John E. Vigars Kent Church Photographs
Image Source: Rob Baker
Built to a design by Ewan Christian between 1860-63, St. James' was built a short distance away from the town centre in a suburb then known as Calverley Plain. The total cost of the build came to £6,000 with the spire amounting to £800. St. James' was built during a time of "Evangelical Awakening" and has always maintained a "Low Church" tradition. Christian's design was in the Gothic Revival style, with 13th century architectural designs throughout the building. The original design featured a large nave and apsed chancel, with a south aisle and small chapel. The church is entered through the south door of the tower which is situated at the south west corner. In 1880 the north aisle and organ chamber were added together with a north east vestry and an upper gallery along the west wall of the nave and north aisle. The lych gate dates from 1891 and was designed by C.M. Oldrid Scott. In 1983 a new Parish Hall was built alongside the north aisle, providing the church with extra meeting rooms and office facilities. The interior has retained its original benches. The red and blue coloured roofs of the aisles and nave date from a 1960s restoration. The simple wooden panelling behind the altar was added in 1971. Perhaps the most unusual feature of St. James' is the font, which can be found at the west end of the church underneath the gallery. It is a replica of Bertel Thorwaldsen's 1820s design that can be found in Copenhagen Cathedral in Denmark, featuring an angel holding a large shell or clam. It was made by the stonemasons Burslem and was presented to the church in 1914. The emblem of St. James is the shell, and therefore it seems somewhat fitting. Text by Rob Baker
1851 Census Details
Seating Capacity: Not built
Morning Attendance: Not built
Afternoon Attendance: Not built
Evening Attendance: Not built
Original Build Date/Architect: Ewan Christian 1860
Restoration: J O Scott 1883
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