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In 1874 the present parish church was commenced by the third Earl of Eldon, and was completed in 1880. It did not immediately replace the existing church, and for over forty years it was, in effect, the private chapel of the Eldon family.
It was licensed for marriages in 1909 and the first wedding took place there on 28 July 1909.
In April 1921 Lord Eldon conveyed the church and churchyard to the Church Commissioners, and on October 11th, 1921 they were consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Jocelyne. On 19 January 1922 the new church was substituted for the old one under an Instrument of the Church Commissioners.
The architect of this very notable building was George Edmund Street.
The stone and marble was all quarried and worked on the Encombe estate, and the timber was brought from Lord Eldon’s Gloucestershire property. The work of construction was carried out largely by men of the estate, without the aid of contractors.
The tower, which is somewhat disproportionate in size to the rest of the church, was made large enough to contain a full peal of eight bells, increased to ten in 2000.
The fine three-manual organ was built in 1880.
The massive appearance of the church and the evidently fine materials used in its construction may well give the visitor the impression that it was built to last forever, with little or no attention. This, unfortunately, is far from being the case: after some eighty or ninety years, a considerable amount of maintenance and repair work has been found to be urgently necessary, and over the late0 has been raised by its small parish of under two hundred people, there being no endowment. The Vicar and Churchwardens, and members of the Church Council, and all those who use and love this beautiful House of God, are deeply grateful for all the help that has been given, and pray that it might continue to be given by those who are able and ready to do so.
In 2011 Kingston resident Terry Hardy began a history project of St James Church.
Page last updated: 19 March 2021