St James’ was built in 1883 to a design by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson FRSE RSA (1834-1921), in the Gothic style. Other Edinburgh buildings designed by him are University of Edinburgh Medical Faculty & the  McEwan Hall. He is buried in nearby Warriston Cemetery.

The Church opened in 1888. By that stage it had cost £3500, and with funds used up, no tower or spire were ever built.

The contemporary sketch below shows the finished building. At the rear of the church, corner stones can be seen jutting out like broken teeth, still waiting for the building to be finished to its full length!

One of St James’ most energetic Rectors, Rev Charles Jenkins (Rector from 1892-1917), established a mission congregation in a rented hall at Canonmills in 1895. In 1909 this new congregation built their own church, St Philip’s, at the corner of Logie Green Road and Broughton Road, and thus Jenkins presided over the joint charge, ‘St Philip’s and St. James’.

St Philip’s Church, and the hall beneath, are now rented on a long leases to other groups, but the charge retains its formal name ‘St Philip’s and St James’.

St James’ contains a number of artistic gems, not least the murals in the chancel painted by William Hole R. S. A. and stained glass by James Ballantine and Son.