History of St James'

St.James', Stonehaven 



Architectural Note


The Church of St James the Great, Stonehaven is a Grade 1 listed building.


The narthex and baptistery were designed by Arther Clyne and were consecrated in 1906. The baptistery stained glass windows were designed by Sir Nunian Comper in 1929 and honour St Nathalan, St David of Scotland, John the Baptist, St Francesca and St Kieran.


The nave was built by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson in 1877. Its style is Norman, passing into early English of the eleventh century. It is 22.25 metres long, 14.6 metres wide and more than 12 metres high, with massive stone pillars each side supporting five arcaded arches, each topped at clerestory level by a Norman window and revealing another Norman window in the aisle beyond. The roof is open and bound with transverse redwood spars and supports.


The great west window commemorates the incumbency of The Very Rev William Leslie Christie. The upper part depicts our Saviour's baptism by St John the Baptist and the lower shows the baptism of babies by the Rev Alexander Greig while he was imprisoned in the toolbooth.


The pulpit of Caen stone was designed by Arthur Clyne of Aberdeen and carved under the superintendence of James Bremner of Brought Ferry. Octagonal in shape, the pulpit has boldly relieved moulding above the base course, giving way to a course of richly carved foliage below a course, of five panels with finely carved heads. These heads (looking left and right) represent:


(i)                    St Ninian, 397-432, Bishop of Candidacasa;

(ii)                  St David, King of Scotland 1124-1153;

(iii)                John Sinclair, last bishop of Brechin before the Reformation 1565-1566;

(iv)                 Alexander Jolly, Bishop of Myoray 1798-1838;

(v)                   Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin 1847-1875.


The green marble balls at the angle of the panels above and below come from Egypt and the red from Victoria in South Africa.


On the opposite side of the nave is the lectern and the marble font which is one of the earliest stone fonts in the Episcopal Church having come originally from St John's Chapel, Golden Square, Aberdeen.


The chancel was added in 1885 and is apsidal in form (having a semicircular end): 10.7, metres long, 10.7 metres high and 6.4 metres wide. Encircling the apse 3 metres from the floor are seven lancet windows with boldly splayed stone reveals and glazed lead quarry lights. The curved ceiling of the chancel has narrow horizontal linings, rig mouldings and moulded cornice formed of St Petersburg pinewood. The organ chamber measures 4.6 metres by 3.4 metres and is 6.4 metres high, being lit by two Norman windows and lined with narrow varnished pine.


The high altar has an elaborately sculptured reredos by Gambier-Perry of London. The altar is in Corsham stone, divided into five trefoil arches supported by columns of Devonshire stone, with five alabaster figures depicting St Andrews, St Peter, our Saviour, St James and St John.


Notes are extracted from the booklet by Charles Cleall:
'Walking round the Church of St James the Great Stonehaven'