Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Hertfordshire (District Authority)
High Wych
National Grid Reference:
TL 46352 14131


TL 4614 HIGH WYCH HIGH WYCH ROAD (west side) High Wych Village

16/13 Parish Church of St James the Great 22.2.67


Parish Church. 1860-61 by George Edward Pritchett (1824-1912) for and chiefly at the cost of Rev H F Johnson (memorial in chancel). '1860' on rainwater heads and on brick at NE corner of nave. Foundation stone laid 25.7.1860: completed and consecrated 17.6.1861 (Bishops Stortford Observer 20.4.1861 and 29.6.1881). A striking village church in Pritchett's personal interpretation of the Early English style. A vast red tile roof tops low buttressed walls of uncoursed knapped flints with red brick bands and stone lancet windows and dressings. The brick bands run round the buttresses, and red brick and knapped flint voussoirs alternate in outer arches over the 2-centred arched stone heads of all windows and doors. The interior is in white brick with red brick bands, the chancel and apse are vaulted in brick and have painted linear diaper and foliage decoration on vault and walls. There is a lofty 4-bay nave, S aisle, S porch, SW round tower, a raised chancel, eastern apse, and SW vestry with a rounded E end. The rounded plan forms are echoed in the part-conical roof forms of tower, apse and vestry, flanking the higher gabled nave roof. The narrower octagonal bell stage and shingled fleche of the tower do not detract from the dominance of the nave. The aisle roof continues the nave roof at a flatter pitch. There is no clerestory and the nave is lit by tall paired lancets on the N and 3 lancets above the W door. Externally, this has 2 recessed orders with dog-tooth ornamentation to the inner, a cross worked in red brick on each side and glazed ceramic plaques with alpha and omega, set into the bottom stone of each jamb. The S porch has a large apsidal bulge on the W, low trefoil headed windows on the E, and an ornamental dog-tooth arch with an outer order with deep hollows springing from a recessed shaft with foliate capital. 2 ornate iron boot scrapers. 2 simple chamfered orders to S door with hood-mould stops of king and bishop. Interior of church virtually unaltered. The arcade with red and white voussiors is carried on single slender stone columns with the exaggeratedly large square foliate capitals prominent in the wall paintings in the nave of St Albans Abbey. The 2 narrow arches on a central column under a wider arch, used between chancel and vestry, seems to be from a similar source although the column is here repeated in the depth of the wall as in a cloister. Polychrome encaustic tile floor. Contemporary stained glass windows in chancel and apse and slightly later in nave, aisle and vestry. Jambs of brick chancel arch have dog-tooth arrises up to stone block at springing of chamfered brick arch with hood mould and foliate stops. Similar arch next to apse. Stone pulpit in NE corner with quatrefoil panel of a sower carved on W face, foliage carved shelf corbel, a marble shaft below an integral stone bible shelf, and stone steps on the S side. Square stone font on 4 marble pillars, with figure carving on each face. Organ by 'Father' Willis about 1881, renovated by Willis 1946. Carved oak lectern by Warham Guild 1947. Original stone and marble reredos extends all round the apse with aumbrey and piscina in aedicules at ends. Carved surface diaper with openwork carved cresting with 4 freestanding shafts carrying angels above cresting. Marble figure panel behind altar. Altar-rails and dwarf screens to chancel by Warham Guild 1949. Gabled stone aedicule on S face of round tower has clockface set between spiral columns with 6-pointed star carved above. A striking church of original design of which contemporary critics said it shows considerable skill on the part of the architect (Ecclesioloqist (1861) 282) and which Pevsner regarded as "as original in its handling of Gothic forms as anything in the Art Nouveau of forty years later" (Pevsner (1977) 195-6). The church is of the greatest architectural interest, unaltered and retaining its original scheme of painted decoration counterpointing the white and red brickwork of the interior. It is also the key central building in the group of contemporary flint buildings by Pritchett for Rev H F Johnson built to furnish the centre of the newly created parish. (Sources; Builder 8.3.1912 p 283: WEA II (1967) 28-30).

Listing NGR: TL4635214131


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, (1977), 195-6
'The Builder' in 8 March, (1912), 283
'The Ecclesiologist' in The Ecclesiologist, (1861), 282


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 01 Mar 2002
Reference: IOE01/05152/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr A. Gude. Source Historic England Archive
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