Just outside Aylesbury is the village of Bierton with not so much a church, as a miniature cathedral.
The size of St James Church and its dedication (St James is the patron saint of pilgrims) indicates this was for many centuries a site of great pilgrimage. Just beside the church is St Osyth’s Well – a holy well that is now sadly covered over by the most horrendous concrete lid.
One can understand the need to protect children from this well (it is a well, rather than, or as well as, a spring) but this blights an otherwise picturesque village.
A booklet written in 1956 by Wilfrid Steer (The Church of St James, Bierton, by Wilfrid Steer, 1956) adds little to our knowledge. He writes: “We do not know how old it is but it is older than it looks. It is called St Osyth’s Well, but again we do not know when or why it was so called. Whether or not it is a holy well we do not know but there is no reason to suppose that it is not.”
Steer suggests it was attributed to St Osyth as her body (she was killed in Essex by invading Vikings) may have been rested here on the way to its final burial place. Also of interest at St James is a scratch dial on the wall by the south door.