James Cubitt’s family came from Norfolk and was not related to the civil engineering family of Cubitts. His father was a Baptist minister who taught at Spurgeon’s Pastor’s College. Cubitt was articled to Isaac Charles Gilbert in Nottingham in 1851-56 and therafter worked for W.W. Pocock who had a large practice of Wesleyan commissions. Cubitt’s early practice from 1862 relied on contacts made via his father and Spurgeon. In 1868 he formed a partnership with Henry Fuller who was an already established designer of chapels.
Cubitt is also known for having published various books on the design of chapels. He produced ‘Church Designs for Congregations’ in 1870 and ‘Nonconformist Church Building’ in 1892 in which he argued for central plan designs avoiding the use of pillars, adapting Gothic styles by reference to both classical and basilican architecture. Much of what he wrote appeared initially in ‘The Building News’. Cubitt’s progressive ideas about the design of chapels would have influenced all those who worked for him.