The vicarage was the third architectural element in a classic Victorian troika of church, school and vicarage, which form the heart of this part of Bartonsham. It stands on land once part of the Bartonsham prebend held by the Cathedral, close to the old hospital. The hospital served the community until the late 1700s when it became first a lunatic asylum and later Herefordshire’s General Hospital, where the the vicar of St. James was also chaplain.
The surrounding parish of St. James, meanwhile, was formally constituted on December 7, 1869. The new church was consecrated in May 1869 while construction of the vicarage, funded by a mortgage on glebe land, started a year later.
The first rector, Reverend Joseph Sutcliffe Partridge, waited in vain for its completion. He died in 1871 at his lodgings in Burghill Villas, St Owens Street and it was left to his successor, the Rev. Richard Powell, to source a £210 loan from the Queen Anne’s Bounty to complete the building in 1872.
The long-serving clergyman, Revered Frederick John Landsell secured another loan for the Vicarage from the Bounty in October 1929 for an extension (located where the current lift stands).
The old Vicarage in Vicarage Rd, St James was vacated by clergy when a new Vicarage was built on church land in Green Street. The building was taken over by the Womens Royal Voluntary Service (now the RVS) and in 2005 it was converted into a £1m community centre. The various community services included a day centre, playschool, meals on wheels and café.
These services from the RVS building have been gradually run down from around 2010. The building is currently empty and its future is uncertain.
St James School
This was founded on June 11 1896 by Rev Henry Askwith along with vicars from six other parishes including St Peters and St Martins. The current incumbent at St James still sits on the school board of governors.
The Women’s Royal Voluntary Service
The vicarage was sold at auction in October 1963 by auctioneers Sidney Phillips and Son and C. L. Marriott to the then Women’s Voluntary Service for £5,100. The WVS used it as a base for a Meals-on-Wheels service, a residential club, clothing store and for the local scout troop.
The centre was modernised and became a flagship learning centre (one of the first of its kind in the country) with its day centre, community café and fully equipped computer rooms. The Fourways Nursery was also housed in the same building.
Old Link to Royal Voluntary Service Hereford Community centre. Now out of date.
Memories of the Parish Hall on Eign Road - a thriving hub
The St James Parish Hall was, controversially, sold for development by the Church in the early 1990s. Looking back, the Hall had played a key role in the local community.
From puppy training to jumble sales, St James’ Parish Hall on Eign Road was once a thriving hubbub of activities, recalls Faith Ford. “Our elder daughter attended a fantastic nursery/playgroup run by Mrs Stafford there in the mid 1970s and later another good playschool, Rainbows, was run from there.
“Refurbished in the 1980s, the Hall was home to junior and senior youth clubs with activities like table tennis, iceskating trips, and holiday clubs run by Rev George Fleming - cheap to attend, with fancy dress competitions and trips included!
Faith Ford recalls: “Both school and church hosted social events there with pantos and shows while Mrs Charles from Park Street ran ballet classes. I recall Park Street’s Margaret Butcher, in the role of Maria, singing with children to a Sound of Music song while George Fleming did a comedy drag act in the same show! “