The Church of St Philip and St James in Oxford is a lovely 19th-century parish church that today houses the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. The interior is not accessible without an appointment, but the exterior is worth a look if you're in the neighborhood.
History of the Church of St Philip and St James Church
St Philip and St James Church was built to serve the people of North Oxford, which began to be settled in the early 1800s. At that time, the closest parish church was St Giles.
Construction began on May 1, 1860, with the laying of the foundation stone by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. The church was designed by G.E. Street, the Diocesan architect, and built by Joseph Castle.
The church was consecrated on Thursday, May 8, 1862. The bishop of Oxford and members of the clergy met in a nearby house and formed a procession to the church, where they were received at the west door by the vicar and church-wardens. The sentences of consecration were read by Mr. John M. Davenport, Clerk of the Peace.
Due to declining church attendance in the 20th century, the parish of St Philip and St James joined with the parish of St Margaret in 1976; the Church of St Philip and St James was finally declared redundant in 1982.
Today, the church houses the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, a university department for Christian scholars and missionaries, but the interior retains all the original church furnishings.
What to See at the Church of St Philip and St James Church
The 19th-century Church of St Philip and St James is Gothic in style and has the traditional cruciform shape. The tower has two open lancet lights on each side, to which four clocks were added to the tower in 1896. Although the tower projects strength, it cannot support a set of bells.
The interior consists of a broad nave four bays long, flanked by two small aisles. The columns are made of Aberdeen granite and are topped with capitals carved with foliage and small figures. The floor is laid with tiles that continue up the walls of the apse.
The south transept houses the Mary Chapel, which is separated from the Chancel by a carved oak screen. The altar and fittings were provided by members of the congregation named Mary. On the north side of the nave is the little Advent Chapel (1905), which is used for memorial services.
The reredos dates from 1862 and was designed by the architect G.E. Street. Originally it consisted of three panels, with figures of St. Philip and St. James on the side panels and Christ in Gethsemane with two sleeping disciples in the middle. It was considerably altered in 1884: the center panel was raised up and the background was filled in with carvings from a print of Albert Durer. On the left Judas and the soldiers enter the Garden, behind them is a glimpse of Jerusalem. Above the altar is a Latin verse: "By Thy agony and bloody sweat, Good Lord Deliver us."
Quick Facts on the Church of St Philip and St James Church
|Names:||Church of St Philip and St James · Church of St Philip and St James Church · St. Philip and St. James Church|
|Categories:||churches; parish churches; Grade I listed buildings|
|Styles:||Gothic Revival style|
|Dedication:||St. Philip, St. James|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.764386° N, 1.263905° W|
|Hours:||Not open to the public without an appointment|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Church of St Philip and St James Church|
- Personal visits (May 2007)
- History of St Philip and St James Church - Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
- The history of the parish - St Margaret's Church
- Church of St Philip and St James Church, Oxford - Go Historic
- Photos of the Church of St Philip and St James Church - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Church of St Philip and St James Church, Oxford
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Church of St Philip and St James Church. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.