Building » Twickenham – St James

Twickenham – St James

Pope’s Grove, Twickenham TW1

A modest Gothic Revival church in the Early English style, designed by the Catholic architect J. S. Hansom, son of the better-known J. A. Hansom. The building has been relatively little altered and retains many of its original and early fittings.

Before provision for Catholic worship in Twickenham, there was a choice of churches in Sunbury, Richmond or Twickenham. Then, before the building of St James’, Mass was celebrated in a private house in Grosvenor Road. The new church was opened on 25 July 1885 and was largely paid for by James de Lacy Towle, a convert who had offered a substantial part of his fortune to Cardinal Manning for building churches in Westminster Diocese. The dedication to St James was a mark of gratitude to the generosity of the founder. The design is credited to J. S. Hansom, but the pressreport of the consecration credits both Hansom and Charles George Keogh of Kensington. The church was consecrated in July 1887. St James’s Catholic school opened in 1892 (present school 2002-03); a further school, St Catherine’s, opened in 1914. In 1925-26 the parishes of Hampton Hill and St Margaret’s were formed out of that of St James. The hall was provided in 1927. The church was reordered in 1980-81 under the architects Broadbent, Hastings Reid & New (project architect B. C. Brown): the altar was brought from St Mary’s College, Twickenham (qv), and was designed by Sam Holland of Sir Albert Richardson’s office. The meeting room and link to the presbytery were built in 2011 (Grainne O’Keefe of Twickenham, architect). Further development includes plans to build a parish centre to the east of the church.

The church is oriented to the north so directions given in this description are liturgical.

Designed by J. S. Hansom, St James’s church is built of buff, London stock brick with freestone dressings, and is cruciform in plan with a nave, sanctuary, north and south transepts and, to the northeast, a sacristy above which is a choir gallery with an organ. It is a relatively modest Gothic Revival building which takes its cues from thirteenth-century architecture. The windows are nearly all lancets with pairs of lights in the nave, five lights at the east end, a pair of tall lights in the west wall (with a mandorla above and small, triple lancets either side of the doorway), and another pair of lancets (with a triangular opening above) in the south transept south wall. The windows have shafts (both inside and out) and have labels with deeply carved label stops. The roof is steeply pitched and covered with red clay tiles.

The sanctuary and nave form a single vessel. Chapels occupy the transepts and are divided from the nave by a pair of moulded, pointed arches, with a circular pier between them. The roof is of scissor-braced construction and has short wall-posts placed on foliage corbels. The flooring is or remarkably large pine blocks, arranged herringbone-wise. Unfortunately at some time virtually every surface of the walls and fittings have been covered in white paint.

Fittings and furnishings:

  • Reredos. Three pointed arches either side of the tabernacle: extensive foliage and diaper decoration. Carved by a Mr Porter of Chelsea.

  • Pulpit. Polygonal, of stone with marble shafts.

  • Font. Circular, ornately treated, with nail-head projections.

  • Organ. From the chapel of King Manoel II of Portugal who lived at Fulwell Lodge from 1913 until his death in 1932, after which it was presented to the church by his widow, Queen Augusta.

  • Side chapel altars and reredoses. A pair, of stone, differing only in the scenes depicted (Annunciation, north; Sacred Heart showing the Adoration by St Margaret Mary Alacoque, south). The carving was carried out by the prolific Cheltenham firm of Boultons.

  • Stained glass. King Manoel gave the glass in the west windows in 1932. The east window glass is by Mayer of Munich.

  • Stations of the Cross. Of wood, deeply carved but disfigured with white paint.

  • Seating. A rather miscellaneous collection. The open-backed benches are probably original to the building of the church.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. S. Hansom

Original Date: 1885

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed