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Church of St James

A Grade II Listed Building in Greenwich, Greenwich

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Latitude: 51.4699 / 51°28'11"N

Longitude: 0.0238 / 0°1'25"E

OS Eastings: 540660

OS Northings: 176489

OS Grid: TQ406764

Mapcode National: GBR LX.4NF

Mapcode Global: VHHNQ.CBD0

Plus Code: 9F32F29F+XG

Entry Name: Church of St James

Listing Date: 8 June 1973

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1358962

English Heritage Legacy ID: 200418

Location: Blackheath Westcombe, Greenwich, London, SE3

County: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Blackheath Westcombe

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Kidbrooke

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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1866-7 by Newman and Billing. There was much rebuilding after war damage with the restoration being carried out by Holliday and Greenwood in 1955.

MATERIALS: Coursed semi-dressed ragstone with freestone dressings. Copper-clad roofs.

PLAN: Wide nave, wide N and S aisles, N porch, NE tower, chancel, SE polygonal vestry with porch to its E.

EXTERIOR: The E end of the chancel faces the main road and has a large five-light window with Geometrical tracery of c1300. The chancel side windows are of two lights with more Geometrical tracery, in this case with three spherical triangles or circular trefoils in the head. On the N and attached to the W part of the chancel is the three-stage tower. This has pairs of two-light belfry windows with pointed tracery in the style of c1300, a pretty foliage frieze below the battlements, and is capped by a slender, 1950s spirelet which replaced the original 160ft-high stone spire. At the NW corner is a stair-turret-cum-buttress arrangement which incorporates some complex details of geometry. The six-bay, lean-to aisles have two-light windows with varied tracery with patterns drawing on medieval designs of c1300. The clerestory has windows formed of spherical triangles which incorporate triple cusped sub-triangles or circular trefoils which mirrors the motifs in the chancel side window tracery. The S doorway has been blocked at some stage in the C20 and has glazing and Y-tracery in its head. The aisle bays are divided by buttresses with offsets and each bay has a two-light window with ornate tracery. The W face of the nave has a pointed doorway and, above, a large six-light window of C15 Perpendicular character in contrast to the rather earlier style of the rest of the fenestration. The N porch roof cuts into that of the N aisle and W of it is a complex structural arrangement with plain parapet roof, chamfered walling at the angle and a circular foiled window in the N wall, all of which finds no structural expression internally.
INTERIOR: The interior is very spacious and light with a broad nave and aisles, little stained glass and the reduction in area of the C19 seating. The lightness is also increased by the white painting on the entire wall surfaces apart from cream for the piers. The six-bay nave has alternating round and octagonal piers with carved leaf and fruit on the capitals. The arches have a chamfer and a hollow and over them are hoodmoulds with head-stops. Between the arches are very richly carved corbels beneath the springing of the vaulting of the lower part of the roof and which is arched over the clerestory lights. The roof above is in two plain tiers, divided into rectangular panels. The chancel is as wide as the nave and the junction between these two parts is marked by an arch which rises from a very florid corbels, trefoil responds and, again, very florid capitals. The chancel roof is differently treated from that of the nave and is keel-shaped with rectangular panelling. This roof, and that in the nave, is painted a bright blue apart from the ribs which are white. On the N side of the chancel is a traceried arch to the organ chamber-cum-vestry beneath the tower: the enrichment of this arch rises from suitably musically themed large corbels depicting David playing his harp (W) and St Cecilia and her organ (E). The E end of the chancel is much sparser than in the C19 since the reredos has been removed (see PRINCIPAL FIXTURES) leaving three blind trefoiled arches either side of blank walling. The aisles have lean-to roofs with plain trusses.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The fixtures are the product of both the C19 and C20. The central part of the C19 reredos, depicting the Supper at Emmaus, has been transferred to the E wall of the S aisle. The C19 seating in the nave has been reduced in area but is still the C19 original and has unusually shaped ends with attractive little elbows decorated with a whorl pattern. The font of 1898 represents an angel holding out a large shell and is modelled on a famous prototype, that by the neo-Classical Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), in Copenhagen Cathedral, a design which was reused in a number of British churches c1900. It appears to have been moved from the W end of the south aisle which was fitted out, according to an inscription, in 1926, no doubt the date of the traceried panelling in the W area. To the E the panelling is dated 1937. At the E end of the 'baptistry' is a large wooden First World War memorial. In the chancel the extensive traceried panelling is Edwardian while the furniture appears to be mid-C20. The W window of the S aisle is by Kempe and Co (dates of death 1902 and 1921). The post-Second World War glass in the E and W windows is by Carl J Edwards, 1955.

HISTORY: This is a large church with what is said to be the biggest footprint of any church in Woolwich. It was built to meet the needs of the expanding population in mid-Victorian times and was paid for by generous private donations which raised some £7,000. There were numerous subsequent benefactions to embellish the building. Although not directly hit, St James's suffered extensive damage in the Second World War, and was reroofed in the 1950s and new stained glass was provided. The stone spire was lost at this time. The building is, therefore, now very much a combination of C19 structural fabric, later C19 and early C20 enhancements and a major refurbishment in the 1950s.
The architects, Arthur Shean Newman (1828-73) and Arthur Billing (1824-96) ,were in partnership in London from about 1860 and had an extensive practice mainly devoted with church work, most of it in London. They were also surveyors to Guy¿s Hospital and to St Olave's District Board of Works. After Newman's death in 1873 Billing took on his son as a partner in 1890. Billing had worked in the office of the well-known Gothic Revival architect, Benjamin Ferrey, from 1847 and began independent practice in 1849.

SOURCES: B. Cherry & N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South Harmondsworth, 1983, p. 246.
Basil F J Clarke, Parish Churches of London, 1966, p 213.
Inscriptions in the church.

The church of St James, Kidbrooke Park Road, Greenwich is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is a large, good representative example of mid-Victorian Gothic church-building.
* It includes fittings, furnishings and stained glass from the mid-C19 to the mid-C20.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 27 October 2017.

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