The ruins of St. James's church, Bix Bottom
14 November 2022 (Updated 22 November 2022)
Standing in an isolated valley a mile north of the village of Bix, the ruins of the old St. James's church are all that remains of the vanished village of Bix Brand.
Although originally dating back to the early 12th Century, the church became unstable and had to be repaired during the 18th century, before falling into further disrepair the following century. The church was eventually abandoned in 1875, around the time that most of the nearby villagers left the area for nearby Bix Gibwyn.
The church has now been unused for over 150 years, and makes for an atmospheric ruin. This article by E.A. Greening Lamborn (pdf) contains photographs of the church in a considerably more intact state in 1875, as well as another showing how badly it had fallen into ruin just 30 years later.
Paganism, witchcraft, lay lines and UFOs at Bix Old Church
According to Roger Long in his book Curious Oxford, interest in the ruined church spiked in 1925 when notable figures in the worlds of witchcraft and modern paganism began to take interest in it, and it became something of a site of pilgrimage. Some claimed that the site stood on a lay line that ran between West Wycombe, an earthwork at Chesham and Berkhamstead castle.
Long also mentions reports that the ruin is also a focal point for UFO activity!
Blood on Satan's Claw and The Witches at Bix Church
Fans of British horror movies might recognise the ruins of Bix church as it was used as a filming location for two classic films in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The first was the 1966 Hammer Horror film The Witches where an abandoned church is the scene of a black magic ritual involving human sacrifice. The ruins appear in the trailer at around the 1: 25 minute mark, and perhaps in the climactic ritual scene, although it is unclear from the trailer whether the latter scene was filmed on location or on a sound stage.
The second and better know movie to be filmed at Bix church ruins is 1971s The Blood on Satan's Claw. This influential folk horror classic about a 17th century village slowly being converted into a devil-worshipping cult features a number of memorable scenes filmed at the ruins, such as this scene in which an innocent game of blindman's buff ends in murder amid the ruins!
- 'Curious Oxfordshire' by Roger Long (2008, The History Press, ISBN: 9780750949576)
- Bix Brand Old Church (www.uksouthwest.net)
- The Witches (1966 - Wikipedia)
- The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971 - wikipedia)
- 'The Churches of Bix' by E.A. Greening Lamborn (pdf)