Charles Eastlake, in writing A History of the Gothic Revival, said of St James-the-Less, Westminster:
Here the whole character of the building, whether we regard its plan, its distinctive features, its external or internal decoration is eminently un-English.
No one British building by George Edmund Street displays such an amount of Continental influence, and it can be regarded as representing the high water mark of Street’s adaptation and incorporation of features and forms derived from Continental precedents.
In September 1850, only eight years before work started on St James-the-Less, Street had crossed the English Channel for the first time. In ten days he saw Paris, Chartres, Alenҫon, Caen, Rouen and Amiens, and developed an enthusiasm for foreign travel which he retained throughout his life. Thereafter his annual tours were always well planned and hastily conducted, a great number of buildings being seen in a very short time. Thus each year Street would go, ‘sketchbook in hand, with some ancient town or thrice noble cathedral set before him as his goal’.