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Church of St James

A Grade II* Listed Building in New Bradwell, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.0654 / 52°3'55"N

Longitude: -0.7931 / 0°47'35"W

OS Eastings: 482829

OS Northings: 241469

OS Grid: SP828414

Mapcode National: GBR CZV.J98

Mapcode Global: VHDT0.6CK0

Plus Code: 9C4X3684+5Q

Entry Name: Church of St James

Listing Date: 28 October 1976

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1125329

English Heritage Legacy ID: 45641

Location: New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, MK13

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: New Bradwell

Built-Up Area: Milton Keynes

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Stantonbury and Willen

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Tagged with: Church building

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891/3/169 ST JAMES' STREET
(East side)

1857-60 by G E Street. N aisle 1897 to Street's design.

MATERIALS: Limestone rubble and ashlar. Limestone dressings. Timber, painted bell-turret. Roof slates mostly laid with shaped slates in diagonal patterns. Red crested ridge tiles on the chancel and its S aisle.

PLAN: Base of NW tower, nave, lower chancel, N and S aisles, S porch, S chancel aisle, N vestry.

EXTERIOR: Sadly the exterior is incomplete since the projected tower only rises some 7m above the ground. It carries a `temporary', painted wooden turret of 1883. The semi-circular projection on the W face shows that Street intended a strong, muscular treatment, as applied to the rest of the building. Such qualities are to be seen in the W wall of the nave which has a powerfully designed three-light window with narrow cusped lights and a vigorous punched tracery in the head - a bold trefoil set within three tiny trefoil openings. The clerestory is in similar vein with circular quatrefoils immediately below the nave eaves. The S aisle windows are varied but continue to have strong detail. The E window has five lights and three cusped circles in the head. The aisles are under lean-to roofs whereas the S chancel aisle has its own gabled roof. The S porch is striking with a tall roof that sweeps down low, and compressed shafts carrying the outer moulded arch.

INTERIOR: The oldest feature at the church is the reused Norman arch at the W end. This comes from the ruined church of St Peter, Stantonbury, and was installed here c.1963. It has two orders of shafts with lots of beading in the varied ornament: it has birds and beasts in the capitals. In the head is an outer order of chevron and an inner one of beakhead decoration. The arcades are of four bays on the S and three bays on the N, plus an arch into the tower base. Their piers are quatrefoil with fillets between the lobes, the arches are double-chamfered without a hood while the capitals have vigorous stiff-leaf decoration. To the clerestory windows there are marble shafts and further foliage capitals. A further arcade, of two bays, is located between the chancel and its S aisle. Here the arches have large cusps which die into the responds and central pier. The latter in turn has a high base and a stubby paired marble shaft beneath a foliate capital. The chancel arch has marble shafts to the responds. Over the nave is a tie-beam roof with a crown-post to a longitudinal runner. The aisles have lean-to roofs while the chancel has a keeled one. The walls of the church are of bare stone except for the chancel and its aisle which have been whitened. The flooring is modern composition stone.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The seating, which has been reduced in extent since the C19, has shaped ends, and the stalls have been cleared from the chancel. The pulpit is circular, as often the case with Street, and has C13 arcading round it. Similarly the font, now relocated to the E end is circular with more C13 arcading. A large organ stands in the SE nave arcade arch. The N aisle has exceptional glass by Gerald Moira, probably made by Lowndes and Drury: it has vibrant colouration and a style which `points forward from the Arts and Crafts to Expressionism' [Pevsner and Williamson]. The E window is by Christopher Webb, 1950 while the W window is also modern, by Harry Stammers, 1964.

HISTORY: The existence of this church is due to the coming of the railway. In 1838 the London and Birmingham Railway Co established a works at Wolverton which built locomotives but which concentrated on carriages from the 1860s, locomotive building being centred at Crewe by the (now) London and North Western Railway Co. As production and population rose, New Bradwell was developed from 1852 and St James's church was built to meet the needs of the new settlement. It cost £4,430 of which £2,560 came from the LNWR's shareholders. To the S is a school and church hall by Street, forming part of a complex with the church.

The architect, George Edmund Street (1824-81) was one of the greatest figures of C19 architecture. Although born and educated in London, he was articled to the Winchester architect Owen Carter from 1841. He then spent time in the office of George Gilbert Scott from 1844 before commencing practice in Wantage in 1848. Growing success led to a move to London in 1856 and a career which saw him become one of the leaders of the Gothic Revival. As at St James's much of his work is characterised by a strong, muscular quality which was much admired from the 1850s and early 1860s. He was also an early pioneer of the use of polychromy (not used here). His most ambitious work is the Royal Courts of Justice in London for which he gained the commission in 1868. He was diocesan architect for Oxford, York Winchester and Ripon. He was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1874. His fame and status is reflected in the fact that, like his former master, Scott, he is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Brodie, A et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 2 (2001), 722-3
Pevsner, N and Williamson, E., The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (1994), 540-1.

The church of St James, New Bradwell, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is an outstanding mid-Victorian church displaying many of the characteristics of the work of its architect, G E Street, who was one of the major figures of C19 architecture.
* It has a number of fittings original to the building of the church and, in the N aisle, 1890s stained glass of exceptional interest.
* It contains an important, reset Norman doorway.

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