The parish was established in 1883 when it was known as the Grosvenor Mission. On the 25 July 1885, The Feast of St. James the Apostle, Cardinal Manning Archbishop of Westminster opened the present St. James’s Church.
The church building was paid for by James de Lacy Towle, hence the dedication to his patron saint. He was a convert to Catholicism.
The exiled King Manuel II of Portugal and his wife were regular worshippers as were members of the French Royal Family. King Manuel donated a number of items to the church during his lifetime including a ciborium, a set of silver cruets and a baptismal conch. After King Manuel’s death in 1932, his widow, Queen Augusta, donated the King’s private organ which was placed in the old choir loft. It was partially dismantled in the 1980s.
The church was consecrated in July 1887. Six years later St. James School was opened in Grosvenor Road where it remained until its transfer to Fortescue Road. St Catherine’s School was opened in 1914. The 125th anniversary of the church was celebrated in July 2010 by Archbishop Vincent Nichols. (see above.) St Richard Reynolds Secondary School was opened in 2013.