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.
The murals and decorative paintwork were the work of Powell Bros. of Leeds. They were renowned in the region for their decoration of churches and stained glass.
Many of the original items used in the church were either gifts from friends of the Mackies or were paid for by public subscription. The Parish Church of St George now cares for the surviving
objects. This lectern is one of a number of items made by Jones and Willis of Birmingham.
The church was built by local craftsmen, Thomas Stafford (stonemason) and Joseph Hudson (joiner). They were highly respected by the architect for their workmanship.
The stained glass windows, the great treasures of the church, came from the internationally famous studio of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907).