CumbriaWHITEHAVENStJames(stanleywalkerCC-BY-SA2.0)1 StanleyWalker

St James

A fine example of a Georgian church, built in 1752-1753.

Whitehaven, Cumbria

Opening times

The church is open daily from 9am to 4pm.


High Street
CA28 7PY

The church was built 1752-1753 to a design by Carlisle Spedding, Lord Lowther’s Colliery Agent (who later died from burns in a mine accident).

The altar picture was one of a set of 13 by Procaccini, and depicts The Transfiguration. The set were originally delivered to a Spanish family, and were stolen by Napoleonic troops. The stucco ceiling roundels were original, but were given the present colour scheme in thorough cleaning in 1970.

The pulpit was originally three decker and stood where the altar is now, reaching balcony height. One deck was removed in 1865, and it was moved to its current location in 1886, then lowered in 1979. The other deck and the rest of the staircase are on the south gallery. The original galleries remain, which contain examples of the original box pews. The font of Florentine marble dates from 1650 and was presented to the church in 1876.

The Memorial Chapel was created as the parish war memorial in 1921 but is now also a memorial to the 1947 William Pit Disaster, and the glass above the altar is a memorial to the 9/11 terrorist acts in New York. The high altar is a symbol of the unification of the four former parishes. The previous ornate 1872 St James altar is on the south gallery, the original altar vanished after 1872.

Our first, 1818, organ was in the west gallery. The current Fr Willis/Norman & Beard organ was installed in 1909. Until 1978 we had but a single bell this was recast in 1978 when another seven bells were installed from the redundant St Alkmund, Derby, with a further two added in 1998 to complete our fine peal of twelve bells.

Our fine collection of stained glass includes examples by William Wailes, Abbot’s and Shrigley & Hunt (see the information cards on each windowsill) and don’t miss our fine Millennium window at the back on the left hand side of church. As you leave don’t miss the main glass entrance doors which are full of Sri Lankan symbolism in memory of a former priest of this parish from that country.

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Dog friendly

  • Level access to the main areas

  • On street parking at church

  • Parking within 250m

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Church of England

  • Repair Grant, £10,000, 2009

  • Our Repair Grants funded urgent repair work to help keep churches open.

  • Gateway Grant, £5,000, 2021

  • Repointing and repainting exterior.

  • Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant, £5,000, 2021

  • Re-pointing and repainting exterior.

Contact information

CumbriaWHITEHAVENStJames(stanleywalkerCC-BY-SA2.0)1 StanleyWalker

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Other nearby churches

St Nicholas

Whitehaven, Cumbria

Known affectionately as 'The Old Church' St Nicholas was built in 1693, the first place of worship what was then the fishing village of St Bees.