Church of St James and boundary wall


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
102 Green Road, Hereford, HR1 2QW


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Statutory Address:
102 Green Road, Hereford, HR1 2QW

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

Location Description:
County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A Gothic Revival church of 1869, by Thomas Nicholson, Hereford Diocesan Architect, the builder was Mr Gough of Bishops Castle. The church suffered an extensive fire in 1901. It was restored by Nicholson & Hartree and re-opened in 1903. The vestry by Scriven, Powell and James was added in 1959.

Reasons for Designation

The Church of St James and boundary wall, built 1869 by Thomas Nicholson, rebuilt following fire in 1903 by Nicholson and Hartree is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural Interest:

* The building has evident architectural significance as a large, well-designed Victorian Gothic Revival church by a known architect;

* Internally there are good quality decorations and fittings exhibiting a high standard of craftsmanship.

Historic Interest:

* The Church of St James is a physical manifestation of the need and desire of the residents of St James’ district for their own parish church. Through contributing to the streetscape of contemporary housing in the Bartonsham area of St James, the church increases understanding of the expansion of Hereford in the C19;

*     The original seating arrangement of the building and plaque from the Incorporated Church Building Society provide evidence of liturgical concerns within the church of England in the 1860s with regard to a moving away from Anglo-Catholic ritual and towards the more evangelical style espoused by non-conformists;

* The church has a strong association with the notable local cleric John Venn;

* The church has group value with the neighbouring near contemporary Church of England school and vicarage, and to a lesser extent the later almshouses opposite. These other buildings are not listed, but as a group illustrate the status of the vicar and influence of the church in education and social welfare in the late C19 and early C20.


Hereford in the C19 was a geographically isolated, rural county town with little heavy industry. The railway came relatively late to Hereford in 1853, and this contributed to the population expanding greatly; it more than doubled from just over 10,000 in 1831 to more than 21,000 by 1901. This population expansion was housed in part in the new district of St James, within the parish of St Owen’s, south-east of Hereford’s city centre. The new ecclesiastical parish of St James, Bartonsham was formed from St Owen’s parish on 14 December 1869. In the 1860s St Owen’s was one of the most deprived parts of Hereford. Following the destruction of St Owen’s Church in the 1645 siege of Hereford it had only one church to serve it; that of St Peter in the centre of the city.

The vicar of St Peter’s from 1833 to 1870 was John Venn (1802-1890), one of Hereford’s most notable C19 figures. He was the grandson of Henry Venn who had founded the evangelical, abolitionist Clapham Sect, and son of John Venn, Vicar of Clapham. Venn was a tireless campaigner for bettering the lives of the poor of the city, and was the instigator in the establishment of the Church of St James for the new parish of the same name. He is commemorated along with his sister Emelia by the arch to the cemetery of St Peter’s Church, Hereford (National Heritage List for England 1196822). In the 1915 publication ‘Historical Landmarks of Hereford’ the author William Collins reports that St James’s Church itself is ‘known as the Venn memorial’, illustrating the regard in which he was still held in the city. Venn saw the need for a church for both the poorest of St Owen’s parish, as well as for the inhabitants of the new houses being developed at Bartonsham at the southern end of St James’s district. These new houses were built by the Hereford Freehold Land Association whose purpose was to allow more men to own freehold property and so meet the eligibility to vote. The population of the St James district in 1867 was ‘around 2200 and rising rapidly’ (Hereford Journal 19 October 1867).

In 1867 plans for a Gothic Revival church in Geometric style were drawn up by Thomas Nicholson (1823-1895), the Hereford Diocesan architect. A tower and spire were planned for, and the first eight steps of a spiral stair for the tower were constructed and survive in a storage space off the porch. However, due to lack of funds the tower and spire were never built. The land for the church was granted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The church is orientated north / south rather than the usual east / west. The plot could accommodate the normal orientation, but the plans for surrounding development would have meant that the main west doors would be facing away from the new houses of the parishioners. The cost, initially estimated to be £4000, was raised by public subscription. Newspaper reports of the time name ‘distant friends’ of Venn’s as having largely contributed to the early subscriptions for the new church. Subscriptions were made public, and show how all sections of the community donated according to their means, as well as documenting the larger donations from afar. The Hereford Journal (19 October 1867) published a list of the latest individual donors and their amounts. These ranged from 10 shillings from a Mrs Ravenshill of Bartonsham to £100 from the banker and MP for Huntingdon, Thomas Baring. The anonymous donation of £1 from ‘a maidservant in St Owen’s’, potentially a tenth of her annual wage, shows the sacrifices the future parishioners made and the importance they placed on having a church in their locality.

In the 1860s, the Church of England was concerned both that it was losing its congregation to the then flourishing non-conformist denominations, and that ‘high church’ ritualism was Catholicism in all but name. The original plan was for St James’ church to have 600 sittings in the wide nave, aisles and transepts, with the potential to add galleries for a further 200. Contemporary newspaper reports say that no payment would be taken for any seating, and a wooden plaque in the porch records a donation of £180 towards seating made in 1868 by the Incorporated Church Building Society on condition that the seating is free and unappropriated. These arrangements and the minimal decoration suggest that the preaching style would be relatively informal, more in line with the practices of the non-conformists, and in contrast with the more high church, Anglo-Catholic tradition where there was more separation of priest and altar from the congregation. The Gothic Revival style of St James’ church externally was favoured by those on the high church side of the debate, but was also typical for a new church of its time whatever the politics of the Church locally. In this way, the church building represents contemporary Church of England politics and doctrine as well as the particular needs of a poor but expanding Victorian suburb. John Venn, with his evangelical heritage and connections, is likely to have favoured the more low church approach to the liturgy for which the internal layout provided.

The church opened in 1869 but suffered a very serious fire in 1901. It was restored the following year by Nicholson & Hartree at a cost of £5000 and reopened in 1903. The encaustic tiles to replace those damaged in the fire were supplied by the original manufacturer, Godwin of Lugwardine, at half price.

A vestry was added to the west side of the chancel in 1958-1959 by Scriven, Powell & James. A further extension housing WCs was erected in the 1990s.


A Gothic Revival church of 1869, by Thomas Nicholson, Hereford Diocesan Architect, the builder was Mr Gough of Bishops Castle. The church suffered an extensive fire in 1901. It was restored by Nicholson & Hartree and re-opened in 1903. The vestry by Scriven, Powell and James was added in 1959.

MATERIALS: externally Three Elms Quarry sandstone walls, with ashlar Bath stone dressings. Internally, Bath stone with bands of blue stone. The roof is Whitland Abbey Slate.

PLAN: the church is cruciform, orientated north / south with the chancel to the north. The combined length of nave and chancel is approximately 34m north to south, the width of the nave and aisle approximately east to west 16 metres, and the length of the transepts east to west is approximately 22.5m. The church occupies a prominent corner plot at the junction of Green Street with Vicarage Road. The porch extends eastwards from the south end of the east aisle. The vestry was added to the north of the west transept in 1959. The north-west corner was further extended to provide WCs in the late C20. The eastern, Green Street, boundary is marked by a low stone coped wall with a wooden gate at both ends. The Vicarage Road boundary to the south is delineated by an open metal fence with hedge planting, and a wooden gate opposite the door to the nave. The western boundary is the red brick boundary wall with the neighbouring school, and the northern boundary is the red brick wall to the early C21 housing on the former General Hospital site.

EXTERIOR: walls are rock faced sandstone laid in broken courses. Bath stone is used for the windows, all of which have Geometric tracery. A string course in Bath stone is continuous around the church at the level of the bottom of the windows, it rises to form hood moulds over the various doorways. The windows have hood moulds supported on corbels carved in the form of human heads. Ashlar Bath stone is also used for quoins and buttresses. Each corner is buttressed, with additional buttresses flanking the large north, south and transept windows. The roof of the chancel has a slightly lower ridge height than that of the nave. There is a bellcote at the apex of the north gable end of the chancel roof, with a Latin cross on the ridge of the north gable of the chancel and a Celtic cross to the ridge of the south gable of the nave. The east and west elevations of the nave have a clerestory of circular hexafoil windows above the lean-to roofs to the aisles below. The east aisle has two two-lancet windows to the nave and one to the chancel. The east end of the transept is lit by a four-lancet window with two quatrefoils and a hexafoil above. The porch at the south end of the east elevation was the site for the proposed tower. The porch is entered through a foliate design wrought-iron gate. The gate is within a Bath stone cusped arch which is supported by columns with foliate capitals. There is a single door to the sanctuary at the north end of the east elevation. The north elevation is dominated by a tall window of three lancets with three hexafoils above. The west elevation has three two-lancet windows to the nave. The west transept is lit by a four-lancet window with two quatrefoils and a hexafoil above. North of the west transept on the west elevation is the late-C20 WC addition. The south elevation to Vicarage Road has a central nave door with elaborate iron strapwork, and a large three-lancet window with cinquefoil above. Both south ends of the aisles have a two-lancet window with trefoil above.

INTERIOR: walls of ashlar bath stone. Aisles are separated from the nave by arcades of four bays formed by circular columns supporting polychromatic arches. The columns are decorated with carved foliage capitals. A further polychromatic arch in the crossing separates the chancel from the transept. This chancel arch springs from corbels on the nave-facing sides of the northern piers of the crossing. These corbels are carved in the form of the paired heads of the four evangelists with red marble shafts rising from them. Other arches in the crossing and transept are smaller and simpler in monochrome Bath stone, some springing from corbels decorated with carved foliage. The east end of the transept is a side chapel dedicated to Reverend Frederick Lansdell, Vicar of St James’s from 1910 to 1933.

FLOORS: the floor of the nave and aisles is carpet over wooden parquet blocks, with small red rectangular tiles laid in herringbone pattern marking walkways between pews. The choir is two steps up from the nave and floored with encaustic tiles from Godwin of Lugwardine to its centre, and floor boards to the sides. These encaustic tiles continue up another three steps from the choir to the altar and are used for the whole of the sanctuary. The porch floor has red and black quarry tiles laid in diamond pattern.

MEMORIALS AND STAINED GLASS: there is a First World War memorial plaque inscribed with 51 names behind the font at the east end of the transept. A memorial tablet inscribed with the 36 names of those of the parish who lost their lives during the Second World War is on the wall of the east aisle, immediately north of the porch entrance. The north window by A F Eridge and James Hogan of Powell of Whitefriars is a 1934 memorial to those who fell in First World War. It shows various images on the theme of sacrifice. A pair of stained glass windows in the west aisle depicts Matthew 15. 21-28 ‘O woman, great is thy faith’. These were in memory of Mary Ann Powell who died in 1881. A second pair of stained glass windows in the east aisle pair depict ‘Jesus the Good Shepherd’ and ‘Jesus Light of the World’ (after Holman Hunt). Both pairs are by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, it is not certain whether they survived the fire or are replacements. The stained glass window in the east transept chapel is a memorial to Reverend Frederick Lansdell, vicar of the parish and depicts the Parable of the Sower. It dates to 1951 and is by Archibald Davies (1877-1953) of the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts. There are 14 stone and brass memorial plaques to former clergy and parishioners; notable are the brass plaque to Reverend John Venn next to the pulpit and the metal tablet in the east transept to the Reverend Lansdell. A stone laid by the Lord Bishop of Hereford in 1902 to commemorate the re-building of the church is located at the south end of the nave.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: the reredos is by Groome and Bettington and dates to 1913; it was donated in the memory of the Reverend John Houlder who had died in office in 1912. The reredos extends along the whole of the north wall behind the altar. It is of plain panels except for the five panels directly behind the altar where roses are carved within arched niches. The wooden communion rail in the sanctuary is supported by wrought iron pillars with gilded details, there is a simpler timber rail in the Lansdell Chapel. The Lansdell Chapel and organ vestry are separated by a wooden screen with vertical openings containing decorated tracery in their upper parts. The organ is in the north section of the east aisle east of the choir, the pipes opposite on the west side of the choir. The organ is early C20 and by Nicholson and Company of Worcester and retains handles and bellows for manual blowing. The pulpit and lectern are timber with carved Gothic decoration, and are assumed to date from the early C20. The stone font is square with columns to its corners which support a band of foliage decoration. It sits on an octagonal base. Pews are pine wood and plain, with the exception of those in the choir which have some tracery decoration and poppy-head finials. The doors are fitted with elaborately decorated strap ironmongery.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a low, coped stone wall forms the boundary to Green Street. There is a gate at each (north and south) end. Both gate openings have a taller buttressed pier to the north but are missing their corresponding southern piers.


Books and journals
Brooks, A, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire, (2012), 309
Collins, William, Historical Landmarks of Hereford, (1915)
Speak, Michael (Author), Victorian and Edwardian Buildings in Hereford, 1837-1919, (2006)
A Thousand Years of Building with stone website, accessed 2 September 2020 from
Bartonsham History Group website, History of St James' Church, accessed 2 September 2020 from
Hereford Journal 19 October 1867
Hereford Times 30 November 1867
Hereford Times 5 October 1867


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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