History of St James' Church
The church dates from 1869 and was proposed by Rev John Venn to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding area of the then-new housing at Bartonsham.
It was designed by Hereford architect Thomas Nicholson in the Early Geometric style and
built in Bath stone, at a cost of nearly £4000. Unusually, the church is built on a North-South orientation, with the communion table placed at the North of the church, rather than east (perhaps because of the constraints of the site). It is laid out in the traditional cruciform plan with a chancel, clerestoried nave with four bays, aisles, transepts and sacristy.
The church is named after St. James, brother of John, son of Zebedee and one of the twelve apostles. The Bible describes him as ‘put to the sword’ by Herod for his faith, an event depicted in the main window above the altar. Legend says James’ body was covered in scallop shells, carried to the shores of Galicia and buried at Santiago de Compostela in
Northern Spain, where it became a place of pilgrimage. Pilgrims to the shrine often carry a
symbolic scallop shell, also featured in the window, and used to this day as a symbol for St
James’ Church of England School.
In the early hours of Monday 23rd December 1901, a nurse on night duty at the General
Hospital noticed an unusual light flickering in the church and was so concerned that she sent a messenger to the fire station in Gaol Street. Within minutes there was a loud explosion, which ripped the church roof off leaving the building a complete ruin. It was discovered that the church was not insured. However it was totally restored within two years and was reopened in 1903.
St James School was originally sited in St Owens Place at the end of Green Street. The
school we see today in Vicarage Road was built in 1896.
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History of St James' Church brochure
We've been researching and writing a brochure about the history of the church and this is now available for download as a pdf. Printed copies are also available from the church. The text and photos will be posted to this page too shortly so it can be browsed without downloading.