The Church of St James was dedicated on 6th August 1878. It was built as a proprietary chapel by the Cornish-Bowden family, whose descendants still own the church. It is now one of only a handful of proprietary chapels remaining in England.
Avonwick was known as Newhouse until 1870, by which time the hamlet with a few houses and a coaching inn was beginning to grow into the village that exists today. For a few years before the church was built, about 100 parishioners who did not want to make the journey to the main parish church in North Huish were able to join services at the tennis club.
It was clear that there was significant demand for a new church, so Mr and Mrs Cornish-Bowden commissioned the building of the church to serve the village. Messers Mills and Sons of Newton Abbot built the church to designs by Rev. Medley Fulford, and the woodwork was made by Harry Ems of Exeter.
The organ was installed in 1881 in time for St James's Day.
St James the Great was an apostle and was one of the closest confidants of Jesus. He was called by Jesus from his fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. James was with Jesus during the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was the first of the Twelve Apostles to suffer martyrdom, being beheaded on the orders of Herod Agrippina in AD 44.
Spanish tradition relates that he is buried in Santiago de Compostela, and he was one of the most popular saints in Spain during the Middle Ages.
The Feast Day of St James is observed on the Sunday closest to 25th July.