Bound to the medieval land of Baião and its masters from early on, both at the ecclesiastical and the secular level, Valadares reveals in its toponym the importance of geography in the humanization of the territory: a mild valley which allowed the creation of living and vicinity at 500 metres of altitude.
In this aspect, the actual deployment of the Church itself reveals the intrinsic connection of the parochialization with the advanced plotting.
The “Inquirições” [administrative enquiries] of 1258 document the control of the Church by a group of eight individuals certainly linked among themselves by kin ties or marriage bonds. And when asked whether the king had rights over the said Church, the parish priest, Pedro Soares, said not knowing.
Therefore, far from the arm of the monarch, manorial domain remained here until quite late, despite the fact that this patron saint has been associated with the tradition of being a passing place.
In the Catalogue of the Bishops of Porto, of 1623, states that the Church possessed the Blessed Sacrament (its isolation so required) and was a profitable abbey by 300,000 réis [former Portuguese currency unit].
In 1706 the abbey's income was of 450,000 réis [former Portuguese currency unit] and its parishioners were distributed by 120 dwellings. The author of this information, Father António da Costa Carvalho, further informs us that Valadares was part of the heritage of the Houses of Baião and Marquises of Arronches - information which, moreover, aligns with the answers of abbot Ricardo Feliz Barroso Pereira, in 1758.
Even with the profound changes of the 19th century, Valadares no longer gravitated around Baião, carrying on as a parish of its own.
The Church of Saint James of Valadares has suffered deep changes throughout its existence, and today, it embodies the medieval language of outwardly smooth vestments with a Baroque grammar, which, inside, leaves its mark on the entire space.
The medieval space was lined with altarpieces in polychrome and gilt wood. The taste for the Baroque filled the small Church with brightness and colour, highlighting the quality of the side and main altarpieces and the cruise arch. The latter receives, in a painting, the patron saint of the Church, flanked by two Dominican saints: Saint Gonzalo and Saint Vicent Ferrer.
The interior of this Church dedicated to Saint James, the Greater, is, therefore, a good testimony of how easily a Romanesque Church modernizes its aesthetics, adapting it to new tastes and the different liturgies.
Although hidden by the modern mobile setting, fine examples of frescoes, from the late 15th century, may be appreciated: on the back wall of the nave, the mural composition would create a fake altarpiece composed of four separate panels with depictions of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Pietá, Saint James and Saint Barbara; and on the side walls, what would likely be Saint Paul and a scene that we can guess is the representation of Hell on which stands a set of fantastic creatures, of a frankly popular taste: a cynocephalus devil and a tow-faced figure with two horns, a strange black bird with the head of a rooster and the beak of a goose.