St James's Church, Yarmouth

St James's Church, Yarmouth is a Grade II* listed building with a long history. The present church dates from the early seventeenth century but it was "considerably improved" in the early 1830s when, for example, the upper part of the tower and the west gallery were added by Daniel Alexander (1786-1849) — the former at least at his own expense, partly to make it visible as a seamark, and partly in memory of his third son Henry (see Peach, and "St James' Church"). It also underwent "extensive alterations" in 1875, 1889 (when John Colson & Son extended the chancel, reinserting the east window) and 1895. There was more work in the twentieth century. The church stands on St James's Street, and its tower, as Alexander had intended, can be seen from all around.


Left: View eastwards though the nave. Right: View of the chancel.

To the left of the nave can be seen the Caen stone pulpit of 1873: "circular, with open trefoil arches" (see Lloyd and Pevsner 305). The sculptor of this, and the Caen stone font of the same date, is not known. The beautiful six-light window is by Charles Alexander Gibbs (1825-1877): please follow the link for more details. The other windows in the church are also Victorian, and fine examples of the work of James Powell & Sons.

The two side chapels. Left: The Lady Chapel. Right: The Holmes Chapel.

The little Lady Chapel is at the end of the north aisle, and this has the wooden altar which was in use during the Victorian period, with a copy of Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch. The Holmes chapel is a mortuary chapel for Admiral Sir Robert Holmes, who was the island's governor in the later seventeenth century, and whose elaborately housed statue is shown here. More interesting for scholars of the Victorian period is a marble memorial plaque in the south aisle to Alexander: the architect and several members of his family are buried here, although he had moved from Yarmouth to Exeter in 1838. Ass so often in a parish church, there is much else for local historians in St James's, but something too for those with an interest in the nineteenth century.

View westwards, showing Alexander's west gallery.

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2017. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer or source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Related Material


Lloyd, David W., and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006.

"Parish Church of St James: Yarmouth." British Listed Buildings. Web. 7 November 2017.

Peach, Annette. "Alexander, Daniel Asher (1768–1846)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 7 November 2017.

"St James' Church, Yarmouth." Small booklet available in the church.

Created 7 November 2017