St James's Church, Piccadilly

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St James's Church, Piccadilly
Church of St Jamess Piccadilly 2 (5123798865).jpg
The Church in 2011
51°30′31″N0°8′12″W / 51.50861°N 0.13667°W / 51.50861; -0.13667 Coordinates: 51°30′31″N0°8′12″W / 51.50861°N 0.13667°W / 51.50861; -0.13667
Location Piccadilly, London
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Liberal
Dedicated13 July 1684
Heritage designationGrade I
Architect(s) Christopher Wren
Diocese Diocese of London
Rector The Revd Lucy Winkett
Curate(s) The Revd Lindsay Meader
NSM(s) The Revd Hugh Valentine
The Revd Ivan Khovacs
Churchwarden(s) Deborah Colvin and Trevor Lines
View looking southeast from the tower, showing many of the landmarks of London. Tower view 2013.jpg
View looking southeast from the tower, showing many of the landmarks of London.

St James's Church, Piccadilly, also known as St James's Church, Westminster, and St James-in-the-Fields, is an Anglican church on Piccadilly in the centre of London, United Kingdom. The church was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren.

Piccadilly road in the City of Westminster, London, England

Piccadilly is a road in the City of Westminster, London to the south of Mayfair, between Hyde Park Corner in the west and Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is part of the A4 road that connects central London to Hammersmith, Earl's Court, Heathrow Airport and the M4 motorway westward. St James's is to the south of the eastern section, while the western section is built up only on the northern side. Piccadilly is just under 1 mile (1.6 km) in length, and is one of the widest and straightest streets in central London.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Christopher Wren English architect

Sir Christopher Wren PRS FRS was an English anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including what is regarded as his masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710.


The church is built of red brick with Portland stone dressings. Its interior has galleries on three sides supported by square pillars and the nave has a barrel vault supported by Corinthian columns. The carved marble font and limewood reredos are both notable examples of the work of Grinling Gibbons. In 1902, an outside pulpit was erected on the north wall of the church. It was designed by Temple Moore and carved by Laurence Arthur Turner. It was damaged in 1940, but restored at the same time as the rest of the fabric. [1]

Brick Block or a single unit of a ceramic material used in masonry construction

A brick is building material used to make walls, pavements and other elements in masonry construction. Traditionally, the term brick referred to a unit composed of clay, but it is now used to denote any rectangular units laid in mortar. A brick can be composed of clay-bearing soil, sand, and lime, or concrete materials. Bricks are produced in numerous classes, types, materials, and sizes which vary with region and time period, and are produced in bulk quantities. Two basic categories of bricks are fired and non-fired bricks.

Portland stone Limestone quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England

Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major public buildings in London such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Portland stone is also exported to many countries—being used for example in the United Nations headquarters building in New York City.

Barrel vault

A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design. The barrel vault is the simplest form of a vault: effectively a series of arches placed side by side. It is a form of barrel roof.

The external pulpit. The external pulpit of St James's Church, Piccadilly.jpg
The external pulpit.


Like many central London churches surrounded by commercial buildings and ever fewer local people, St James’s lost numbers and momentum in the 1960s and 1970s. When, in 1980, Donald Reeves was offered the post of rector, the bishop allegedly said "I don’t mind what you do, just keep it open."[ citation needed ] During that decade and most of the 1990s numbers and activity grew, the clergy and congregation gaining a reputation for being a progressive, liberal and campaigning church. That has continued. The "congregation" rejects that description and prefers "community". It is centred on the Eucharist, the celebration of the principal Christian sacrament. It finds expression in a wide range of interest groups: spiritual explorers, labyrinth walking, Julian prayer meetings, the Vagabonds group (a lively discussion group which takes its name from a William Blake poem and in faithfulness to that text meets in a local alehouse), a LGBT group and many others. The community has actively supported, and supports, the ordination of women to all the orders of the church, the just treatment of asylum seekers and those living in poverty. It celebrates what it regards as the "radical welcome" found in the heart of the Gospels and attested to by the Incarnation.

A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader. The term comes from the Latin for the helmsman of a ship.

Liberal Christianity Wikimedia disambiguation page

Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, covers diverse philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century onward. Liberal does not refer to progressive Christianity or to political liberalism but to the philosophical and religious thought that developed and grew as a consequence of the Enlightenment.


Concerts are regularly held in the church. [2] Concerts have included performances by popular contemporary musicians such as R.E.M., [3] the folk musician Laura Marling as part of her "church tour", [4] the collegiate Indian-American music group Penn Masala [5] and Devin Townsend on his 2015 UK acoustic tour. [6]

Laura Marling British folk singer-songwriter

Laura Beatrice Marling is a British folk singer-songwriter. She won the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2011 Brit Awards, and was nominated for the same award at the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Brit Awards.

Penn Masala

Penn Masala is an American a cappella group. It is the world's first and premier South Asian a cappella group. Formed in 1996 by students at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Masala's music has been influenced by the Eastern and Western cultures that represent the group's membership. The group was featured on the soundtrack of American Desi, and has released ten full-length albums: Awaaz, 11 PM, Soundcheck, The Brown Album, Pehchaan, On Detours, Panoramic, Kaavish, Resonance,Yuva, an EP titled Vol. 1 and the compilation album Out of Stock. The group has performed at the White House, the Indian Filmfare Awards, and for prominent leaders including Ban Ki-moon and Mukesh Ambani. The group also had a cameo role in Pitch Perfect 2, released in May 2015.

Devin Townsend Canadian musician

Devin Garrett Townsend is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He founded extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad and was its primary songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist from 1994 to 2007, and has an extensive career as a solo artist. After performing in a number of heavy metal bands in high school, Townsend was discovered by a record label in 1993 and asked to perform lead vocals on Steve Vai's album Sex & Religion. After recording and touring with Vai, Townsend was discouraged by what he found in the music industry, and vented his anger on the solo album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, released under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He soon assembled a band under the name, and released the critically acclaimed City in 1997. Since then, he has released three more studio albums with Strapping Young Lad, along with solo material released under his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records.

Outdoor art space

Replica section of the Israeli Security Wall, built in the church grounds, as part of the international protest against the Israeli wall. Israel Wall in London.JPG
Replica section of the Israeli Security Wall, built in the church grounds, as part of the international protest against the Israeli wall.

Hauser & Wirth, a contemporary art gallery, is running a programme of outdoor sculpture exhibitions in Southwood Garden in the grounds of the church. The first exhibition was of work by the Swiss sculptor Hans Josephsohn, running from September 2009 to January 2010. [7] Southwood Garden was created in the churchyard by Viscount Southwood after World War II as a garden of remembrance, "to commemorate the courage and fortitude of the people of London," and was opened by Queen Mary in 1946. [8]

Hauser & Wirth Art Gallery, Modern Art, Contemporary Art in Switzerland

Hauser & Wirth is a Swiss contemporary and modern art gallery.

Hans Josephsohn was a Swiss sculptor. He lived and worked in Zurich.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

From 23 December 2013 to 5 January 2014 the "Bethlehem Unwrapped" demonstration against the Israeli West Bank barrier featured an art installation by Justin Butcher, Geof Thompson, and Dean Willars, which included a large replica section of the wall. The installation blocked the view of the church, other than a section of the top of the tower, which was stated by church authorities to be part of the point of the demonstration.

Israeli West Bank barrier Wall separating Israel and West Bank

The Israeli West Bank barrier or wall is a separation barrier in the West Bank or along the Green Line. Israel considers it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall. At a total length of 708 kilometres (440 mi) upon completion, the border traced by the barrier is more than double the length of the Green Line, with 15% running along it or in Israel, while the remaining 85% cuts at times 18 kilometres (11 mi) deep into the West Bank, isolating about 9% of it, leaving an estimated 25,000 Palestinians isolated from the bulk of that territory.


The Piccadilly Market was established in 1981 and operates six days a week in the courtyard of St James's Church. Monday and Tuesday: Food Market, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Wednesday – Saturday: Arts and Craft Market, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.


Interior circa 1806 St James interior circa 1806 edited.jpg
Interior circa 1806
The Church interior on Easter Sunday 2016 St James Church Piccadilly Interior.jpg
The Church interior on Easter Sunday 2016 Easter Sunday 2016.jpg
The Church interior on Easter Sunday 2016

In 1662, Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, was granted land for residential development on what was then the outskirts of London. He set aside land for the building of a parish church and churchyard on the south side of what is now Piccadilly. Christopher Wren was appointed the architect in 1672 and the church was consecrated on 13 July 1684 by Henry Compton, the Bishop of London. In 1685 the parish of St James was created for the church.

The church was severely damaged by enemy action in 1940, during the Second World War. Works of restoration were designed by Sir Albert Richardson and carried out by Rattee and Kett. [9]

Notable vicars and other staff

Notable baptisms

St James's in 1815 St James's South and east fronts 1814 edited.jpg
St James's in 1815

Notable weddings

Notable burials

Notable memorials

Detached burial ground

St James's Gardens, shown west of Euston Station, on an 1890 Bacon Traveler's Pocket Map of London by George Washington Bacon 1890 Bacon Traveler's Pocket Map of London, England - Geographicus - London-bacon-1890 (cropped to show St James's Gardens, Camden).jpg
St James's Gardens, shown west of Euston Station, on an 1890 Bacon Traveler's Pocket Map of London by George Washington Bacon

A separate burial ground [15] of St James's Church was developed in Camden, [16] [17] in use from 1790 until 1853. [18] The cemetery became St James's Gardens in 1878 with only a few gravestones lining the edges of the park. [19] Part of the Gardens, located between Hampstead Road and Euston railway station, was built over when Euston station was expanded [20] in around 1887. To avoid public outcry, the affected remains were reinterred at St Pancras Cemetery. [21] The Gardens were closed to the public in 2017 [22] to allow the further expansion of Euston station for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project. [23] As of January 2019, archaeologists working on HS2 are excavating approximately 40,000 burials. [23] It is proposed to re-bury the remains, at a site to be decided, after they have been examined by osteo-archaeologists. [23]

Notable burials include:


See also

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  1. "History - St James's Church Piccadilly London". Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  2. Corinthian Chamber Orchestra One of the groups which gives concerts in the church Archived 11 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Evening Concerts Website detailing REM performance.
  4. Laura Marling unveils church tour details. NME reveals details of Laura Marling's church tour.
  5. "Penn Masala to Perform at Jorgensen, 12/3". Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  6. An Evening with Devin Townsend
  7. "Hauser & Wirth / St James's Church, Piccadilly". Glass Magazine. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  8. "The Churchyard". The Survey of London: about St James's Church Piccadilly. 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  9. "The Building - St James's Church Piccadilly London". Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  10. "England birth and christenings". Retrieved 2015-04-21.
  11. The Lost World of Francis Scott Key - By Sina Dubovoy
  12. Mayer, Dorothy Moulton. (1972) Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. 1741–1807. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe. pp. 57–63. ISBN   0900675683
  13. Robinson, John Robert (1895). 'Old Q': A Memoir of William Douglas, Fourth Duke of Queensberry, K.T., One of 'the Fathers of the Turf,' with a Full Account of His Celebrated Matches and Wagers, Etc (2nd ed.). London: Samson Low, Marston and Company, Limited. p. 249. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
  14. Barbara Brandon Schnorrenberg, "Montagu, Elizabeth (1718–1800)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds). Oxford: OUP, 2004.
  15. Location of St James's burial ground 51°31′43″N0°08′13″W / 51.52849°N 0.13702°W
  16. "St. James Church, Hampstead Road". Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & Neighbourhood. 1949. pp. 123–136. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  17. "Final resting place". Matthew Flinders Memorial. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  18. "HS2 exhumations prompt memorial service". BBC News. 2017-08-23.
  19. "St. James' Gardens". London Cemeteries. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  20. "The body now lying under Platform 12 at Euston Station is ... | London My London | One-stop base to start exploring the most exciting city in the world". London My London. 2013-08-10. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  21. Jackson, Alan (1984) [1969]. London's Termini. David & Charles. p. 43. ISBN   0-330-02747-6.
  22. "St. James Gardens – A Casualty Of HS2" . Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  23. 1 2 3 4 Addley, Esther (24 January 2019). "Grave of Matthew Flinders discovered after 200 years near London station". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  24. 1 2 3 "Remains of Captain Matthew Flinders discovered at HS2 site in Euston". UK Government. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.