The Baptistry
 
Inside the Church
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Baptistry | Bell Tower | Chancel | Church Plate | Church Textiles | Nave | North & South Aisles | Organ | Sanctuary | South Porch | Vestry | West Porch

The baptistry surrounds the baptismal font and is at the back of the church, near the original entrance in the south porch. On arriving in the church people had to pass the place of baptism where their journey with Christ as members of his Church began.

The baptistry is at the bottom of the bell tower with the entrance to the bell tower in the far corner.

Baptism is the religious rite which welcomes someone, as a member, into the Christian Church. It is the sign that someone belongs to Christ and that is why baptism is also known as christening. See our page Baptism.


Model of the church
Wooden portable font
 
Corbel

Model of the church
made by EE Bryant, October 1937,
kept in the baptistry

When a baptism takes place in the nave, a smaller, wooden font is used at the front of the church
 
Corbel at the entrance
to the baptistry (a corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry a heavy weight)

The Baptismal Font

The Font
The word font comes from the word fontare meaning fountain. A font is a bowl for water.

The font in St James's is a large octagonal (eight-sided) bowl-shaped stone which holds the water used in baptism. This water has been sanctified (made holy) by the priest. The font has a wooden cover (see right).
The font's wooden cover

The eight stone carved panels around the font are beautifully carved each with a different symbol design.

Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
Alpha and Omega

IHC - Jesus Christ

XP - Christ
The Star of David
       
Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
Stone carved panel around the Font
A Winged Man
A Winged Lion
A Winged Ox
An Eagle
       

Four of the panels showthe following symbols:
A and O - Alpha and Omega which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, meaning the beginning and the end
IHS or IHC - the first three letters of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC)
XP - the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ (XPICTOC)
The Star of David or A Double Trinity Star showing that God is triune (three-in-one) - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

The other four symbols became associated with the four Gospel Writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of the symbols is shown with wings.
The Man represents the Gospel of St Matthew.
The Lion represents the Gospel of St Mark.
The Ox or Calf, the sacrificial victim, represents the Gospel of St Luke.
The Eagle stands for the Gospel of St John.

These symbols were developed as a way of helping people to remember the different Gospels at a time when most people could not read.


The Baptistry Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass has been used to add beauty and colour to our church. Many of our windows show biblical scenes, and these helped to teach the people about religion in the days when most of them could not read.

The separate pieces of glass each have their own colour and are set into strips of lead. The colours in early stained glass were each thought to have a meaning; for instance, red meant divine love, white - divine wisdom, yellow - faith, and so on.

See our Baptistry Stained Glass Windows images page.

The Baptistry Stained Glass Windows

St James's Church Quizzes

• Print out and fill in our St James's Baptistry Quiz

Further Information

More detailed information can be found in the main site on the page Inside the church.


The Parish Church of St James, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ
Main site: stjames-hamptonhill.org.uk