St. James Architectural Features & History
St. James is a Church of England Parish Church in Gatley. In 2011 the building was listed and noted for its 'imaginative eclectic Gothic design'. St. James was built to the designs of highly regarded Manchester architects James Medland and Henry Taylor between 1880 and 1881. The building embodies many of the design features for which these well-known Victorian ecclesiastical architects were noteworthy such as the internal polychromatic brickwork to arches and voussoirs, their use of terracotta, buff sandstone and encaustic tiling and various other design and material choices which also include the striking 'Germanic' tower with saddleback roof at the west end. St. James is also unusual for its elongated polygonal baptistery and the fine timber and plastered nave and chancel roofs which is also of a highly individual double-canted design.
In the church's pictorial history, published in 1981 to commemorate the centenary of the consecration of St. James, local historians Frank and Teretta Mitchell record that the brickwork was sourced from Pymgate Brickworks which operated on Styal Road, on the boundary of the parish.
The church was first furnished with chairs until c 1888, after which the present oak pews were progressively installed. A carved stone font was bought with 3,000 pennies collected by the local children in 1880-1 and a badly needed choir vestry was added at the north east corner of the church in 1904.
The original pierced stone pulpit was replaced by the present wooden pulpit of 1964, and in 1971 a new organ installed at the east end replacing that at the west end of the nave over the baptistery.
The Church is significant to the community as it stands at the heart of Gatley village overlooking and next to the village green and civic war memorial. The parish church also serves a wider population of 9,000 people many of whom work locally or commute to Manchester or Stockport.