In 1105 an Augustinian  Abbey was established in the area know as St James, Northampton. Today, links with the past can be found in street names - Abbots Way, Abbey Street and Peverils Way - reminding us of Abbot Peveral, the founder of the Abbey.(P)In 1999 remains of this Abbey, along with some human remains, were found on the site of the Express Lift Company's Abbey Works. These remains have been taken to Canterbury for examination before being interred for the second time.


Whilst on the subject of the Express Lift Company, during its existence there was a lift testing tower built on the site. This became know as the 'Northampton Lighthouse' as a result of numerous comments made by locals to the BBC Radio 2 programme hosted by Terry Wogan. This Tower can be seen for many miles and has become a well known landmark for Northampton. The Express Lift Company has now ceased to exist and the site is now a housing development.


To return to the history of St James. Between 1868 and 1871 the present St James Church was built in red brick by a company from Tonbridge in Kent. At that time the Church formed a extension of the Dallington Parish and was known as St James, Dallington. In 1900 the building was enlarged, evidence of which can be seen by close examination of the roof. In 1920, the tower was built on the south west corner, as a memorial to those who fell during the First World War. Inside the entrance to what is now the Hall, there are plaques listing those men of St James who died.

World War1 memorial in the tower entranceAnother memorial, given by Joseph and Mary Grose in memory of their son, Albert, who died serving in the Royal Flying Corp, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force, is the church clock. As it could not be seen from the Grose's house in Weedon Road, it was raised from its original position to that it now occupies, above the level of the roof of the nave.


In 2000, the Church was broken into. Damage was caused to several windows, including the window depicting the calling of Samuel. In addition all the Church silverware was stolen, Crosses, candlesticks and Collection plate.

The Calling of Samuel, a window  in the East Aisle

With the help of other churches, including St David's, Kingsthorpe, who loaned us their 'spare' processional Cross and the Northampton General Hospital Chapel, who gave St James a set of matching candlesticks and Cross that they were no longer going to use due to refurbishment, With these we were able to continue as normal. Several months later All the silverware etc was found by local council workmen and restored to us. Only slight damage had been caused to some of the items. Whilst the items are priceless to St James, they are of silver plate over base metal.


Inside the Church. Entrance to the Church is now by the south side door. Following the sale of the St James Institute building, from money raised alterations were made to the Church. These included creating an area, now known as the Hall, by reducing the worshipping area of the Church and moving the font to its current position by the steps of the Lady Chapel.  An oak screen, given in memory of Stanley Marlow, who died during the First World War, was moved from the Chancel Steps to form a dividing screen between the Church and the Hall. Despite the reduction in the size of the worshipping area of the Church, it can still seat 200 people, the the Hall being used if this is not sufficient.

Nave. Chancel and Sanctuary

The main altar was moved away from the east end of the Church to allow front facing celebration. There is also a nave altar. The Lady Chapel is at the east end of the North Aisle, and is used on a regular basis. The Church has a magnificent East Window in stained glass. At the top is a depiction of God on His Throne, surrounded by angels, looking down on the three major events of the life of Christ - His Birth - Crucifixion and Resurrection. Below these are three events from the Old Testament - Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden - Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness and the ascension of Elijah.


At the east end of the North Aisle, is the Children's Altar, dedicated in 1950. The kneeler was embroidered by members of the Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade, with the help of Mrs Winn Harris. The altar frontal mainly used on this alter was given by the Harris Family, as were the candlesticks and Cross.


This history of St James was compiled by the St James Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade - 1989.









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A brief history of St James area of Northampton