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Church of St James

A Grade II Listed Building in Eastbury, West Berkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4927 / 51°29'33"N

Longitude: -1.5028 / 1°30'10"W

OS Eastings: 434614

OS Northings: 177195

OS Grid: SU346771

Mapcode National: GBR 6Z7.BW8

Mapcode Global: VHC1D.WRW3

Entry Name: Church of St James

Listing Date: 6 February 1962

Last Amended: 30 November 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1321845

English Heritage Legacy ID: 39356

Location: Lambourn, West Berkshire, RG17

County: West Berkshire

Civil Parish: Lambourn

Built-Up Area: Eastbury

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Eastbury

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Summary

The Church of St James, Eastbury, of 1851-3, by GE Street with mid-C19 intact fixtures and fittings and late-C19 stained glass windows designed by Ward and Hughes; and Lavers, Barraud and Westlake. The south aisle of the nave includes a C20 engraved glass window by Laurence Whistler dedicated to the First World War poet Edward Thomas and his wife Helen who lived in Eastbury.

Description

Church of St James, Eastbury, 1851-53, by GE Street, commissioned by Robert Milman, Vicar of Lambourn.

MATERIALS: the building is of knapped flint with Bath stone dressings including string courses, quoins and jambs. The large catslide roof with sweeping eaves is tiled. A small extension at the W end is constructed of brick.

PLAN: the building has a simple plan-form comprising a three-bay nave with north aisle, an east end chancel and a small vestry.

EXTERIOR: the building has a vernacular style with a catslide roof and sweeping eaves over the church, its nave and N aisle. There are a series of large, stepped stone buttresses on the N, S, E and W elevations and its access is by a single arched doorway with dressed stone jambs at the NW end. A stone, double-gabled bellcote rises above the junction of the nave and chancel and a stone cross adorns the gable head at the E end. The fenestration is varied in size and style on all elevations of the nave, N aisle and chancel with simplified tracery, arches and multiple foils containing intact late-C19 stained glass. The tracery design is thought to be influenced by Street's architectural tours of France and Germany. The church has nine windows in total including the large impressive E window formed of five-lights with three sexfoils in circles at the head and stained glass figures designed by Ward and Hughes in 1884. A smaller version is on the E elevation of the vestry. The S elevation has three arched windows including a mid-C19 cusped Y-traceried window with subsidiary tracery in the chancel containing stained glass designed by Ward and Hughes in 1883, a mid-C19 four-light window with tracery between the trefoils at the head in the form of a cross with stained glass by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake of 1889 and a commemorative C20 engraved window in the nave (as described below). A tall lancet window with trefoil and stained glass designed by Ward and Hughes in 1881, as a memorial to Robert Milman, is inset into the western wall of the nave and the aisle has a circular quatrefoil stained glass window to the W which is in the style of Lavers, Barraud and Westlake. The north aisle has two narrow lancets. At the time of inspection there was a small red brick WC extension and basement plant room at the W gable end of the nave.

INTERIOR: the church has a well-preserved interior comprising a central nave with arched braced, timber-boarded roof and intact original elm pews with carved elbow profile bench-ends and an open-back. There are three rows of approximately ten pews with some re-organising and removal of pews to the SW of the nave. The floor covering of the nave is of plain red square quarry tiles under the pews with a blue carpet floor covering in the central walkway. The octagonal stone font by Street is positioned towards the NW of the nave and stands upon a four-columned base with keeled moulding. The chancel to the E is accessed through a broad, plainly moulded arch with no capitals and there are intact original low stone cancelli screens by Street on either side of the central aisle, with quatrefoil decoration. A mid-C19 carved wooden lectern has a wedge-shape with quatrefoil decoration and carved stem stands facing the nave, in front of the southern screen. A timber-panelled raised pulpit on a circular stone base with stepped access stands in front of the northern screen, between the junction of the nave and N aisle. The chancel floor is decorated in black, buff and red tiles in a diamond lattice pattern with a further elaborative design of encaustic tiles in the sanctuary. The chancel roof is arched, constructed with pairs of rafters. The chancel furniture comprises two single rows of choir stalls, probably pine, with carved detailing and wooden reading desks. A small vestry is accessible to the N of the chancel through a narrow arched door-way. The sanctuary is stepped with a single intact timber altar rail with straight brace posts. Two wooden original candle-holders at either side of the intact high altar, are probably of mid-C19 and have circular holders and a leaf-shaped decoration. Behind the altar, is a C20 reredos constructed of diagonal timber boarding with a triangular centrepiece and inset crucifix. Adjacent to the altar, set into the south wall is a piscina and sedilia, unusually of two seats and not three. The broad-arched, late-C19 stained glass E window with geometrical tracery of five lights with three sexfoiled circles, and other figures, in the head provides the majority of light to the interior and is intact. A large engraved glass window, of 1971, by Sir Alan Charles Laurence Whistler (1912-2000) in the S aisle, opposite the church entrance, was commissioned by Myfanwy Thomas (1910-2005), the daughter of the First World War poet Philip Edward Thomas (1878-1917) "in celebration of the lives of Edward Thomas poet and Helen his wife". His widow lived in the village of Eastbury at Bridge Cottage from 1954 until her death in 1967. The clear-glass arched window has a quatrefoil design of three full-lights and two half-lights in the head, engraved with a symbolic landscape scene which is adorned with a selection of engraved verses from Thomas's poems.

The N aisle comprises a low-arched arcade on plain octagonal moulded piers with square bases and moulded detailing on each quadrant similar to the elbowed profile design of the pew bench-ends. There is a lean-to roof with open rafters above the aisle and the floor of the aisle is decorated with the same plain red square quarry tiles which feature in the nave, covered with blue carpet in the walkway. The plain painted walls have stone plaques attached. A large wooden church organ is inset into the fabric to the E in front of the vestry and an intact timber alms box stands on an octagonal timber and stone pillar base to the E of the arched door-way entrance.

History

The Church of St James at Eastbury, of 1851-53 by the architect George Edmund Street was commissioned by Robert Milman, Vicar of Lambourn together with the late C19 village school and master's house (Barrow Deep The Old School, Grade II). The church, which he privately funded together with a £1000 public subscription, was consecrated on 9 April 1853. It is the third new church that Street had designed and built nationally and his first newly built in the Diocese of Oxfordshire. It was built on the site of a former medieval chapel of ease which was in ruin by the late C18 (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/berks/vol4/pp251-266). The Ecclesiological Society in 1851 reviews the initial proposals and notes the church has a "local vernacular style, with Continental influences evident in the design". The east window is praised and German influences in the tracery is noted (Ecclesiologist,1851,150). A later entry of the same journal reviews the church as built from working drawings. The church is described as picturesque but the position of the bell-cote and style of tracery is criticised. The church is also thought to be too dark (Ecclesiologist, 1853, 136-137). Pevsner later describes the church as "plain but highly inventive and clearly inspired by the magnificent barns of north and west Berkshire" (Pevsner, 2010, 278).

George Edmund Street (1824-1881), born at Woodford, Essex became one of the most respected architects of his generation. He was educated in Mitcham in the London Borough of Merton and at Camberwell Collegiate School. Originally training as a solicitor in London, he returned to live with his mother and sister in Devon after his father died in May 1841. He then obtained a place as a pupil at the practice of Owen Browne Carter at Winchester during 1841 to 1844 and became an architectural assistant. This led to his next appointment as an 'improver' with the architect George Gilbert-Scott at his practice in London until 1849. It was during this period that Street was commissioned in 1847 to design the Church of St Mary at Par, St Blazey Gate, Biscovey in Cornwall (Grade II*). The church was built in 1848 and is considered to be a very early and significant design, epitomising the simplicity of which characterised the early Ecclesiological movement (Pevsner, N, 1990, 131 & 170). Street joined the Ecclesiological Society in 1845, to which he contributed papers on his many visits to the continent between 1848 and 1863. The second new church to be designed by Street and built prior to the Church of St James in Eastbury was the Church of St Peter, Treverbyn, Cornwall, of 1848-50 (Grade II).

Street decided to practice independently in 1849, following further commissions and was appointed as architect to the Oxford Diocesan Church Building Society in November 1850. He married his first wife, Mariquita Proctor, in Oxford during 1852 and appointed an architectural assistant, Edmund Sedding the same year, followed by Philip Webb in 1854. He moved back to London in 1855 and published successfully on his Gothic architectural tours of Europe. His commissions were mostly ecclesiastical and collegiate buildings, some as far afield as Constantinople, Paris, Vevey, Lausanne, Genoa and Rome. As a Diocesan architect, he contributed to the cathedrals of Oxford, York, Winchester and Ripon. He also worked on the restoration of Bristol cathedral and York Minster and was actively involved in designing new, and repairing existing, churches and school buildings within the home counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He was appointed sole architect for the London Law Courts (Royal Courts of Justice) in the Strand in 1868 and elected as a fellow of the Royal Academy in 1871, becoming the Academy's Professor of Architecture in 1880. He was a Royal Gold Medallist amongst other honours and became President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1881.

An extension and alterations which included a modern heating system, a water supply, WC facilities and a kitchen area to the west of the nave were completed on 29 November 2015.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St James, Eastbury of 1851-53 by GE Street, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural and design interest: as an early example of the architecture of the Ecclesiology movement by a renowned architect distinctive for its quality of design, materials and detailing;
* Interior: for its well-preserved and good interior fixtures and fittings and internal decorative elements designed by Street. The late-C19 stained-glass by Ward and Hughes, Lavers, Barraud and Westlake and the C20 engraved memorial window to the First World War poet Edward Thomas and his wife Helen add to its interest;
* Historic interest: as the first newly built mid-C19 church in the Diocese of Oxfordshire by Street commissioned by Robert Milman, Vicar of Lambourn who became Bishop of Calcutta in 1867, located on the site of a ruined medieval chapel of ease;
* Group value: for its group value with other listed buildings in the village including Barrow Deep, The Old School by Street, Fairchilds Cottage, Cross House and East View, all listed at Grade II, and the village cross listed at Grade II*.

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