St James's Church - Piccadilly, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.508 W 000° 08.207
30U E 698688 N 5710257
Quick Description: This is a church that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and consecrated in 1684.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 8/12/2012 6:48:59 AM
Waymark Code: WMF2N0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 8

Long Description:

One of the boards outside the church entrance, in Jermyn Street, reads:

"Welcome to St James's

If you are a visitor to London, you will not want to miss the opportunity of seeing one of London's most beautiful churches.

Designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren, St James's was consecrated in 1684. The church, which witnessed the baptism of the poet and visionary painter, William Blake, has a colourful history and literary allusions are frequent, notably in the works of Evelyn, Defoe and Vanbrugh. It has a fine musical tradition and is popular for weddings and memorial services.

The building was severely damaged by enemy bombs during the Second World War. Restoration work was completed in 1954 and the church's most striking original features survive, namely the carvings around the altar, the organ case and marble font, all fashioned by Grinling Gibbons.

St James's is an international centre of Christian ministry and the church attracts visitors from all over the world while continuing to offer spiritual nourishment to those who live and work in the area. St James's flourishes as a place for prayer and celebration, a centre for healing. a forum for the arts and a platform for public debate on issues of public importance.

All are welcome to experience and share this vision either by attending the regular services or through participation in our extensive programme of activities."

The church is a Grade I listed building and its entry at the English Heritage website (visit link) reads:

"Church of St James's 24.2.58 Piccadilly GV I Parish church, 1676-84 by Sir Christopher Wren. A large church of red brick with Portland dressings restored after war damage (1947-54). West tower in front of West end, the spire originally added 1699-1700, destroyed in war and rebuilt 1968 by Sir Albert Richardson. North and south lobbies of 1856. 2 tiers of segment-headed and semi- circular arched upper windows to sides. Doric porch. East end has broad tripartite window with Venetian windowZ set over it. The interior spacious, with square pillars to gallery from which rise Corinthian columns to nave barrel vault, cut into by transverse aisle vaults. Low segmental arched reredos, carving by Grinling Gibbons. Fitting monuments, etc., new pews and light fittings. Built in connection with Lord St. Albans' development of the St. James's area, the interior layout according to Wren the most practical for Anglican purposes."

The British History website (visit link) contains a lengthy article about the church. The following is an extract:

"St. James's, Piccadilly), is in many ways the finest of the group of four closely similar churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren for building on large open sites, the others being St. Anne's, Soho, St. Andrew's by the Wardrobe, and St. Andrew's, Holborn. Wren's own regard was such that he singled out St. James's for description and commendation in his letter 'Upon the Building of National Churches'. (ref. 1) There he wrote: 'The Churches therefore must be large; but still, in our reformed Religion, it should seem vain to make a Parish-church larger, than that all who are present can both hear and see. The Romanists, indeed, may build larger Churches, it is enough if they hear the Murmer of the Mass, and see the Elevation of the Host, but ours are to be fitted for Auditories. I can hardly think it practicable to make a single Room so capacious, with Pews and Galleries, as to hold above 2,000 Persons, and all to hear the Service, and both to hear distinctly, and see the Preacher. I endeavoured to effect this, in building the Parish Church of St. James's, Westminster, which, I presume, is the most capacious, with these Qualifications, that hath yet been built; and yet at a solemn Time, when the Church was much crowded, I could not discern from a Gallery that 2,000 were present. In this Church I mention, though very broad, and the middle Nave arched up, yet there are no Walls of a second Order, nor Lanterns, nor Buttresses, but the whole Roof rests upon the Pillars, as do also the Galleries; I think it may be found beautiful and convenient, and as such, the cheapest of any Form I could invent.'

The development of St. James's Square and its environs after the Restoration, together with the increase of building in other parts of the Bailiwick of St. James, created a need for extra church accommodation within the parish of St. Martin in the Fields. Earlier in the seventeenth century a similar expansion had taken place in the east region of the parish, on the Bedford estate, and the church of St. Paul, Covent Garden, had been erected to meet the needs of the new suburb. The scheme for erecting new churches in the bailiwick was slow in coming to fruition, but eventually two were erected, St. James's, Piccadilly, consecrated in 1684, and St. Anne's, Soho, consecrated in 1686.

The impetus for building a new church and making a separate parish out of that of St. Martin in the Fields to serve the suburb of St. James's seems to have come initially from the inhabitants of the bailiwick. The first petition which they submitted to the House of Commons for a Bill for this purpose was in 1664, but it was rejected, and the Earl of St. Albans ultimately met the larger part of the cost of the church.

Some time before 1674, a site for the church, together with a churchyard and minister's house, between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street, was offered by the Earl of St. Albans, on leasehold land held by him as part of the Bailiwick of St. James, but until the freehold interest was obtained the church could not be consecrated. In 1674, ten years after the inhabitants first petitioned for a new church, the Earl applied to the Crown for a grant of the freehold of the site, but the grant was not made until ten years later, shortly before the church was consecrated in 1684."

City, State or City, Country: London, United Kingdom

Year Built: 1684

Architect: Christopher Wren

Webpage from or other approved listing: [Web Link]

Other website with more information about building: [Web Link]

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