St James's Church, Reading

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St James's Church
St James Catholic Church - - 1092598.jpg
St James's Church, seen from Forbury Gardens
St James's Church is located in Reading Central
St James's Church
St James's Church
Location within Reading Town Centre
51°27′25.48″N 0°57′55.13″W / 51.4570778°N 0.9653139°W / 51.4570778; -0.9653139Coordinates: 51°27′25.48″N 0°57′55.13″W / 51.4570778°N 0.9653139°W / 51.4570778; -0.9653139
Location Reading
Country England
Denomination Roman Catholic
Founded 1840
Dedication St James
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II[1]
Architect(s) A. W. N. Pugin
Diocese Portsmouth

St James's Church is a Roman Catholic church situated in the centre of the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. It is located adjacent to the remaining ruins of Reading Abbey, between the Forbury Gardens and Reading Gaol.

The church was built on a portion of the site of Reading Abbey. Its founder was James Wheble, who owned land in the area at that time. The church was designed by the architect A. W. N. Pugin and is sometimes claimed as his first church design although the neo-Gothic St Mary's Church, in Derby, was designed at the same time. The style is Norman, a style not normally associated with Pugin, and was probably influenced by the proximity of the Abbey ruins. The exterior of the building is of flint, with ashlar dressings and a Roman tile roof. Construction started in 1837 and the church opened on 5 August 1840. In 1925, the south aisle and the ambulatory round the apse were added. In 1962, the church was further extended by a north aisle into which was relocated the baptistery. The church is a Grade II listed building.[2][3]

St James's Church, along with St William of York's Church, forms a joint parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.[4] The current parish priest (since February 2010) is Canon John O'Shea. Sunday masses are well-attended often with standing room only; the parish boasts a large number of nationalities among its regular congregation.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster from 2000 to 2009, was baptised in St James's and served at the altar there regularly as a boy.


  1. ^ "Church of St James', Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "St James Church - A guide for Visitors" (PDF). Roman Catholic Parish of St James & St William of York, Reading. Retrieved 24 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "Images of England - Church of St James, Forbury Road, Reading". English Heritage. Retrieved 24 December 2007. 
  4. ^ "Welcome". Roman Catholic Parish of St James & St William of York, Reading. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Reformation, Revolution and Rebirth: The Story of the Return of Catholicism to Reading and the Founding of St James' Parish, John Mullaney and Lindsay Mullaney, Scallop Shell Press, 2012.

External links[edit]