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James, Great Yarmouth
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Great Yarmouth (old church)
This huge barn of a church stands out on the corner of Queens Road in the south of the Borough, not far from the landmarks of the St Nicholas Hospital and the former gasworks. It was erected in 1878, and is so close to the other 19th century churches of St Peter and St John that it is hard to think that a church of this size was ever really needed, and you can't help wondering if some kind of turf war was going on between the various Anglican traditions in Great Yarmouth at that time. The materials are red brick and flint, and the architect was JP Seddon. A tower was planned on the northern side, but the money ran out. Interestingly, there was an earlier plan for the church, also by Seddon, in the 1860s, which would have seen a three-gabled west end in the style of the parish church of St Nicholas on the market place, but it also was never built. There were originally transepts here, but they were removed in 1908. The north side of the church is rather incoherent in comparison with the sheer face of the east end. The well-worked north entrance with its red brick orders and wrought ironworked doors, the sombre and impressive bell turret above, the broken line of nave aisle and chancel aisle, are all good enough in their way but they do not work together.
Bill Wilson, in the revised Pevsner, describes the interior as huge even in its reduced form... one can hardly take it in from one spot. Sadly, it is not possible to test this judgement today because St James was declared redundant in 1999, and after lying empty for six years it was taken over by the Bridge Trust and divided up inside for office and work space for the St James Health and Resource Centre for Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services.
Simon Knott, December 2010
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