The building of the church began during the winter of 1927/28 with the generosity of Sir James Knott, a wealthy ship merchant. The church was built in memory of two of Sir James’ sons Henry (Basil) and James who were killed in the First World War.
The church was designed by Edward Eric Lofting, Assistant Surveyor to the fabric of Westminster Abbey, who had been a pupil and assistant of Temple Lushington Moore (one of the leading church architects of late Victorian and Edwardian England). It is thought of as amongst the great churches of the Arts and Crafts movement and is recognised as a masterpiece.
The church took over three years to build, partly because the foundations were laid so thoroughly that it took one year for any sign of building appeared over the barricades but it was finally ready for consecration by June 1931. The church is grade II listed and said to be built with stone from Dobson’s 1830 Newcastle prison, in Carliol Square, demolished at that time. It is faced however with stone quarried from nearby Kenton. For further information see the guides available in the church or read a short guide here (1.24MB). The guide books published by Newcastle Community Heritage for the Church are also available in the Church and are for Adults (750kB) and Children (2 pages (341kB) / 4 pages (560kB)).
As part of the 75th Anniversary of St James and St Basil’s in 2006, the memories of a generation who had been very young as the church was built and who had grown up within it’s shadow have been recorded. Many of those who have recalled events and people for us are now in their 70’s and 80’s and to read their tales is an insight into local history. Please read more about the interesting history of St. James’ and St. Basil’s church and Fenham in the books available in the church, and in this book of memories (1.71MB) published by Newcastle Community Heritage.
We have made some historical documents available for you to browse. Please visit the Historical Documents page to view them.