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Church of St James, Gatley

Description: Church of St James

Grade: II
Date Listed: 29 June 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1399718

OS Grid Reference: SJ8432288275
OS Grid Coordinates: 384323, 388274
Latitude/Longitude: 53.3911, -2.2372

Locality: Gatley
County: Stockport
Country: England
Postcode: SK8 4LZ

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Listing Text


St James's Church, Gatley, is an Anglican church of 1880-1 by James Medland Taylor and Henry Taylor, with a choir vestry of 1904-5.

Reason for Listing

St James's Church, Gatley, an Anglican church of 1880-1 by James Medland and Henry Taylor, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as an imaginative eclectic Gothic design incorporating a Germanic tower with saddleback roof and external staircase, an elongated polygonal bapistry and a highly individual double-canted chancel
* Architect: designed by brothers James Medland and Henry Taylor, a successful Manchester architects' practice, whose churches display a maverick originality in their use of the Gothic idiom, an attention to detail, and quality of craftsmanship, which has resulted in many being listed with St Anne's, Denton, and St Edmund's, Rochdale, designated at Grade I
* Interior: integrated massing suited to the liturgical requirements of modern worship with un-aisled nave with clear view of the chancel and also the font in the west baptistry, the internal space unified by polychrome brickwork to arch voussoirs, cream banding to the walls, and fine timber and plastered roofs to both nave and chancel
* Decorative embellishment: good-quality craftsmanship is displayed in features such as the stained glass east windows, sanctuary mosaic, circular stone font, carved Gothic choir stalls, and timber doors and screens


Until 1875 Gatley had neither church nor church school. In that year a school was built by subscription and subsequently it was proposed to build a church of about 250 free and unappropriated sittings at an estimated cost of £1,800. St James's Church was built in 1880-1 to designs by brothers Medland and Henry Taylor, who had an architects' practice in Manchester. They specialised in church architecture and have a number of listed churches to their name including St Anne's Church, Denton, and St Edmund's Church, Rochdale, both Grade I. The Church of St Agnes, Longsight, Manchester, built in 1884-5 has many design similarities with St James's Church; it was listed Grade II in 1994. In 1904-5 a choir vestry was added to St James's on the north side of the chancel.

The church used chairs until c 1888, after which the present oak pews were progressively installed. A carved stone font was bought with 3,000 pennies collected by the children in 1880-1. The original pierced stone pulpit was replaced by the present wooden pulpit of 1964, and in 1971 a new organ which was installed at the west end of the nave, replacing that in the chancel organ loft.


The church is built of speckled, hand-made bricks in English garden wall bond, with red brick dressings and a steeply pitched grey slate roof with green slate pattern. It is built in an eclectic Gothic style. The unaisled, buttressed nave has a square south-west tower incorporating a porch and a polygonal apsidal baptistry at the west end, and the canted chancel is flanked by a south vestry and the slightly later choir vestry on the north side. Windows are in the main pointed-arch lancets. The full-height apsidal baptistry has tall pointed-arch lancet windows with a band of inscribed encaustic tiles beneath. The three-stage tower has a steep saddleback roof with small gabled timber dormer and raised diaper brickwork to the gable apexes. The belfry stage has paired, louvred lancets, with narrow lancets at second stage, a pointed-arch porch doorway in the west wall, lancet window in the south wall, and raised tower doorway in the east wall reached by external steps. The vestry has a pointed-arch doorway to the left of the south gable with a large, centrally-placed circular window above. The chancel has two canted walls, each with a tripartite window. The choir vestry is built of the same materials and style. It too has a large circular window in the north gable, with an external doorway in the west side wall.

The interior has a deeply arch-braced kingpost roof with wind-braced purlins and common rafters with collars. The flooring is wooden parquet and tiles, with encaustic inscriptions in the chancel, and mosaic in the sanctuary. The walls have dado bands of cream brick and polychrome voussoirs to door and window arches and the chancel arch. The sanctuary walls have decorative oak panelling and reredos presented in memory of John Bruster, vicar from 1888 to 1928, and two blind arches, that to the north wall containing a piscina. The south chancel wall has an archway containing the original organ loft, with a lower pierced timber screen separating the chancel from the vestry. The baptistry has an encaustic tile inscription beneath the windows; it contains a circular stone font. The nave has open-backed oak pews with angled struts, with more ornate choir stalls in the chancel, and 1960s stalls, pulpit and lectern by the chancel arch. The porch has inner double doors with glazed quatrefoils to the upper half, and the vestry doors have rows of trefoil upper lights, with pierced timber over-screens with trefoil lights. There are several good-quality stained glass windows, which include the east windows dated 1883, which show the life of Christ, two two-light windows in the north wall of the nave showing Christ calling James and his brother John, one dated 1882, the other from the 1930s. Other windows have plain leaded lights with narrow yellow border bands. The original vestry has a brick pointed-arch fireplace, now blocked, and the choir vestry incorporates an original external buttress. It has a modern suspended ceiling of a temporary nature, originally being open to the roof. The main alteration to the building is the insertion of an organ loft at the west end of the nave in 1971 which cuts across the baptistry windows

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.