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Church of St James, Northampton

Description: Church of St James

Grade: II
Date Listed: 22 January 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 232208

OS Grid Reference: SP7425660680
OS Grid Coordinates: 474256, 260680
Latitude/Longitude: 52.2393, -0.9140

Location: St James Road, Northampton NN5 5LQ

Locality: Northampton
Local Authority: Northampton Borough Council
County: Northamptonshire
Country: England
Postcode: NN5 5LQ

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Listing Text

725/5/300 ST JAMES'S ROAD

1868-71 by R. Wheeler of Tonbridge. N aisle by Matthew Holding following the style of the existing building. Tower 1920 by G H Stevenson. Three W bays divided off 1981 to form a hall with ancillary facilities.

MATERIALS: Red brick with ironstone and black brick polychrome decoration and limestone dressings to the copings and sills (the black bricks are, in fact, red ones painted). Clay tile roofs with polychromatic treatment (dark and light red bands in the lower parts, a lozenge band below the apex).

PLAN: Nave, N and S aisles, semi-circular W baptistry, N porch, SE tower, chancel, N organ chamber and vestry and S (now Lady) chapel which lead off the choir.

EXTERIOR: This is a large red-brick church typical of many from the latter part of the C19 aimed at providing a substantial amount of accommodation for relatively modest expense. It has a tall six-bay, clerestoried nave with flanking lean-to aisles. The style is plain Early English with simple architectural lines which rely upon polychromy to enhance the visual effect The clerestory has three equal-height lancets in each bay (apart from the W bay which has a single light). The aisle bays are demarcated by short buttresses and there are two equal-height lancets per bay. The tower, the last part of the church to be built, has three stages (the first of these being very tall), and has set-back buttresses. The belfry lights are pairs of windows with thin Y-tracery. Above these comes a clock stage and a plain parapet behind which is a low pyramidal roof. The main roof runs over the nave and chancel at a continuous level. The clerestory is continued from the nave into the chancel. At the E end there is a window with three equal lancets and circular window above with a central circle surrounded by a ring of eight smaller ones. There are no buttresses at the E end.

INTERIOR: The interior, as may be expected from the exterior, is a voluminous space, which, despite the separating off of the three W bays to create a hall, still has the power to impress. There are six wide bays to the nave with stepped polychrome arches carried on short polished pink granite piers with heavy crocketed foliage capitals. The bases are moulded and have square brick plinths. The nave and chancel are of equal width and are demarcated by a chancel arch with a polychrome head and polished, detached responds. Two-bay arcades, again with granite piers and polychrome arcades, separate the chancel from the organ chamber (N) and S chapel. Over the nave there is a five-sided boarded roof with tie-beams and crown posts. The chancel roof has seven sides and is also boarded. In the aisles the roofs are plain lean-tos. There is a fine E window depicting the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection with Old Testament scenes below

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The nave and aisles are seated with open-back benches with shouldered ends. The stalls have poppy-headed ends. The First World War memorial rood screen has now been moved to form the separation between the church and hall. The richest item is the polygonal pulpit constructed of beige and green marbles on a limestone and brick plinth: it was incomplete when the N aisle was added in 1900 and was finished in 1914. The organ is the work of Brindley and Forster of Sheffield and was dedicated in 1913. The font bowl is square and stands on quatrefoil base and corner shafts.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: To the N but on a separate plot and in separate ownership is the school of 1866, also built in red brick with polychromy.

HISTORY: The district of St James' was carved out of the parishes of Dallington and Duston in 1866 and the church was built to serve the expanding population of this area of Northampton. Before the church was opened services were held in the church school to the N and which opened on 28 May 1866. The building of the church began in 1868 and it was consecrated by Bishop Magee of Peterborough in 1871 and cost £3,100. It was erected mainly through the efforts and generosity of the Rev. William Thornton of Kingsthorpe Hall who bought the land for the school and church. The architect is given in Pevsner and Cherry as `R. Wheeler of Tonbridge¿ about whom nothing has been discovered. It is possible this name has been confused with Robert Wheeler of Tunbridge Wells who is known to have undertaken a series of church commissions in Kent, Essex and Sussex between 1864 and 1878. As was not unusual with Victorian church-building, St James' was not built in a single campaign and the N aisle and vestries had to wait until 1900 when they were built under Matthew Henry Holding (1847-1910), a Northampton-based church architect of much ability. He was articled to the Oxford architect Charles Buckeridge and was then, for three years, in the office of John Loughborough Pearson, one of the greatest of all church architects of the second half of the C19. Much of his work shows the influence of Pearson. The tower was conceived as war memorial and was built in 1920 to the designs of George Henry Stevenson (b 1861), another Northampton architect. He had been articled to Holding from c1879 and remained with him as an assistant until 1889 when he began his own practice. The nave was subdivided in 1981.

Anon, The Parish Church of St James, Northampton, 2002.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire 1973, pp 355-6.
Michael Goode (ed), Pevsner's Buildings of England on CD-Rom, 2005.
Antonia Brodie et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 1, 2001, p 934; vol 2, 2001, pp 699-700.

The church of St James, Northampton, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is a polychromatic brick town church built on an impressive scale.
* It is a good example of how such a building could be erected with fairly modest means to provide the necessary Anglican church accommodation in England's towns and cities in the late C19.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

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