed by a Parochial Church Council meeting.
The Church of England introduced the House of Laymen which gave St
James’s the opportunity to elect four members to the Ruridecanal
Conference (a meeting of clergy and lay people under the chairmanship
of their rural dean to consider a wide range of church matters). From
this time, lay members began taking on a more definite role in church
affairs. Read the article
The House of Laymen.
The Annual Church Meeting in 1970 was the first to be held under the
new rules and regulations for Synodical Government in the Church of
England. The February 1970 Spire reported: "For
the new system to succeed, everyone has to do their part - it is no
longer a question of leaving all the important matters to the 'high-ups'
at the centre, but of 'going along the way together' (the literal
meaning of synod) so that we here at the local level will have a real
share in the decision-making of the whole Church." The
Meeting of Parishioners for the Election of Churchwardens and the
Annual Parochial Church Meeting still have to be held by April 30th
each year and are generally reported on in the Magazine. Read the
articles Report on the Meeting
of the PCC, The Annual Parochial
Church Meeting and We are
at your Service.
The Meeting of Parishioners for the Election of Churchwardens and
the Annual Parochial Church Meeting still have to be held by April
30th each year and are generally reported on in the Spire Magazine.
The office of churchwarden is a very ancient office going back to
the 13th Century. The primary function of the office at that time
was taking care of the church building and its contents on behalf
of the parishioners. As time went on other duties were added, and
churchwardens became the local officers of the Bishop of the diocese,
responsible to him for the proper carrying out of their responsibilities.
Churchwardens must be elected and re-elected by the parish at the
Annual Meeting of Parishioners and are formally admitted to the office
by the Archdeacon at a special Diocesan service.
Historically we had two very long-standing churchwardens - Len Rockliffe
and Bill Robinson (shown right with Revd Brunt) - who retired in the
early 1980s. It was then proposed that in future churchwardens should
serve for a five-year term, giving the parish not only a range of
skills, but also a body of parishioners who even after their term
of office have a useful familiarity with the detail of parish administration.
The first churchwarden to serve in this way was Ron Bridges, taking
over from Len Rockliffe, and the following year Eila Severn took over
from Bill Robinson. Since then most churchwardens have served for
either five or three years, trying to ensure that both churchwardens
don’t retire at the same time.
St James’s Church has an established tradition for the election
of the two churchwardens.
above information covers the period from when any records could be
found until November 2016. This was when Revd Derek Winterburn became
St James's tenth vicar and from this time onwards any new information
can be found on the main site's page Church
life through the years: PCC.