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Presbytery to the Roman Catholic Church of St James

A Grade II Listed Building in City of Westminster, Westminster

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Latitude: 51.518 / 51°31'4"N

Longitude: -0.1527 / 0°9'9"W

OS Eastings: 528268

OS Northings: 181520

OS Grid: TQ282815

Mapcode National: GBR 9B.W0

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.93ML

Plus Code: 9C3XGR9W+6W

Entry Name: Presbytery to the Roman Catholic Church of St James

Listing Date: 4 November 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1430834

Location: Marylebone High Street, Westminster, London, W1U

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Marylebone High Street

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Marylebone

Church of England Diocese: London

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St James’ Presbytery was built in 1889, to designs by Edward Goldie of Goldie, Childs and Goldie in a functional Perpendicular Gothic idiom.


St James’ Presbytery was built in 1889, to designs by Edward Goldie of Goldie, Childs and Goldie in a functional perpendicular Gothic idiom. Rising to four storeys over a basement, and abutted to the north transept of the church, the presbytery forms a deliberate contrast to the stone-built church, with which it is contemporary.

MATERIALS: built of London stock brick, with Bath stone dressings, all under a slate roof.

PLAN: the presbytery is composed on an unusual plan, wedged onto a restricted site between the north transept of St James’ Church and the street beyond. As a result, several rooms have oblique angles. The service quarters remain located in the basement, and each floor is similarly laid out, with rooms arranged around a square hall or landing. Principal rooms are generally located to the south-east corner of the building, which has a double aspect over the street.

EXTERIOR: a tall narrow gabled structure in a functional Perpendicular style, wedged into a tight plot between the southern elevation of the Roman Catholic Church of St James, and No.24 George Street, with which it was formerly linked. The plan is irregular, and the east elevation terminates rather abruptly at the junction with the church. The building rises to four storeys over a basement, and is two bays wide to the south and three to the east, with small rectangular openings to the gable apexes. It is constructed in London stock brick with Portland stone dressings, all beneath a slate roof with tall tiered chimneystacks. The south elevation is two bays wide and is dominated by a two-storey oriel on a deep corbelled base, located above the entrance at the left bay. The east elevation has a three-storey projecting box bay to the left. All windows are transomed and mullioned in groups of twos, threes and fours, those to the oriel have full Portland stone surrounds, the remainder have flush stone lintels and cills only. All are square-headed, with the exception of that to right of the entrance, which is four-centred; the stairwell windows, to the centre of the east elevation, are partially stained glass. There is a four-centred entrance opening containing an original timber entrance door with brass nameplates beneath four glazed lights, with matching tympanum over, all accessed via a set of steps with a tiled platform.

INTERIOR: internally, the plan form remains unchanged and detailing is largely intact. The irregular footprint of the building is evident throughout, with several rooms characterised by odd internal angles. Accommodation to each floor is generally arranged around a central stair hall or landing, and upper floors are accessed via a closed string dogleg timber staircase with tapered square-section balusters and drop finials. The ground floor entrance and stair halls are tiled, and walling has run-moulded plaster cornicing with original lincrusta beneath the dado. The ground floor dining room has pine panelled wainscoting and a grey marble cill. Doors are generally of four or six panels, with original timber and brass knobs. The basement retains original main and scullery kitchens, serviced by an original dumbwaiter which remains in use. Fixtures and fittings are generally intact, including an original sink, meshed cupboards, and a series of stores with ventilation panels to the doors. The basement stair is enclosed by a glazed panelled screen wall. Chimneypieces are intact in all the principal rooms, in a variety of materials including marble and carved timber. Connecting lobbies between the Presbytery and the adjoining building (No.24) are currently (2015) retained to the upper floors, formerly leading to nuns’ quarters, but party walls are shortly to be reinstated and there will no longer be connectivity between the buildings. A corridor from the ground floor gives access to the robing rooms and sacristies, which subsequently provide access to the church.


The mission grew out of the chapel attached to the Spanish Embassy. The chapel was built in 1793–96 by Joseph Bonomi on a site in Manchester Square and was extended in 1846 by Charles Parker. The official connection with the embassy ceased in 1827, when the chapel was handed over to the London Vicariate in the wake of Catholic Emancipation. By 1880 the chapel had become too small; the present site was acquired for £30,000 and the existing chapel demolished. Canon William Barry wanted JF Bentley to design the new church but deferred to Cardinal Manning and initiated an architectural competition. This was restricted to Catholic architects and specified ‘the Early English style of architecture as practiced in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries’ (The Builder, 1 August 1885, 151). Bentley did not enter but nine prominent architects did, including Herbert Gribble, PP Pugin, Dunn and Hansom and Leonard Stokes. The assessor, James Fergusson, chose the design by Edward Goldie of Goldie, Child and Goldie, the great-grandson of Joseph Bonomi. His ambitious design was influenced by French Gothic models and Westminster Abbey and managed to fill the broad site by planning double aisles and flush transepts. King Alfonso XII contributed some money for the building works. The foundation stone was laid on 17 June 1887 and the church was opened on 29 September 1890, with the nave left unfinished. Anticipating the acquisition of a piece of adjoining land, the nave was closed at the liturgical west with a temporary brick wall. The three western bays of the nave with the Memorial Chapel and the baptistery were completed by Goldie in 1914-1918.

Although Canon Barry could not appoint Bentley as architect, he commissioned him to design the furnishings, and after Bentley’s death in 1902, these were completed by Thomas Garner. Once the church was completed in 1918, Geoffrey Webb designed windows and furnishings for the west end, including the baptistery and the War Memorial Chapel. The projected tower and spire were never built. The church was consecrated on 28 April 1949.

The presbytery of 1889 is contemporary with the church, abutting to the north transept and to a terrace of Georgian townhouses to the west. Designed in a domestic Gothic/Tudor idiom by the architect of the main church, Edward Goldie. The brick presbytery stands in deliberate contrast to the stone church and externally the building appears to have been little altered. The adjoining house, No. 22, was opened internally to the Presbytery to provide accommodation for Sisters. Plans are currently (2015) underway to close the access and convert No. 22 to residential accommodation.

Reasons for Listing

St James’ Presbytery, Spanish Place, of 1889 by Edward Goldie, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: designed by Edward Goldie, a noted Catholic architect with many listed churches to his name, in a domestic Perpendicular idiom which forms a deliberate and successful contrast to the adjoining church in scale, style and materials;
* Degree of survival: retains its original plan form, with good-quality fixtures and fittings remaining substantially intact throughout, including original service quarters and associated fittings;
* Group value: for the functional and historic group value with the Roman Catholic Church of St. James, Spanish Place, listed at Grade II* and No. 24 George Street attached to the west and listed at Grade II.

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