During the second half of the nineteenth century
In 1863 James Walters of Penlan (now Oakleigh House School), after whom Walters Road was named (though it is often called Walter Road), offered a site for a church almost opposite St Mary’s vicarage, which then stood where the Belgrave Court flats are. Walters Road was a residential rather than a commercial area, and a committee was formed of such prominent citizens such as banker Robert Eaton, John Crow
With the efforts of Rev. Edward Squire the new church was built, and consecrated by the Bishop of St David’s 150 years ago, on 21 June 1867. Over refreshments on the vicarage lawn opposite, the vicar of St Mary’s stated that the new church was “chiefly for the use of the more respectable parishioners”, though such an opinion stands at variance with Christ Jesus, who stated that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Rev. Squire did mention the needs of the “poorer brethren”, having plans to build in the
Even without a tower, St James’ did have one bell - from the Jesuit Cathedral in
Finance, as was customary in those days, was augmented by pew rents, with the charges graded so that dearer pews had the best acoustics and the clearest view of the pulpit. This system at least gave members of the congregation a vested interest in the church.
St James’ was not a separate parish, but a chapel-of-ease to St Mary’s, whose vicar and curates would take the services, until its own curate-in-charge was appointed from 1894. It only became a separate parish in 1985, with a vicarage in
In May 1905 the church hall was opened in the grounds. The outside world did intrude – with memorials to trooper S.M. Evans, killed in
During the Second World War aerial bombardment caused damage to St James’, but unlike St Mary’s, which was gutted in February 1941 during the intense “Three Nights Blitz”, the building remained in use. With
Bomb damage had caused the church glass to be replaced by plain glass, but in peacetime two stained glass windows designed by Gerald Smith were installed. In 1954 the east window was installed with the theme from the Te Deum, “Thou art the King of glory, O Christ”, followed by the west window, which depicts the church as a ship carrying pilgrims to the holy city.
In recent years the land around the church has been utilised sensitively with appropriate housing, so that as it celebrates its 150th anniversary St James’ stands in a residential area - as did St Mary’s prior to the 1941 bombardment.