The Church is a Grade II listed building, first listed on 4th March 2010, List Entry Number: 1393698, National Grid Reference: TQ 21518 67685
1931-33 by JE Newberry and CW Fowler in a restrained Perpendicular manner typical of the inter-war churches designed by the practice. The church was damaged in an air raid in 1944 but was carefully restored by CW Fowler and work was completed in 1954. It was one of Southwark Diocese’s Twenty Five Churches, built at the inspiration of Dr CF Garbett.
MATERIALS: red brick with stone dressings and with slate roofs. The interior is faced in unpainted buff brick; the roof is of Columbian pine, fittings are of oak and pine.
PLAN: It has a five-bay, buttressed, aisled nave and two bay chancel with an apsidal buttressed sanctuary which has a shallow hipped roof, which throughout has plain oversailing eaves. Attached to the south side of the chancel by a narrow external link is a four-stage tower. At the west end of the nave are north and south porches. Opening off the chancel to the north is a two-bay chapel, expressed externally as a transept and lower eastern bay while, to the south, vestries fill the lower stages of the tower. A single-storey hipped-roofed priest’s vestry is attached to the east of the tower.
EXTERIOR: Aisle windows have five cusped lights under a wide cambered brick arch, while clerestory windows have three-light panel tracery. The seven-light west window with Perpendicular tracery is flanked by three-light aisle windows. North and south porches have pitched roofs behind gabletted parapets, and windows with brick mullions. Entrances are set back under four-centred brick arches and each has a pair of panelled doors. The tower is slightly battered, with very slightly set back buttresses, and a solid parapet. It is almost without embellishment except for the coping of the parapet which reflects the pointed arches of the bell chamber windows. The lower stage of the south face of the tower has a four-light window with brick mullions and transoms, above which is a stair window of three narrow vertical lights. Louvred bell chamber windows are of two cusped lights beneath a hoodmould. Windows on the vestry attached to the east of the tower have tall narrow window openings which echo those on the tower. Two-light clerestorey windows to the chancel are set high in the wall above a continuous moulded brick band, drawing light into the sanctuary from a high level in a manner similar to those at St Hilda, Crofton Park. A tall north transept projects slightly beyond the aisle and eastern bay of the Lady Chapel, and has a large five-light window with panel tracery while the east window of the chapel is of three lights with a tall cusped central panel.
INTERIOR: The interior is of unpainted buff brick. Arcades have quadrilateral piers with plain chamfered arrises, and slender wall shafts rising to carry a simple arcade above the clerestorey windows, a pattern repeated in the sanctuary. At the crossing, tall arches with multiple mouldings open onto the transept to the north and house the organ chamber to the south, while the arch to the Lady Chapel is set under a blind arcaded panel. Circulation at the east end continues through the Lady Chapel which opens onto the sanctuary and through a narrow ambulatory passage beneath the organ loft to the south, in a manner also similar to St Hilda Crofton Park. Aisle windows are set back under plain cambered arches and have red tile cills and mostly rectangular leaded lights. In contrast with the simplicity of the walls, the nave roof is scissor-braced, with exposed purlins, while the aisles have two tiers of purlins, each supported by kingposts with longitudinal braces. Nave and aisle floor are of Granwood blocks.
The interior retains most of its original finishes and fittings augmented by more recent donations such as memorial glass, statuary and Stations of the Cross. Fittings are of oak and pine and include doors, the pulpit and chancel seating, designed by Newberry. The nave retains its unusual original folding pews. The sanctuary and south chapel which opens off it are treated as one, with similar simple oak altar rails, and flooring. Sanctuary gates were installed in 1938. The reredos of filigree gilded cusped panels was designed in 1958 by JBS Comper, son of prominent church architect Sir Ninian Comper. The Brycesson pipe organ, built in the 1820s, suffered bomb damage in 1944 and after an interlude with a replacement organ, has been refurbished. The font which was also damaged in 1944 was restored with a later cover, to Fowler’s designs. Set into the west wall is a fragment of sculpted stone from Southwark Cathedral.
When JE Newberry retired, he wrote that he had designed some twenty churches, mostly in the diocese of Southwark. Many of these were commissioned by the Diocese of Southwark from the Twenty Five Churches Fund. The scheme was the inspiration of Dr CF Garbett, who was appointed Bishop of Southwark in 1919, and committed the diocese to building or enlarging twenty five churches in the London suburbs. The project was one of several prompted by Lloyd George’s ‘homes fit for heroes’ campaign to build new houses following the end of the First World War. The Fund closed in 1934, making St James, New Malden one of the last churches to be built under its auspices. However, church building within the Diocese continued until the early years of the Second World War.
JE Newberry (1862-1950) was articled to Edward Hide before going into partnership with FH Greenaway (1869 -1935) in 1904. The background of both architects reflected the rich diversity in later C19 church architecture. Newberry had built the mission church in Crofton Park in 1899 before designing, with Greenaway, the church of St Hilda in 1905-8, and which is considered to be one of the most notable Edwardian churches in London (Grade II), Their work in south London ranged from the enlargement of the mediaeval church at Plumstead in 1907-08 (Grade II), St Peter, Haydons Road, Wimbledon 1911-12 but which was not completed, St John the Baptist, Sutton, 1915, and finally, in 1926, under the Twenty Five churches scheme, St Mary, Sanderstead.
After Greenaway retired in 1927 Newberry went into partnership with CW Fowler. Many of their churches are built in a reduced Perpendicular manner, which developed from the Perpendicular style favoured at the turn of the century and was regarded as uncontroversial and well-suited to the newly built suburbs. Interiors are typically pared down, with unpainted brick walls, and slender arcades with simple chamfered arches. Churches by Newberry and Fowler in south London include St Paul, Furzedown (1926) and All Saints, East Sheen, completed in 1929, but which was repaired and reordered after a fire. Less altered is St John, Selsdon (1935-6) and according to Pevsner ‘a satisfying design’; St Francis of Assisi, West Wickham (1935-6) was never completed, while St John the Divine (1939) also in New Malden is a smaller and less imposing church than St James. In east London, St Martin’s, Dagenham (1931-2) stands as an example of the restrained late Gothic inspired work of Newberry and Fowler.