A Showcase of Architecture and Decoration
St James the Less is modest in scale but shows high Victorian ideals of decoration and architecture. It is built and decorated in a Gothic Revival style, which was very popular at the time. Gothic Revival was inspired by the craftsmanship and rich interiors of the medieval period.
The architect of the church, William Swinden Barber, was asked to design a building reminiscent of the late 13th century with ‘no great elaboration of detail’ and ‘a simplicity of outline in the leading features’. Gothic Revival was the main artistic movement of the 19th century. It was a reaction against the changes brought to society by the industrial revolution and mass manufacturing. The perception was that industrialisation alienated the craftsman from his material. In contrast, Gothic Revival offered a seductive and romantic view of the middle ages, where medieval craftsmen were creatively connected to their crafts.