St James Church

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St James Church, Baildon

St James's Church is the white timber church just off Otley Road.

This painted tongue and goove timber church, which is now a Grade II listed building, was moved to Baildon from Great Warley, Essex in 1905. The Revd N R Bailey, rector of Great Warley, had property in Baildon and hoped to retire there. However his obituary was published in Nov 1900 before he retired. I don't know how that then resulted in the church being moved.

The Historical Interest Map on the Baildon Village site here shows its location and links to a photo.

REPORT ON ST.JAMES'S CHURCH July 2007 (Presented to Baildon Neighbourhood Forum 19 July 2007)

Following approval of the St. James's project by the diocesan registrar in the summer of 2006, the land was put on the market by Dacre, Son and Hartley. The firm Hudson's of Pudsey tendered the highest bid and were given the contract to build 10 houses on the site.

The firm Harrisons's of Cononley have been given the contract to renovate the church, which entails taking it down piece by piece and rebuilding it 30 metres to the west. Special cedar wood is being used to replace rotten timbers, heat pumps under the ground will provide eco-friendly energy for heat and light. A meeting room, new kitchen and toilets will be built adjoining the church, and inside the church will be restored with new flooring, lights, storage space, furniture and art hanging. Around the outside a Biblical garden has been planned which will have plants mentioned in both Old and New testaments. It is hoped people will find it a restful place to be.

The church will have a multi-purpose use. There will be the usual services, plus some modern innovations, and a space for toddlers, cubs, brownies, the art group, the Tai Chi group, whist drives and other activities. For example, there could be a drop-in coffee shop and a mid-week luncheon club.

The work will take about 8 months and we hope to be back by January 2008. It will provide an attractive social centre for all the community.

Meanwhile the present congregation has been given the use of a room at Denso Marston's for Sunday Eucharist and Hoyle Court School will be used for services on Sun.9 Sep. Sun.7 Oct. (Harvest) and Sun 2 Dec. ( Toy service).

We appreciate the generosity of both Marston's and Hoyle Court School during the renovations.

(Joan Edbury, Church Warden, July 2007 )

Listed Building Description. Grade II

Church. Mid-late C19 re-erected on present site c1905. Timber-framed with weatherboarding, pantile roof. Nave and chancel continuously roofed, north transceptal chapel, south porch, short belfry tower to west end. 5 bays articulated by buttresses, which are continuation of principal rafters of A-frame, with quatrefoils set in angle with wall. Simple gabled transcept and porch. Lateral windows are square-headed and plain. East and west windows are of 4 lights with traceried heads. Tower has 3 quatrefoils in belfry with pyramidal roof. Gable cross. Interior: Single-vessel. 6 internal bays with collar trusses. That at junction with chancel is arch-braced. Simple chancel screen with curved spandrels to uprights infilled with quatrefoils. Chancel roof is boarded. Small transceptal chapel with boarded roof. 3 windows with diamond panes and coloured glass. Originally erected at Great Warley in Essex; it was given, together with land for the site, by the Trustees of the late Rev. H. R. Bailey, sometime Rector of Warley. Prominent in the landscape.

Extract from The Essex Society for Archaeology and History website

The following text has been extracted from the The Essex Society for Archaeology and History Winter 2004 Newsletter that can be found here - webpage. Permission to publish this has been granted by Michael Leach (Hon Secretary, Essex Society for Archaeology and History) (2 June 2008)


On 17 July, members were introduced to Great Warley with an informative introduction to the history of the village by Peter Proud, churchwarden. The original church and manor house were at the southern end of this long thin parish. Both before and after the Conquest, the manor was in the hands of the abbess of Barking and remained so until the dissolution. On the suicide of a subsequent lay owner, and the manor was divided between his daughters. John Evelyn acquired the manor in 1649 but, apart from attending a few manorial courts, he had no involvement in the village. From 1741, Warley Common became an important site for the militia camp. Dr Johnson attended as an observer in 1778 and was impressed by the musket firing. Later that year, George III attended and his stay with Lord Petre at Thorndon necessitated the employment of 60 upholsterers. In 1806 permanent barracks were built on the Common where there was also a racecourse. Soon after the arrival of the railway at Brentwood in 1840, 116 acres of Warley Common was sold for housing development and in 1855 additional land was sold for the construction of the Essex Lunatic Asylum. The railway also brought new owners and new wealth to Warley. Edward Ind (son of the founder of Romford Brewery) built Coombe Lodge in 1866. Evelyn Heseltine (died 1930) built a large new house for himself in the village in 1876 (later converted into a hotel) and at the same time Frederic Willmott bought and enlarged Warley Place. His daughter Ellen was to become one of the most famous plantswomen in the country.

In 1892, the parish church was still at the far southern end of the parish, inconveniently sited for most parishioners, many of whom to go in the Brentwood direction to the new church of St Michael, Warley, built in 1855. The rector of Great Warley decided to address this problem by constructing, at his own expense, a substantial wooden church behind the rectory with seating for 140. This proved popular but on his death this privately owned church was bequeathed to the parish of Baildon in Yorkshire, where it is still in use. This move did not suit the parishioners of Great Warley who had become accustomed to the convenience of a church in the village, and Evelyn Heseltine put up £5000 for a new church and rectory, in memory of his brother Arnold (died 1897). The architect chosen was Charles Harrison Townsend (1852-1928), already noted for his Art Nouveau designs of the Bishopsgate Institute, the Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Horniman Museum. A decade earlier he had refronted All Saint’s, Ennismore Gardens, South Kensington, working with Heywood Sumner (1853-1940), one of the leading designers of the Arts & Crafts movement.

Dedicated in 1904, the simple roughcast exterior of the church that Townsend designed at Great Warley belies the rich Art Nouveau detail within. He again collaborated with Heywood Sumner (who designed the stained glass in the apse) but also, more significantly, with William Reynolds-Stephens (1862-1943). Reynolds-Stephens’s training as an engineer led him to try out new techniques at Great Warley, such as the electroplating of the Christ figure, and the use of aluminium leaf pressed into plaster. Electric lighting was used from the outset, and the electroliers were made of galvanised iron embellished with enamel panels and glass beads. Other artists were involved too; Louis Davies designed the baptistery windows, and Reginald Hallward the chapel ceiling. All the interior fittings, even the pews and the wall panelling, were designed for the church and are a surprising and remarkable tribute to the innovative and under-appreciated talent of the time. Recent restoration has enabled much of the craftsmanship to be seen again in its original glory. Sadly much of the stained glass was lost due to bomb damage, and some of the post-war replacements now seem inappropriate. However it was very pleasing to see that one has recently been replaced to an original design. Those in charge of looking after this church are to be congratulated for their energy and enthusiasm in preserving and enhancing such an unusual building.

After tea, a small group went to Warley Place to look at the remains of Ellen Willmott’s house and garden, now managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve. Many unusual features of the garden, and its plants, have survived.

Michael Leach