The History of St James The Great
Previously, a Norman Chapel stood on this site, probably resembling the chapel which now stands in the churchyard in Prestbury. The walls of the nave were built of limestone in 1430 and the chancel and tower of pink sandstone in 1480. The splendid nave roof, barrel beam in design and unique in this Diocese, is five hundred years old and shows traces of its original brilliant colouring and gilt. The chancel roof is arch camber beam in construction and has rare panelled sections with tie beams. This was never painted but this and the nave roof are of exceptional beauty of design and in excellent condition.
The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the aumbry to the right of the altar. It is kept there for use in administering Holy Communion to people who are sick or are unable to come to the church, and to remind us of the ever constant presence of our Blessed Lord through the most Holy Sacrament of the altar.
The choir screen occupies the site of the original rood screen and was erected in 1893 to replace a similar medieval screen which had been destroyed. The cross and figures over the screen were added in 1978.
The Story of the Rood
Rood-screens were so-called because they supported the rood, that is a representation of Christ on the cross. When Hilda Littler carved the Gawsworth rood, she did not follow the model familiar for the last five hundred years but went back to the pattern of the earliest surviving crucifixes. Instead of the dead body we see the sturdy figure of the living Jesus consciously offering the one oblation of himself. She has represented Mary the Mother of Jesus showing the sorrow of every mother who mourns the death of her child.
Hilda Littler studied at Liverpool Art School, the Slade and the Royal Academy. She has exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. The cross was redesigned by Donald Buttress, now the surveyor of the fabric of Westminster Abbey, and made by Ken Peacock of Manchester University School of Architecture. It incorporates the cross given by Herbert Edward Polehampton, Rector of Gawsworth 1904-25