Background Shape

The Church Building

The information on this page is taken, with grateful acknowledgement, from the Survey of London – recording the history of London’s built environment since 1894

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Wren’s stated view

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’. 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.’

In April 1664 the inhabitants petitioned the House of Commons that theirs might become separate parish from that of St Martin in the Fields, and have its own church. Leave was granted to Edmund Waller, who lived in St James’s Street, to bring in a Bill, but neither this nor another Bill for the same purpose which was considered in November 1664 proceeded further than the second reading stage. Other Bills introduced in 1668 and 1670 were equally unsuccessful, the chief opponents being the incumbent of St Martin’s, and members of the vestry of the parish of St Martin in the Fields.

The need for a new church

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.

Site offered

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.

The Building of the Church

The foundation stone was laid on 3 April 1676 (ref. 5) by the Earl of St Albans and the Bishop of London and in Robert Hooke’s Diary for this date is an entry — ‘St Albans Cornerstone layd’— which presumably refers to the event. This evidence about the date at which the church was begun is supported by the fact that in 1677 John Cock, plumber, was asked to perform the lead work for the church, rectory and steeple, and claimed later that he had done work to the value of about £900 in 1677, 1682, 1686 and 1687. (ref. 7) His work in 1677 may have been concerned with the City water pipes which ran through the churchyard; it certainly could not have been concerned with the roof.

The lack of information about the building of St James’s Church in the vestry minutes of St Martin’s suggests that the Earl of St Albans, as the principal subscriber to the cost of its erection, handled the business privately. The choice of architect was presumably his, although Sir Christopher Wren was known to the vestrymen of St Martin’s, who had consulted him in 1672 (ref 8). Wren had already met the Earl, to whom he had been given a letter of introduction when he visited France in 1665, and St Albans ‘had us’d him with all Kindness and Indulgence imaginable’ (ref. 9). Wren had more scope on this site between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street than he had on the more circumscribed sites in the City, and it is clear from the passage quoted above that he considered that in St. James’s he had found the ideal solution to the problem of erecting a church accommodating the largest number of persons, and yet enabling them all to hear the service and see the preacher.

The architect’s drawings which survive consist of a site plan, a ground plan of the church, with a tower at the west end and a principal entrance on the south side, a drawing of the east elevation, and a design for a tower with a dome.

The first three are by various unknown hands but the fourth is most probably by Robert Hooke. Accounts for the building have not survived, and of the workmen employed the names of only four are certain: Hobson, bricklayer, (ref. 10) Stor(e)y (presumably Abraham) and John Barratt, partners, masons, (ref. 11) and John Cock, plumber (ref. 12). Others of whose employment there is no proof, but strong circumstantial evidence, include: Cleare, joiner, (ref. 13) Anthony Hart, senior, bricklayer, (ref. 14) Richard Hayburne, carpenter, (ref. 15) and Jonathan Wil(l)cox, carpenter. Story and Wilcox both worked under Wren in the City and so did Cleare, if he may be identified with William Cleer, joiner (ref. 16).

The cost of the project & the granting of the freehold

The cost of the body of the church was about £7000, a sum provided by the Earl of St Albans and the inhabitants of the future parish. (ref. 17) The Earl, whose beneficence was recorded by the carving of his arms on the keystone block over the west door, over the then north and south doors and on the plaster enrichments of the ceiling, died at the beginning of 1684, before the church was consecrated. Shortly before his death he had again petitioned the Crown for the freehold of the church site (ref. 18) and on 31 May 1684 the grant was made to his nephew, Thomas, Lord Jermyn (ref. 19). It included the site of the church, land for a churchyard to the north and west, the house and site where the rectory was later built, and houses and land in Piccadilly and Jermyn Street for the endowment of the living. On 13 July 1684 the Bishop of London went to Henry Jermyn’s house in St James’s Square where he received the title-deeds of the site from ‘Master Fowke’ (Martin Folkes), acting on behalf of Thomas, Lord Jermyn; he then went in solemn procession to the church for the consecration service (ref. 4).

For a year after its consecration the church was used as a chapel of ease to St Martin’s. Commissioners were appointed by Thomas, Lord Jermyn, and approved by the Bishop of London, to administer the church’s affairs during this period, (ref. 21) but certain necessities, such as communion wine, ale and ‘greens’ for the vestry room and a tin pot for watering the church, were provided by the churchwardens of St Martin’s (ref. 22). The vicar of St. Martin’s, Thomas Tenison, became the first rector of St James’s in 1685 (ref. 23).

Image Library

Interior 1857, with font in central aisle (from The Builder)

Christopher Wren’s Floor Plan

Victorian illustration

Postcard image showing interior prior to bombing

Organ at St James’s originally constructed for King James II

Map 1896

Interior pre bombing showing the traditional arrangement of choir stalls

19th century postcard

The Revd J E Kempe, 1810-1907

Act of 1685

The Act of 1685 established a select vestry and gave the parish powers to levy a rate over a period of four years in order to meet its obligations; these included the payment of part of the cost of building the church, the finishing of the steeple and the provision of a house for the rector (ref. 17). The period of four years was, however, to prove too short for the raising of the money, originally estimated at £2000, required to complete the building, (ref. 24) and the parish was soon in debt.

Sir Robert Gayre had been a generous benefactor (ref. 25) and in 1683 Henry Murrell of Duke Street, gentleman, had bequeathed £1000 towards finishing the building (ref. 26). Only £300 of this sum had been paid by Murrell’s executors by December 1685, and the churchwardens filed a petition in the Court of Chancery to try to obtain the rest. Murrell’s executors pleaded that the assets of the estate were not enough to meet its liabilities (ref. 27). The order of the Court has not survived, but two further sums of £200 and £194 were paid by the executors in 1686 and 1687 respectively (ref. 28).

The building of the steeple

The immediate task facing the newly constituted vestry in 1685 was the building of the steeple (the tower and spire). Wren’s plan for the church made provision for a tower at the west end and this had been started (ref. 27) but a considerable amount of work remained to be done before the spire could be erected. It was apparently intended to copy the design of the steeple at Halstead church in Essex, for one of the churchwardens, accompanied by Mr. Wilcox, was sent there in August 1685 to report on ‘the fittness and charge of it, to doe ye like here’ (ref. 30). A model of a steeple, probably designed by Wilcox, was approved in September (ref. 31) and work on carrying up the tower began shortly afterwards (ref. 32). In December, Sir Christopher Wren was approached for his directions ‘in the goeing on with and finishing the steeple’ and the workmen were ordered to carry out his instructions (ref. 33). It seems odd that Wren should be consulted at this late date, when the model probably designed by Wilcox had already been approved, and the vestry must have been justly discomfited when in January 1686 Wren attended a vestry meeting with his own ‘draft of a Spire’ (ref. 34) for which his draughtsman received £2 (ref. 35). As the elevations for the church and steeple have not survived it is not known whether this was Wren’s first or second design for a spire or what form it took; the drawing of a steeple in the Wren Society’s volume (ref. 36) is not dated and is probably by Robert Hooke (ref. 37).

In the event Wren’s design, estimated to cost £800 (ref. 34) was rejected in February 1686, and ‘the new Draft by Mr. Willcox’ approved (ref. 38). No drawing has survived, but contemporary references in the church records show that Wilcox’s design was for a tower with a stone cornice and battlement surmounted by a simple wooden, leadcovered spire, with a weathercock or vane on top of a copper ball.

‘Mr. Willcox’ was almost certainly Jonathan Wilcox, the carpenter employed at St Vedast’s, Foster Lane (ref. 39). In 1674 he worked at St Martin in the Fields (ref. 40) and was employed by the vestry of St James in 1685 to build the rectory and to make a map of the parish (ref. 41). Between these two dates he was probably employed on some of the carpenter’s work in the body of the church. He would have been a far more likely choice as the designer of the spire than his son Edward, but his claim has been obscured by the fact that the latter was employed in erecting the first spire and was asked to design the second spire which was put up in 1700 (see below). Jonathan Wilcox died in April 1687 and left all his instruments for drawing and his drawing books to his son Edward (ref. 42).

After the approval of the design, estimates for the carpenter’s, smith’s and plumber’s work on the spire, amounting to £703 12s. 1d., were agreed in the same month, February 1686 (ref. 43). The brick and stone work of the tower, i.e., up to cornice level, was completed in April (ref. 44) and in May the workmen employed in this last phase of building (Edward Wilcox, carpenter, John Barratt, mason, Anthony Hart, bricklayer, and Paul Winckles) received £200 in part payment of their bills (ref. 45). In August Edward Wilcox secured the contract for erecting the spire on the tower, (ref. 46) having agreed to abide by the award of Sir Christopher Wren for the value and worth of his work (ref. 47).

The last work remaining to be done on the tower before the spire could be built was the erection of the stone cornice (ref. 48). John Barratt, who had contracted for the mason’s work, had recently died, and his place was taken by Robert Smith who had bought the stock and trade of Barratt and his partner, Abraham Story (ref. 49). Work on the cornice began on 3 November 1686, when Smith’s workmen received 2s. 6d. for ‘drink’ at ‘the first drawing up of the Stones’ (ref. 48).

Work on the spire proceeded throughout the winter. It was ready for the plumber’s and mason’s work (i.e., the lead covering and stone battlements) by February 1687, and before the copper ball was placed on top, Sir Christopher Wren was asked for his opinion ‘about the Wether Cock of what forme it shall be’ (ref. 50). A few days later the vestry’s attention to these trivia was diverted by the ominous report of a committee appointed to survey the steeple (ref. 51). The committee found that ‘the insufficiency of the Foundation (‘the workeing men who first wrought in it not following those directions which were given them as we are credibly inform’d’) had caused the steeple ‘to leane to the West very much and has taken the west end of the Church along with it, tareing of it off at the two westerne Windowes’. The mortar used was also found to be ‘very bad’ and the work ‘very ill performed’ (ref. 52). (Hobson, who was one of the bricklayers who laid the foundations, said they were laid on ‘wett Clay’ (ref. 53)). The committee concluded that ‘when the waite of the Lead shall be laid on the spire and the waite of the Bells together with the rocking which will be occasioned by strong winds and the Ringing the Bells which may happen together that this steeple with soe bad a bottome and ill workmanshipp cannot be able long to resist those violent motions but that there must be a continuall fear and consternation of some great misfortune to befall’.

The two courses open to the vestry were, firstly, to remove the spire (though no fault was found in the carpenter’s work), and secondly, to take down the steeple, rebuild it, and replace the spire on top. Mr Thompson, mason, was asked to examine the steeple regularly for new cracks (ref. 52) and Mr Tal(l)man, Mr Banks and Mr Oliver were called in for their opinions (ref. 54).

The spire is taken down

As a result of these consultations the vestry instructed Edward Wilcox to take the spire down, to carry it home to his own yard, and make a shed over it (ref. 52). But Wilcox was already owed a considerable sum of money by the parish and he refused to take the spire down unless part of his bill was paid and the rest secured. The vestry immediately ordered one of the churchwardens to employ some other workman to take it down, but before this could be done, Wilcox, who had no doubt been warned, began to take it down himself (ref. 53).

On 22 March 1687 Thompson, the mason, caused a vestry meeting to be ‘call’d suddainly’, ‘many new Cracks and Crashes’ having occurred. The note of emergency at this meeting is vividly conveyed in the minutes, which are interrupted to record the names of the vestrymen as they hurried in, one by one. The vestry ordered that the steeple should be brought down to a height of thirty feet by anyone who could do the work, if Wilcox refused, and that the advice of Sir Christopher Wren should be sought (ref. 57).

A reassuring interim report was presented a few days later by (Richard) Hayburne, who informed the vestry that the roof over the body of the church, which he had plumbed, had not spread (ref. 58). By April Sir Christopher Wren had also made a survey and he reported that the walls of the church were still upright and safe. He also considered that the steeple might be left as it then stood (it had apparently not been taken down to thirty feet), but that it would be convenient to have it covered with deal boards and no more bells put in than the one already hung (ref. 59). Although the investigating committee had attributed the cause of the trouble to bad workmanship, in 1690 the vestry asked the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers to alter the course of the sewer running through the churchyard because it had ‘dampnified the foundation of the steeple . . . and caused such a settlement that the steeple must be taken quite down and rebuilt’. (ref. 60).

In 1691, when an application to Parliament for powers to raise £3000 was being considered, £800 was allocated out of this sum for the demolition and re-erection of the steeple (ref. 61). Even allowing for the use of old materials this seems an inadequate amount and the idea of rebuilding the tower was eventually dropped. The old scaffolding had been left standing about the steeple until 1691, when John James purchased it for £8. He complained when he got it down that it was rotten (ref. 63). The spire too, though covered by a shed (ref. 64) was left lying in the churchyard, but in 1696 the rector mentioned that the parish of St. Anne Soho had once thought of purchasing it and the vestry considered spending the money, if it could be sold, on a handsome ‘Cupuleo’ and weathercock (ref. 65). There is, however, no reference to the purchase of the old spire among the records of St Anne’s Church, where a steeple was erected in 1718, probably to the design of William Talman (ref. 66).

Probably because no more leaning or cracking had occurred, the vestry of St. James apparently decided that it would not be necessary to rebuild the tower, and determined to finish the steeple using a new spire in place of the old one. In April 1699 Edward Wilcox was asked to ‘Prepare some pretty design’ for a new spire (ref. 67) and a voluntary subscription was started to pay for it. (ref. 68) There is no other evidence that Wilcox did in fact design the spire that was put up. An entry in the churchwardens’ accounts in March 1700 could be taken to imply that the design came from Wren’s office, for it records the payment of six shillings and sixpence ‘With Sr. Chris Wren’s man about the draught of the Steeple’ (ref. 69).

In the following October workmen took down ‘the Battlements at the steeple end’ (ref. 70) and the spire was probably erected by the end of the year, for in December 1700 the turner received three shillings and ninepence ‘for the Balls underneath the Piramids upon the steeple’ (ref. 71). The cost of the new spire was £397 12s. 2½d., of which £331 5s. 0d. was collected by subscriptions (ref. 72).

The difficulties encountered in finishing the steeple, and the inadequacy of the £2000 raised by rates forced the vestry to offer soft words and fair promises to its creditors, who were demanding the payment of their bills. Edward Wilcox, the son of Jonathan, acting on his own behalf and as his father’s executor, required permission to assign his debt amounting to £348 2s. 5d., but the vestry offered him ‘moderate Interest for Forbearance’. By 1689 it was clear that a new Act of Parliament would be necessary to raise more funds (ref. 73) the debt for work on the rectory and steeple being £2120; nevertheless, the vestry went ahead with the enlargement of the vestry room and thus increased the parish’s liabilities.

In 1691 the vestry decided to seek parliamentary authority to raise £3000, out of which £800 was to be assigned for the demolition and rebuilding of the steeple (ref. 61). Three years after this decision was taken the workmen again petitioned the vestry to promote a parliamentary Bill, but they were told that the sister parish of St Anne, Soho, had recently had a similar Bill rejected because of ‘the Warr’ (ref. 74). Waitman or Wightman, one of the bellfounders, had in the meantime started a suit in the Exchequer Court for £50 owing to him but he had been dissuaded from prosecuting the suit by a promise of payment of interest (ref. 75).

John Cock, the plumber, also went to law. A disagreement between him and the vestry arose in 1693 when he insisted that he should be paid interest on the debt of the ‘Lord of St Albans’ (i.e., for work done before the parish was formed), but the vestry would not recognise this claim (ref. 76). In 1695 Cock therefore prosecuted for non-payment of debt (ref. 77). The vestry then revised its intention to ask for powers to raise £3000 and prepared a draft Bill to raise £4000 (ref. 78). Further delay was caused because the inhabitants were not advised of the proposed Bill, (ref. 79) but the omission was repaired, and fortified by the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the vestry met to discuss the Bill with the complaining inhabitants. When the latter came (‘none of the complainants appeared until sent for’) they objected to the payment of any debts incurred before the formation of the parish, and insisted that the Earl of St Albans had settled them (ref. 80). A committee which was appointed to examine the unpaid bills for work done since the parish was formed found that they amounted to £1723 5s. 9d. ; the sum of £586 0s. 10d. was also owing to persons who had lent money (ref. 81). The vestry therefore agreed to obtain an Act to raise £3000 only (ref. 82). The workmen agreed that after their principal sums were paid, plus 3 per cent interest, they would accept what was left in lieu of the higher rate of interest for which they had asked. They also agreed to pay the vestry clerk for his extra trouble and if the sum shared out was considerable ‘they would not Grudge amongst them to Contribute and give the Parish a good Clock’ (ref. 83).

The Act was passed in 1696 (ref. 84). A list of the surnames of the workmen whose bills were still outstanding appears in the vestry minutes in December 1696. They were: Story and Barratt, masons; Wilcox, carpenter; Win(c)kles, Smith; Lobb, joiner; Alien, paviour; Highmore, painter; Cock, plumber; Smith, mason; Hart, bricklayer; Hayburne, carpenter; and Waitman, bellfounder. (ref. 85) The last outstanding debt appears to have been paid in 1710, to Anthony Hart, junior, as his father’s executor(ref. 86). How tired the vestry was of its financial troubles can be gauged from the desire expressed in their minutes in 1702 ‘that an End be put to all that Affair’. (ref. 87).

The congregation – not docile

The predominantly wealthy and influential congregation of the church was not a docile one, and frequently made unreasonable demands on the vestry. One such demand came from the Earl of Clarendon who wanted to make a door in the churchyard wall ‘for the Convenience of his Lordpps. Beere, Wine and Coles to be brought that way into his house.’ (ref. 88) Tactfully, the vestry refused the request on the grounds that it would bring down ‘Ecclesiasticall Censure’ (ref. 89). Members of the congregation also altered the pews to suit their convenience and sent carpenters to put up benches, and rails on the seats (ref. 90).

Accounts by visitors to St. James’s during the eighteenth century stress the fashionable element in the congregation. John Evelyn remarked that a sermon which he had heard elsewhere on the subject of costly apparel would have been more appropriately delivered at ‘St. James’s or some other of the Theatrical Churches in Lond, where the Ladys and Women were so richly and wantonly dressed and full of Jewells’ (ref. 91). James Macky complained that a stranger had to pay for a convenient seat so that ‘it costs one almost as dear to see a Play’, but he still thought the church worth a visit ‘on a Holiday or Sunday, when the fine Assembly of Beauties and Quality come there’ (ref. 92). The display of wealth tempted undesirable characters to attend services and the payment of ten shillings is recorded in 1693 to ‘Simmonds . . . for his care in lookeing after and taking pickpocketts in the Church’ (ref. 93). In later years James Boswell confessed that his mind was distracted when he attended a service at the church, but excused himself because his ‘warm heart and a vivacious fancy’ made him ‘given to love . . . and to the most brilliant and showy method of public worship’ (ref. 94).

The interior of the church, which had been admired for its beauty by contemporary writers (ref. 95) owed its brilliancy not only to the richness of the congregation’s dress but also to the whiteness of the walls (ref. 96) the gilded fittings (ref. 97) and the handsome furniture, all illuminated in winter by scores of candles (ref. 98).

In contrast the exterior of the church was thought to be too plain. In 1688 John Comb(e)s, a churchwarden and plasterer, who may have worked on the church, offered to plaster the outside walls ‘with lime and sand and other materialls like Stone work call’d finishing’. The vestry gave the matter ‘serious Consideracon and debate’ but decided that the sum of £160 and interest could not be afforded (ref. 99). Combs was warned not to do anything to the church without consulting the vestry, a necessary precaution since he had already had the lime and sand brought into the churchyard (ref. 100). The question of ‘Stucoeing the Church’ was again considered in 1764, but the surveyor who was then superintending repairs ‘thought that would not Answer’ (ref. 101).

Repairs and alterations

During the eighteenth century the church remained substantially unaltered. Repairs were carried out in 1751 when ‘Mr. Timbrell or any other prominent surveyor’ was ordered to be consulted (ref. 102) and the workmen employed included Williams Ludbey, mason, John Ludbey, carpenter, Samuel Ludbey, bricklayer, and William Pickering, painter (ref. 103). John Ludbey lent £400 to the vestry towards the cost of the repairs. (ref. 104).

In 1756 James Horn, the parish surveyor, reported that although the timbers of the spire braces appeared very sound, the boarding under the dial and torus, the balustrade, pyramids and balls, and the boardings and bearers forming the plinth under the balustrade all required renewal. With sundry other repairs and repainting and gilding, Horn estimated the cost would be in the region of £352 (ref. 105) but in fact it came to over £500. The workmen employed were Charles Ross, carpenter, Richard Norris, brazier, Richard Troubridge, plumber, William Pickering, painter, and Charles and/or Francis Sheffield, smith(s) (ref. 106). The obelisks or pyramids on the balustrade were presumably taken down during these repairs and not put back; they do not appear in any illustration of the church after this date (ref. 107).

In 1764 Mr. Goreham was chosen as surveyor to superintend further repairs. He found the church a ‘sound and Substantial Building’, although there was a bulge in the fascia, and some bad bricks in the fabric. Samuel Ludbey, bricklayer, (ref. 108) William Pickering, painter, Matthew Fairless, carpenter, Edward Prestidge, mason, and Thomas Heafford, plasterer, were the principal workmen engaged; (ref. 109) the cost amounted to over £1000 (ref. 110).

A year later the rector was asked to procure an ‘Electrical Wire’ to protect the spire from damage by lightning; (ref. 111) Benjamin Franklin’s lightning conductors were first introduced in 1752.

In 1788 Thomas Hardwick, Mr. Soham and Mr. Gowan were invited to submit estimates chiefly for repairs to the fittings, steeple and vestry room (ref. 112) ‘Mr. Soham’ was (Sir) John Soane, who had recently begun practice on his own. His designs for ‘alterations and Improvements’ were submitted in November 1788, but Hardwick’s plans, submitted later, in January 1789, were preferred (ref. 113). Their execution cost over £1000 (ref. 114).

First major alteration

The first major alteration of the fabric was made at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A faculty was obtained in 1803 (ref. 115) and in 1803–4 alterations were carried out under Thomas Hardwick’s supervision. The north doorway was replaced by a window; a robing room was built on to the east end of the church; the rector’s pews in the chancel were taken down to make room for a new pulpit and reading desks; seats for the poor were put in the middle aisle, and new staircases built to the galleries (ref. 116). The north and south arches in the first stage of the tower – shown open in the engraving by Hulsbergh — were bricked up and the west and east arches fitted with folding doors (ref. 117). The lobby thus formed was ordered by the vestry to be fitted up with three or four pews, and forms for the Offertory School boys, to be used at early and late prayers on weekdays (ref. 118). The ceiling was also extensively restored at the same time.

John Smith, carpenter and joiner, John Burt, bricklayer, Hugh Hunter, mason, Henry Pride, plasterer, and Thomas Nash, painter and glazier, were some of the workmen employed (ref. 117). Hardwick’s account came to £427 1s. (ref. 119) and the original estimate for the work was £5700 (ref. 117). Hardwick was given £100 on account in November 1804 and the workmen whose bills amounted to less than £100 each were also paid; the others were to be paid 10 per cent interest on their unpaid bills (ref. 119). Once again the parish was heavily in debt—this time for upwards of £5000—and in 1805 Messrs Devaynes and Company, bankers, were asked for a loan of £2000 (ref. 120). Some of this debt remained unsettled when Devaynes failed in 1811. (ref. 121).

In 1820 Hardwick proposed to the vestry that the balustrade on top of the tower, which being wooden often needed repair, should be replaced by one in Bath or Portland stone (ref. 124). Consideration of Hardwick’s suggestion was deferred but perhaps as a result of it he was asked a year later to call in two eminent surveyors to inspect the tower and steeple (ref. 125).

The joint report of Hardwick, John Shaw, senior, surveyor to Christ’s Hospital, and Jeffry Wyatt of Lower Brook Street, was submitted in December 1821. They found that the tower had been built with inferior materials and workmanship, and that it overhung towards the west by about seventeen inches. There was also a bulge between the pavement level and the first string course which had caused a fracture at the northwest angle (ref. 127). The surveyors decided, however, that the tower was not in immediate danger, and repairs made shortly afterwards temporarily prevented any increase in the overhang. John Shaw also surveyed the tower in 1827, with John White, (ref. 128) and again in 1830 (ref. 129).

In 1856 the south doorway was removed and two vestibules were erected in the angles between the tower and west face of the church. These were linked by a continuous ambulatory formed by the reopening of the north and south arches of the tower, thus providing access from the north and south into the body of the church at the west end. The interior staircases to the galleries were removed, new stone stairs being built within the vestibules, and the extra room thus provided was used to increase the number of free pews. The architect for these alterations was Charles Lee, and Messrs. Patrick and Son were the contractors; the cost came to approximately £3000 of which £500 was obtained from a subscription fund collected to augment free church accommodation in the parish (ref. 130).

In 1878 the rector, J. E. Kempe, made further alterations to the church to commemorate his tenure of the living for a quarter of a century (ref. 131). The pews at the east end were cut down and converted into open seats and the east end fitted up ‘to give it more the aspect of a chancel’. The vestibule under the tower was made into a baptistery; the door in the west wall of the tower was shut up and a window inserted above it (ref. 132).

Extensive repairs – 1884

Extensive repairs were carried out in 1884, both internally and externally, under the supervision of J. T. Wimperis (ref. 133). The roof was largely renewed and reslated and the block-modillioned cornice and blocking-course of stone which survive on the south side of the church were probably executed at this time. Thereafter the church remained substantially unaltered until the war of 1939–45.

Enemy action – May 1940

In 1940 a bomb, which destroyed the rectory and vestry, fell in the churchyard, and incendiary bombs destroyed the spire and most of the roof. The building was restored in 1947–54 by Messrs. Richardson and E. A. S. Houfe, architects, under the personal direction of Sir Albert E. Richardson; the work was carried out by a Cambridge firm, Messrs. Rattee and Kett (ref. 134). The north wall was found to be unsafe, but after consultation with the Ministry of Works, it was found possible to preserve it by tying it to the east wall and strengthening it with concrete bands. Later it was discovered that the wall had diagonal fractures, but buttresses were built below ground level to support it. The block cornice on the north side was removed and replaced by a stone-dressed parapet of bricks specially made to match the rest of the fabric, and a new door was made for the north vestibule entrance. This vestibule was lowered to allow a better view of the tower and the plaster over the tower base inside the vestibules was stripped off. The old stone stairs leading up to the gallery were removed and new staircases of timber were built, following the design of some of Wren’s stairs in King’s Bench Walk. The floor of the church had caved in, vaults having been excavated below it since the church was built, and a concrete raft had to be made to support the new floor. The church was rededicated on 19 June 1954. For safety’s sake, the height of the tower was reduced in 1955.

The Bombing of St James’s Church

2020 marked the 80th anniversary of the bombing of St James’s Church during the Second World War.

In this video, Mary Lambert, whose father was rector at the time, recounts the events of that night and her own memories of St James’s Church through the remainder of the war, as well as its eventual rebuilding and reopening.

The Roof and Ceiling

The leaning of the steeple in 1687 caused alarm for the safety of the roof over the body of the church, which was perhaps more endangered by neglect. In 1693 Sir Christopher Wren sent a message to the churchwardens, desiring them to take care of the roof ‘to preserve it from wet’ (ref. 136). He was much concerned about the preservation of church roofs, for which he thought ‘good Oak is certainly the best; because it will bear some Negligence: The Church-wardens Care may be defective in speedy mending Drips; they usually white-wash the Church, and set up their Names, but neglect to preserve the Roof over their Heads: It must be allowed that the Roof being more out of Sight is still more unminded’ (ref. 137). Oak had not been used for St James’s roof— it ‘being all of Furr’ (i.e., deal, which was Wren’s second choice) – and the wardens obviously did not pay enough attention to the slating, which was so broken in 1714 that the rain came through (ref. 136).

Minor repairs were occasionally necessary during the eighteenth century but in 1803 Henry Pride, plasterer, had to cut down parts of the cornices, frames and mouldings of the ceiling and make them good (ref. 117). Some apprehension about the safety of the ceiling was expressed in 1830 (ref. 139) and John Shaw was called in to examine it twice in that year. He declared that the roof was quite safe, (ref. 129) but in 1836 Charles Mayhew, the parish surveyor, decided that the ceiling was so loose as to be a danger to the congregation, and called in Sir Robert Smirke for his advice (ref. 140). Smirke reported that the joists to which the plastering was attached over the middle aisle had sunk, and in some cases their ends had been drawn out of the beams and were resting on the laths and plaster. As the plasterwork itself was also defective Smirke advised taking down the centre part of the ceiling to enable the joists to be strengthened and fixed from below. Mr. Tombleson did the carpenter’s and joiner’s work for £1025 3s. 1¾d. and Mr. Fitch the plasterer’s and bricklayer’s work for £1796 1s. 3d., excluding the cost of scaffolding. The painting and gilding, which cost £512 5s. 10½d., was done by Mr. Herman (ref. 140). Mayhew had tried to restore the ceiling as it was formerly; one band he had bound with iron but he found it impossible to retain the others. ‘Some of the flowers over the organloft were the original ones, and the design of the enrichments were followed as closely as possible.’ (ref. 141).

The central part of the roof was destroyed in 1940 by incendiary bombs, but it was found possible to save the fir timbers of the roof over the aisles. The present ceiling was reproduced by Messrs. Eaton Contractors Ltd., by using existing measured drawings and pieces salvaged after the fire. It is constructed of fibrous plaster and the ornaments were cast in the church itself; four thousand books of gold leaf were used to gild the plasterwork (ref. 134).

The Windows

In July 1685 the vestry ordered curtains to be provided for the windows (ref. 142) and green curtains continued in use in part of the galleries at least until 1822 (ref. 143). In 1821 the windows in the south gallery were ordered to be glazed with ground glass to keep out as much sun and light as possible, so that curtains might be dispensed with on that side of the church (ref. 123). Ground glass was also inserted in the lower windows on the north side later in the same year (ref. 144).

Wren evidently preferred an uncurtained light, at least at the east end. In 1693 the removal of the curtain over the east window occasioned some disagreement amongst the vestrymen; ‘Some were for putting it up [again] others for bricking up the Window halfe way and some for letting the Window be as it is.’ (ref. 145) Wren, whose advice was sought, considered that ‘it was best to let the Window be without any Curtaine’ (ref. 146).

In 1743 the oval windows at the east and west ends were stopped up (ref. 147) and at the time of the repairs to the church in 1764 Goreham prepared designs for ornamental mouldings to go over them. The vestry approved these and ordered that they should be executed ‘as near similer to the other windows as possible’ (ref. 148). A new window was substituted for the north doorway in 1803 (ref. 117) and in 1856 a similar window was inserted in place of the south doorway (ref. 149).

In 1810 several ‘respectable’ inhabitants suggested that the east window should be filled with painted or stained glass. The vestry did not object, provided it was paid for by voluntary subscription, (ref. 150) but only sufficient funds to pay for the upper part of the window were promised (ref. 151). The subject chosen was the ‘whole History of the Transfiguration’, and in 1813 Joseph Backler agreed to execute the work and fix ground glass in the lower part of the window for a sum of not more than £1250, or to complete the whole window for £2000, subject to the satisfaction of Benjamin West and Thomas Hardwick (ref. 125).

Backler was given permission to solicit for subscriptions in 1819, (ref. 153) and in 1821 the vestry also instructed one of the rate collectors to ask for subscriptions and issued a printed appeal (ref. 154). Promises of funds were so slow in coming, however, that it was not until 1845 that The Builder reported, accurately, a rumour that a Gothic stained-glass window was to be put up. The hope that the information was ‘in error’ was not realized, (ref. 155) for Wailes of Newcastle had been asked, among others, to submit a design (ref. 156). The storm of protest aroused by the new window reverberated through the pages of The Builder for years afterwards. (ref. 157) Wailes himself had been reluctant to design the window for a church ‘in the modern style . . . having devoted himself and his workmen exclusively to the production of glass adopted to Gothic structures’ (ref. 156). The committee appointed to carry out the scheme, with Charles Mayhew as secretary, gave way before public pressure and asked Wailes to take out of his design ‘everything Gothic’ (ref. 158). The window was eventually given ‘a more Byzantine character’ and was installed in 1846 (ref. 159).

By 1857 two more windows by Wailes had been put up, furthering the intention to fill in all the gallery windows with stained glass (ref. 160). Another two were put in by Messrs. Ward and Hughes by 1888, one commemorating the church’s bicentenary. Both are illustrated in The Builder (ref. 161). On the restoration of the church Crown glass was put in all the windows except the east, where stained glass, designed by Christopher Webb, and depicting scenes from the life of Christ, was inserted in 1954 (ref. 162).

The Architectural Description

The body of the church, contained by a brick wall some three feet thick, consists of a five-bay nave about 37 feet wide, flanked by galleried aisles, making the total internal width some 67 feet. The east and west walls are broken by shallow projecting bays, of about the wall’s thickness, giving the nave a total inside length of 87 feet 6 inches. Incorporated with the west wall is the brick tower shaft, externally square and internally octagonal in plan, its first stage originally formed as an open porch.

The Hulsbergh engraving, published between 1709 and 1729, shows an early arrangement of the interior (Plate 10a). The floor was fitted with four blocks of pews and a single row of pews lined the walls, broken by the lobbies of the doorways centred in the west, north and south fronts; by the gallery-staircase enclosures in the northwest and south-west angles; and by the small railed sanctuary before which rose the three-decker pulpit. The north and south galleries contained two stepped rows of pews, and a single narrow row between the gangway and the wall, whereas three rows were crowded into the shallow west gallery. These arrangements were completely changed by Thomas Hardwick, shortly after 1803 (see page 37), when two blocks of pews were formed in the nave, separated by a wide central gangway in which the free benches were placed as occasion demanded. The pulpit was erected in front of the south block and the reader’s desk in front of the north. In each aisle was a shallow block of pews, facing east, extending to the wall or into the recesses formed by the removal of the window aprons on the inside. In each side gallery were three stepped pews in front of the gangway and one behind, with a second in each window recess. Hardwick also constructed new staircases to the gallery, inside the building but eliminating the original outside steps. The open porch under the tower was converted into a vestibule, and a window was substituted for the central doorway in the north aisle. All of these changes are shown on the plans by the elder Pugin and by Clayton, and the general appearance of the interior at this time is recorded by Frederick Nash’s perspective view.

In 1856 the lobbies and staircase enclosures within the body of the church were removed under Charles Lee’s directions, the space gained being given over to the provision of free sittings, augmented by increasing the second gallery to the full width of the church. The engraving from The Builder of 14 February 1857 shows the interior arrangements at this time.

The present arrangement of the church floor follows, in general, that in use after 1878. The easternmost bay of the nave serves as a chancel, raised one step above the general floor level and flanked by stalls. A wide cross-gangway separates this chancel space from the handsome new oak benches, all facing the altar and spaciously set out to form two blocks in the nave, with a wide central gangway, and one block in each aisle. The west bay of the north aisle now serves as the baptistery, and the east end of the south aisle is arranged as a chapel (the panelling and altar form a memorial to Francis Ernest Jackson, A.R.A., given by his pupils and friends, and the ‘Pieta’ painting is his work).

The simple utilitarian exterior of the church, as contrasted with the richness and elegance within, has always been adversely criticised, though seldom so forcibly as when Joseph Gwilt called it a ‘barbarous brick-cased and ill-shaped pile’ and likened it to the toad which is ‘ugly and venomous, yet wears a precious jewel in its head’, (ref. 163) the jewel, of course, being the universally admired interior. Yet, looking at the Hulsbergh engraving of the north elevation as originally designed, the design is pleasant enough in its modest way.

The walls throughout were faced with red brick, generally laid in Flemish bond, and Portland stone was used for the window architraves, the doorcases, the plain underlying plinth, the bandcourse immediately below the upper tier of windows, and for the long-and-short chamfered quoins at each angle of the church and tower. The north and south elevations are similar in composition, but differ slightly in treatment since the north side was at first partly concealed from Piccadilly by houses. There are two tiers of five evenly spaced windows, that in the middle of the lower tier replacing an original doorway, dressed with a stone frontispiece described below. A vestry, linking church and rectory, has always taken the place of the easternmost window of the north elevation. The lower windows are of squat proportion and have segmental-arched heads; the upper windows are relatively tall and have round-arched heads. All are dressed with wide moulded architraves, eared at the heads and broken by keystones, those of the lower tier being plain, and those above having a form of moulded scroll-console except the middle one which is carved with a cherub’s head on folded wings. The Hulsbergh engraving of the north front, and Sutton Nicholls’s north prospect of St. James’s Square show that the north and south elevations, and the return fronts of the aisles, were originally finished with a modillioned eaves-cornice of wood, with gutter ornaments of lion heads at centres between the windows.

This wooden eaves-cornice lasted, with repairs, until 1803 when Thomas Hardwick repaired and altered the church. The walls then received the finish shown on the engraved elevations and sections by Clayton and Pugin — a plain brick parapet rising about three feet above a plain bandcourse (at the level of the old eavescornice) and finishing with a plain coping, both of Portland stone. This parapet was removed, probably by Wimperis in 1884, in favour of a more appropriate block-modillioned cornice and a blocking-course of stone. Wimperis’s cornice remains on the south aisle walls, but has been replaced on the north by a replica of Hardwick’s plain parapet – perhaps for structural reasons.

The simply drawn plan from Wren’s office shows an entrance at the west end of the nave, through a porch or lobby in the base of the tower, and an entrance in the middle of the south side, dressed with a frontispiece sufficiently important to be seen from St. James’s Square. No north doorway is shown or suggested, and it must appear that the decision to provide an entrance from Piccadilly into the north aisle was made at a late stage, perhaps after the body of the church had been erected, thus accounting for the difference in the design of the two frontispieces. That of the north doorway, removed in 1803, was an arch set in a rusticated surround, with a moulded surbase, a moulded impost, and a keystone carved with a cartouche bearing the arms of Jermyn, the whole being finished with a moulded cornice. The south doorway, removed in 1856, had a more elaborate frontispiece. The door, which was surmounted by a panel resting on cherub-head corbels, was framed by a straight-headed moulded architrave, flanked by panelled pilaster-strips with scrolled consoles bearing the cornice-hood. On each side was an engaged half-pilaster and a pilaster of an Ionic order, plain-shafted, carrying an extension of the entablature, its frieze carved with festoons and the Jermyn mullets and crescents. Profile scroll-consoles flank the architrave of the window above. When the door was closed up, and the frontispiece removed, the wall face was patched with yellow stock bricks.

The east elevation is divided into three bays, the wide middle one being the projecting east end of the nave. The stone quoins, plinth, and bandcourse of the side elevations are repeated, the last stopping against the great east window. This is of two stages, each divided into three lights, the lower by plain-shafted half-columns and square columns of a Corinthian order carrying an unbroken entablature. The upper order is composite, and the entablature is stopped and returned in the middle light, which is arched with an unbroken moulded archivolt. The wall face beneath the east window is treated as a high pedestal, originally with a moulded base, a panelled die now plastered, and a cornice which continued in a simplified profile across the flanking faces of the projecting bay. Each narrow flanking bay, ending an aisle, contains a tall oval window (now blocked) framed in a moulded architrave and placed just above the bandcourse. This front was originally finished with a wooden eaves-cornice, raking up to form a steep pediment over the projecting bay. It seems probable, however, that Wren envisaged finishing the walls with a cornice, presumably of stone, surmounted by a pedestal parapet, and a great open segmental pediment over the projecting bay, which would have made it necessary to hip the east end of the roof. The present steep gable is far less happy in effect.

The west end of the church exterior has been so much altered and overlaid since 1856 that it is necessary to turn to drawings and engravings for a clear idea of its original appearance. Kip’s panorama shows scrolled consoles abutting the tower shaft, finishing the narrow exterior faces of the nave’s west wall. The aisle fronts were similar to those at the east end, except that doors serving the gallery staircases were introduced on the inside of the lower stage. These small doors were approached by lateral steps, and were dressed with enriched moulded architraves and cornices. Reset, they now give entrance to the aisles from the staircase lobbies flanking the tower.

The tower, projecting squarely from the west wall of the nave and interrupting its crowning triangular pediment, was built of red brick although much of the lower part has been refaced with yellow stocks (probably in 1788). Portland stone was used for the quoins and the three bandcourses (the first plain and the others moulded) defining the four stages. The first two stages correspond with the two storeys of the church, the lower having a round-arched opening (now furnished with doors) in each face, dressed with a plain stone architrave, moulded imposts, and a keystone, that of the west front being extended and carved with a Baroque cartouche bearing the arms of Jermyn. In each face of the second stage was a round-arched window with an eared architrave, similar to those in the second tier of the church but furnished with a plain keystone. The squat third stage has a circular opening, probably intended for a clock-dial, set in each exposed face, and the top stage (now demolished) contained in each face a round-arched opening, fitted with louvres and framed by a plain brick architrave, with stone imposts and keyblock.

The actual spire erected by Edward Wilcox (but by no means certainly designed by him) had some affinity with that of St. Lawrence, Jewry (1677), and even more with the lower part of a spire designed for St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, (ref. 165) to which has been added an octagonal obelisk spirelet of the St. Martin’s, Ludgate Hill, type. At St. James’s, the tower was finished with an open balustrade of wood, each side being divided into two lengths by solid dies, with an obelisk on balls, at each angle. The spire had a low concave base, then a square stage with a clock-dial in each face. The upper angles of this stage were splayed, transforming the square to an octagon, and above a shallow concave plinth rose the arcaded octagonal drum of the obelisk spirelet, with consoles decorating its foot and a ball terminal surmounted by a vane.

The staircase lobbies, added on each side of the tower in 1856, were designed by Charles Lee in complete harmony with Wren’s work as altered by Thomas Hardwick. The side wall of each lobby contained a reproduction of the round-arched window in the second stage of the tower, and below was a Doric doorcase with an arched opening. The west wall repeated the design of the aisle end wall, with its tall oval blocked window. The north lobby has now been reduced in height and furnished with a new segmental-arched doorway. In the west wall a large lunette window has been introduced above the bandcourse.

The original form of construction used for the roof was always admired, and justly so. James Elmes, in his life of Wren, (ref. 166) gave an excellent account of it, based on C. R. Cockerell’s examination. (ref. 166) Joseph Gwilt’s description is quoted here.

‘The roof, which is admirably contrived . . . is a model for economical, not less than for safe construction, and that without tye-beams. The principal rafters, which rise from the walls at a height level with the tops of the columns, are prevented from spreading, partly by collars above the plastered cradling of the great vaulting, and partly by hammer-pieces, (on to which they tail towards the wall), which lie from the walls to the tops of the columns, whence the semi-cylindrical ceiling springs. On the hammer-pieces there are posts which rise vertically and catch the principals, thus causing the superior parts of those principals to be poised and steadied on the right-angled triangular bases formed over the galleries. The lead-flats above the galleries also create a reaction of the thrust primarily generated: the principals, of course, only occur over the columns. There is nothing remarkable in the framing which forms the cradle of the plastered vaulting.’ (ref. 167)

There is a conflict of evidence concerning the roof covering. Sutton Nicholls’s north prospect of St. James’s Square, an engraving of c1722, shows the church roof wholly covered with lead, but the reference in 1714 to broken slating suggests that the engraving misleads on this point, and that whereas the flats over the aisles were leaded, the more steeply pitched nave roof was slated. In 1756 it was to be re-covered with Westmorland slates, but in 1825 Gwilt states that ‘the roof . . . is covered with lead’. (ref. 167) However, in his estimate of 1821 for repairs, Thomas Hardwick allowed £50 for the slater, and in the later nineteenth century and down to 1940 there is no doubt that the nave roof was slated. The whole roof is now covered with copper, to lighten the load on the fabric.

The Interior

In St. James’s Wren created one of his most elegant church interiors with slender plain-shafted Corinthian columns raised on square piers, forming the lightest of arcades between the nave and the galleried aisles and helping to support the ingeniously designed roof trusses already described. On each side five almost equal bays are formed by six piers and columns, the first and the last standing free but in close proximity to the breaks in the east and west walls. The square piers have an overall height of 7 feet 9 inches and, the memorials which covered them having been removed, the stone cores are now faced with oak wainscot, with a panel-shafted pilaster planted on each face. The caps are Doric and the mouldings are enriched with carving. These piers support the gallery, the front of which forms an entablature, with a plain frieze and enriched mouldings to the architrave and cornice, surmounted by a moulded pedestalcourse. Entablature and pedestal break slightly forward above each pilaster-face, and over the two Doric columns which stand in the nave to support the concave-ended front of the west gallery. The breaks in the side gallery fronts form pedestals for the Corinthian columns of the upper order, which have an overall height of 14 feet 4 inches and are of pine. Each column carries an entablature of plaster, with enriched mouldings, plain fascias and frieze, and a panelled soffit. These entablatures case the hammer-pieces of the roof trusses and are returned laterally above the gallery to rest on respond-corbels. The corbels are formed of Corinthian capitals overlaid by St. James’s scallop-shells, and they provide the only architectural adornment of the aisle walls, their plain plastered surfaces intended to serve as a ground for memorials.

Each bay of the galleried aisles has a barrelvaulted ceiling of plaster, springing from the transverse entablatures and rising between the trusses. The surface of each vault is decorated with a double-guilloche rib, linking the columns, and an enriched foliage moulding enclosing a large rectangular panel in the centre of which is an acanthus-boss. These transverse vaults intersect with the great barrel-vault of plaster over the nave, the surface of which is divided into five bays by double-guilloche ribs, linking the columns of the two arcades. These ribs, and those of the transverse vaults, are bordered with chains of acanthusbuds. In each bay enriched foliage mouldings are used to frame the three large square panels between the linked spandrel panels which are modelled in high relief with a winged cherub’s head flanked by foliage-and-ribbon festoons and pendants. In the first, third and fifth bays, the middle panel contains a large boss of curling acanthus. Similar bosses in the second and fourth bays, which had been replaced in 1866 by sun-burners, were omitted when the ceiling was last restored. It is almost certain, however, that the five bosses were added in 1837 when gas-lighting was first installed, to provide a decorative finish to the roof ventilators (cf. Plates 17a, 17b).

The shallow easternmost bay of the nave vault is richly decorated with modelled plasterwork, arranged in panels to correspond with those in the wide bays. Above the springing are Baroque cartouches bearing the arms of Jermyn, next come oval wreaths, then elaborate compositions introducing Baroque scrolls, cornucopiae, foliage and vases, and in the middle panel is a Vitruvian scroll of foliage with a central cartouche. The corresponding bay at the west end is simply treated, with square coffers each containing a flower.

The east wall is dominated by the great Venetian window of two stages, set in a wide recess with slightly splayed reveals. These and the flanking wall faces were originally left quite plain, but a cornice has been added to link the entablature of the arcades with that of the lower stage of the window, where the same Corinthian order is used. The architectural treatment of the window is the same inside as out, and the soffit of the recess is enriched with coffers.

Image Library

Report of bombings and casualties October 1940

Damage after bombing

Destruction of interior

Sybil Thorndike (1882-1976) standing at the lectern we still use today

Interior after 1940 bombing

The South Aisle turned into a temporary church

22 cwt bell being lowered for safe keeping after the raid. The other bell was destroyed.

Coat of Arms salvaged from the vestry

Congregation leaving after Harvest Festival soon after the South Aisle was made into a temporary church, likely to be 1941

Garden of Remembrance in courtyard

Towards the end of the much delayed restoration: craftsmen adding gold leaf to ceiling decoration

Queen Mary visits

Altar, Altarpiece and Communion Rail

In 1684 Sir Robert Gayre, who lived in a house in Jermyn Street, gave to the church ‘the Altar, and all the Furnitur; and Plate’. (ref. 168) To commemorate his gift his arms were ordered to be put up in the church; (ref. 76) these have disappeared but in 1954 a descendant gave the painting on the wooden lunette above the vestry door which records his arms and his death in 1702.

The altarpiece consisted of ‘fine Bolection, Pannels, with Architrave, Friese, and Cornish, of Cedar; and . . . a large compass Pediment’. (ref. 169) Below the pediment, carved in limewood, were ‘flowres and Garlands about the Walls by Mr. Gibbons . . . [and] a Pelican with her young at her breast’. (ref. 170) The altar was enclosed by a ‘strong and graceful Rail and Banister of white Marble, artfully carved’. (ref. 169) The four marble panels set in the railing were taken away in 1821 because of their decayed state. An estimate for their repair, together with the railing, was produced in 1820 by Mr. Hardwick but it being thought too costly he was asked to provide estimates for a similar railing in brass or wood. (ref. 171) In 1821 he submitted three estimates; one for repairing the railing and panels for £720, a second, for bronze panels only, for £210, and a third, for ironbronze panels, for £126. The first estimate was from Mr. Westmacott, and the other two from Mr. (probably Samuel) Parker of Argyle Street. At first it was decided to accept the cheapest tender (ref. 172) but on Hardwick’s advice ‘best bronze’ was eventually chosen, (ref. 173) and Parker made the panels for £220/10s. The repairs to the railing itself were made by Mr. Mather, mason. (ref. 174)

In 1846 the limewood carvings had also become very dilapidated and they were restored by George Lock and G. Kent of Leamington, using 850 new pieces. (ref. 175) The altarpiece was painted and grained in imitation of walnut and varnished during alterations made to the church in 1866. (ref. 178) In 1878 the marble enclosure was raised and enlarged. (ref. 177)

Towards the end of the nineteenth century painted panels were inserted in the altarpiece under the pediment, one depicting the Last Supper, and others, in the flanking faces, portraying the Apostles; (ref. 178) they survived the war, but were not reinstated.

The whole width of the wall face beneath the east window is lined with cedar and oak, the design continuing the treatment of the Doric lower order of the aisles, forming an altarpiece with wings. This altarpiece is a modern replacement of the original, in which each wing presented a face with two raised-and-fielded panels framed in bolection mouldings. Now there are three panels, one narrow between two wide. The full entablature is omitted from the altarpiece proper, where the cornice curves to form a great segmental open pediment, its tympanum filled with the splendid carvings in limewood by Grinling Gibbons. These carvings are dominated by the Pelican in its Piety, placed above the middle loop of a festooned garland, elaborately composed of fruits, flowers, shells and wheat-ears, arranged to fall in three wide and two narrow loops, and ending in two great knotted pendants. Following the curve of the pediment cornice is an intricate composition of interlacing scrollwork, in which rest two doves.

The twin round-headed panels (inscribed with the Decalogue) originally placed on this altarpiece were probably those for many years fixed on the east wall of the gallery; they are now in store. The original wainscot panels flanking the altarpiece were also lettered.

The altar, which has been enlarged, is of oak. The front is divided by twisted columns into three panels, and has a festooned apron decorated with cherub-heads.

The Communion rail is of white marble with open panels of cast bronze, with rich foliage scrollwork of a pattern based on the original marble panels.

The Pulpits and Reading Desks

Most of the references to the pulpit in the early vestry minutes are concerned with the fixing of the type or sounding board, (ref. 179) and the gilding of the supporting irons. (ref. 180)

At the time of the first major alterations to the interior of the church in 1803 a new pulpit and new reading desks were ordered to be made of ‘right wainscot’. The type was to be made of the same material, the soffit inlaid ‘with a glory of mahogany and sattin wood’, and the supporting iron pillars were to have shafts representing palm trees, the tops ‘richly covered with leaves and dates’. (ref. 117) Hardwick produced drawings for the new sounding board in July 1803 and one of these was approved. (ref. 181) The carpenter and joiner engaged by the vestry was John Smith, and the smith and brazier, Henry Dawes. (ref. 117)

The old pulpit and reading desks were perhaps among the ‘old Fittings’ ordered to be given to Berwick Street Chapel or sold in January 1822. (ref. 182) In Sir John Soane’s Museum there are drawings for a pulpit and prayer desk at St. James’s Church, dated 1824; (ref. 183) they do not appear to have been executed. Hardwick’s pulpit can be seen in a water-colour and in an undated view by F. Mackenzie. (ref. 184) It was presumably superseded by the present pulpit which was installed about 1862. This is constructed in oak, and octagonal in plan. Each face has a moulded panel containing a figure carved in high relief, and at each angle is a twisted column supporting the entablature-rail. Originally raised on a cluster of columns (Plate 16), it now stands on a simply panelled and moulded pedestal of octagonal plan, in oak.

In 1902 an outside pulpit was erected on the north wall of the church as an offering by W. D. and E. J. Nichols. (ref. 185) It was designed by Temple Moore and carved by L. A. Turner. (ref. 186) It was damaged in 1940 but restored at the same time as the rest of the fabric (ref. 187).

The Font

The font now in use replaced the original one shortly after the church was built. In January 1686 the vestry was informed that an anonymous donor was ‘piously inclined to give another font’ if a more convenient place could be found. (ref. 34) Room was made for the new font, which was installed some time in 1686; (ref. 13) it was decided to offer the old one to the church of St. Anne, Soho (ref. 34).

The new font and its cover are attributed to Grinling Gibbons. The white marble font consists of an ovoid bowl raised on a stem realistically carved to represent the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent entwined about it, Adam standing on one side and Eve on the other. The bowl is decorated with three kidney-shaped panels carved in low relief to represent (a) the Baptism of Christ, (b) St. Philip baptising the Eunuch of Candace, (c) Noah’s Ark afloat (Plate 23b). The cover was described by Hatton as being ‘finely carved . . . with a spacious Angel descending from a Celestial Choir of Cherubims, all gilt with Gold’. (ref. 169) In 1687 the vestry ordered that the position of the cover should be altered for the benefit of Sir Thomas Clarges, who ‘thought himselfe much injur’d . . . it being to high and hindred his sight’. (ref. 191) According to Brayley (ref. 192) the cover was stolen about the end of the eighteenth century and hung up at a spirit shop near the church, but the vestry minutes make no mention of this. It was probably sold with the other old fittings in 1822 after the removal of the font to a position behind the seats in the central aisle, where the cover could not be hung. The font is shown in this position in contemporary illustrations, (ref. 193) but in 1878 it was moved into the lobby under the tower, which was made into a baptistery, and enclosed with a railing. (ref. 194) During the restoration of the church the font was moved to its present position in the northwest corner.

The Plate

The set given by Sir Robert Gayre is dated 1683, and was made by Ralph Leeke. (ref. 5) Its weight when repaired and regilded in 1750 by John Montgomery, silversmith and senior churchwarden, was 556 oz. (ref. 195) There are also six beadles’ staves, with silver orbs surmounted by the figure of St. James, made in 1757. (ref. 196)

The Royal Coat of Arms

It is not possible to ascribe an exact date for the royal coat of arms which has been placed on the north face of the tower inside the north vestibule. Without the inescutcheon, which could have been added later (perhaps around 1694), it represents the arms borne by the Stuart kings, and could therefore be the work for which a churchwarden charged £23 2s. in 1688 ‘for Timber and carveing of the Kings Armes’. (ref. 197) The carving may have been hung originally in the vestry room. Repairs carried out in 1789 included the painting and gilding of the arms in the vestry room, (ref. 198) and in a photograph reproduced in The Architectural Review for 1913, (ref. 199) they are shown hanging over the mirror and chimneypiece in the vestry.

The Organ

In 1690 the vestry petitioned the Queen to give the organ from the Roman Catholic chapel in Whitehall Palace to St. James’s Church. (ref. 200) The organ had been built by Renatus Harris for the chapel, which was opened in 1686; the front had been carved by Grinling Gibbons for £40 and it had been gilded by Giles Campion for £100. The chapel was gradually dismantled after the accession of William and Mary (ref. 201) and in answer to the vestry’s petition the Queen gave ‘the Great Organ’ to St. James’s in 1691. The vestry returned Her Majesty ‘humble and hearty thankes’ and raised a voluntary subscription for the organ’s removal and installation. (ref. 202) Proposals for this were received from (Bernard) Smith, who satisfied the vestry with his ‘Assurance to performe the worke well artificially’ and promised to have the instrument ready for playing by Christmas 1691. He was paid £150. (ref. 203)

In March 1692 a record of the Queen’s gift was ordered to be inscribed on the middle panel of the organ loft (ref. 204) and in July ‘Dr. Blow and Mr. Purcell’ (fn. q) were invited to judge if Smith had performed his work well. (ref. 205) In 1695 Smith was appointed to keep the organ clean and in tune, at a salary of £10 a year (£10 less than he received at the Temple). (ref. 206) On Smith’s death in 1708 £10 owing to him was withheld from his widow in compensation for several pipes and stops which he had omitted during the reconstruction. (ref. 207)

The organ had become greatly dilapidated by 1852 when, under the superintendence of Charles Lee, the parish surveyor, it was entirely rebuilt by J. C. Bishop. This was his ‘last work and avowed masterpiece’. (ref. 208) Bishop re-used the old pipes which ‘the mellowing hand of time had rendered of more than ordinary value’, and added a detached choir organ in front of the gallery. (ref. 209) Messrs. G. and C. Bishop, herald painters to the Queen, decorated the organ, (ref. 210) and the cost of the rebuilding and restoration was £1000. (ref. 209)

The organ was damaged when the church was bombed, and had to be rebuilt. Messrs. Rothwell repaired it and in 1954 it was re-erected with a new console. The organ case was preserved, having been saved from damage by storage at Hardwick Hall during the war. (ref. 211)

The first organist of the church was Ralph Courteville, recommended by the Earl of Burlington and appointed in September 1691 at a salary of £20 per annum. (ref. 202) The Dictionary of National Biography assumes that he continued in office until 1772, but he resigned in favour of his ‘kinsman’, Ralph Courteville, junior, in 1729, being ‘Infirm and unable to do his Duty’. (ref. 212) Ralph Courteville, senior, was presumably the composer of the sonatas and songs and part of the music for Thomas D’Urfey’s Don Quixote. (ref. 213) His ‘kinsman’ Ralph or Raphael Courteville, junior, was organist from 1729 to 1772; (ref. 214) he was very neglectful of his duties (ref. 215) and it was presumably he who, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, took an active part in politics. There is a memorial to his (? first) (ref. 213) wife on the south side of the gallery.

Gibbons’s sumptuous organ case of carved and gilded oak dominates the west end of the nave and towers high above the choristers’ gallery. This last is raised above the western gallery by four equally spaced Tuscan columns. The gallery front of oak is formed as an entablature surmounted by a high panelled pedestal, and it consists of three parts, each side curving with a concave sweep to meet the projecting centre, now fronted with the case of the choir organ added by Bishop in 1852. The pipes of the great organ are raised on a panelled chest, and the segmentalheaded front is flanked by pipe-towers and broken centrally by a taller tower. These three towers rest on corbels carved with cherub-heads, projecting from an enriched entablature with a fretted frieze. They finish with rich entablatures, having acanthus friezes, and the pipes are partly overhung with carved valances. Above each side tower stands a trumpeting cherub, and above the central tower kneel two cherubs holding a crown, while on the curving cornices between the towers are reclining angels, St. Cecilia’s musicians, holding trumpets. The choir organ case, designed to accord with the great organ, also has three towers but the middle one is shorter than the others (Plates 13b, 21).

The Bells

The Act of 1685 allowed for part of the rate collected in the parish to be used to provide the church with one or more bells. The bell which now (1960) stands in the churchyard is inscribed ‘William and Philip Wightman made me 1686’, and is presumably the bell which was named on St. David’s Day, 1687. (ref. 216) Probably as a result of the cracking of the tower the bell was taken down temporarily but it was rehung in October 1688, with a little bell which had been borrowed. (ref. 217) The Act of 1696 which empowered the parish to raise rates for payment of the debts for building the steeple, prohibited the hanging of more than two bells. (ref. 84)

The Clock

Shortly after its erection the steeple was embellished with a clock given by Henry Massy (Plate 10a). (ref. 218) This was replaced in 1764 by a clock made by Aynsworth Thwaites who received £100 and the old clock in exchange. (ref. 219)


The church was originally lit by two brass and iron candle branches hung from the ceiling, which were made by Mr. White, founder; (ref. 220) supplementary lighting was provided by brass sconces and by iron candlesticks fixed to the pews. (ref. 221) At an enquiry held in 1740 it was shown that over a hundred candles were used on winter Sundays. (ref. 222)

There are several references in the vestry minute books to the gilding and lacquering of the light fittings, (ref. 223) and in 1764 the iron candlesticks on the pews were replaced by six dozen brass ones. (ref. 224) New three-light branches were fixed to the fronts of the galleries in 1803. (ref. 225)

In 1835 the vestry considered lighting the church with oil (ref. 226) but this proposal was apparently abandoned in favour of gas-lighting by the Equitable Gas Company in 1837 (Plate 17b). (ref. 227) The heat from the bronzed gas brackets and standards made the atmosphere of the church too oppressive, however, and most of them were removed in 1866 when two sun-burners were installed in the ceiling by Messrs. Strode. (ref. 176) Vertical pew lights were installed when the church was restored (Plate 21).

The Churchyard

The grant from the Crown to Thomas, Lord Jermyn, in 1684 included the freehold of two pieces of land adjoining the church site. (ref. 19) One piece, roughly equal in extent to the site of the church, lay to the west, fronting Jermyn Street. It became known as the ‘green’ churchyard (ref. 229) and originally gave access to the west door and outside gallery stairs by means of gates in its east and south walls. (ref. 230)

The other piece of land lay on the north side of the church, but was separated from Piccadilly for many years by a row of buildings. These included the rectory, two houses on property not belonging to the parish, the watch house and houses and stables belonging to the rector as part of his endowment. Between the watch house and the rector’s property stood the gates which gave access to the north entrance of the church (fig. 2).

The churchyard was first lit by patent lights in the winter of 1688–9. In November 1688 the churchwardens were asked to install ‘such a Light or Lights as are used in Jermine Streete’ on the south side of the church ‘to light along the Church yard Wall there and front of the Church’. (ref. 231) The wardens entered into an agreement with Edmund Heming and John Bulteel, representatives of ‘the Copartnership of the New Invention of Lights’ for two ‘great lamps’ to be put up on the north and south side of the church. (ref. 232) The initial fine was £9 for installation and the rent for a five-year period was fixed at £4 per annum, the wardens being responsible for the provision of oil and for lighting the lamps. (ref. 233)

Other improvements were considered in 1704. A Dr. Wrathbone offered to plant three rows of lime trees in the ‘outer’ churchyard and this was considered along with a proposal to remove the partition wall between the two yards. (ref. 234) Neither of these suggestions appears to have been carried out but later in the year the vestry ordered that, ‘for the Gentrys greater conveniency in taking Coach’, the great gates leading into the churchyard from Jermyn Street should be removed and a larger pair placed in the middle of the wall. (ref. 235)

‘In 1747 an Act of Parliament was passed permitting a piece of land which was part of the rector’s endowment to be taken into the northern churchyard (D on fig. 2); compensation to the rectors was fixed at £27 per annum. (ref. 236) The site was cleared in 1748 and consecrated in 1749. (ref. 237) On this part of the churchyard the first vestry hall was built in 1814, to be succeeded by the second hall and the Midland Bank (No. 196 Piccadilly). In 1762 another Act was passed to enlarge the churchyard. (ref. 238) The land on which the two houses between the rectory and the watch house stood was let to the parish by the Crown in 1738 to provide for the parish poor. (ref. 239) The Act of 1762 empowered the parish to incorporate this site into the churchyard (F on fig. 2). The two houses were pulled down in the following year and the ground was consecrated in 1764. (ref. 240)

References in the vestry minutes suggest that from the middle of the eighteenth century, at least, the northern churchyard had been paved, burials being made in vaults underneath the paving. (ref. 241)

After the war of 1939–45 Viscount Southwood provided money for the ‘green’ churchyard to be made into a garden of remembrance ‘to commemorate the courage and fortitude of the people of London’. (ref. 242) The garden was opened in 1946 by Queen Mary, and contains a memorial, designed by Alfred F. Hardiman, to Viscount Southwood (1873–1946) and his wife (1865– 1951) (Plate 19b); there is a statue of ‘Peace’, also designed by Hardiman, standing in the garden.

The north side of the churchyard was originally bounded by a brick wall, broken by a gateway immediately opposite the tower, presumably with wooden gates hung on the impressive nichefronted and urn-crowned piers shown in the Hulsbergh engraving. Later representations show plain piers and a wall topped with an iron chevaux-defrise. It was, presumably, about 1862 that the wall was rebuilt in a style matching that of the vestry hall, with a panelled and pilastered face and an elaborate archway of brick and stone, framing the entrance gates (Plate 11c). In 1937, to commemorate the coronation of George VI, this archway was demolished and replaced by a pair of crested gates of wrought iron, hung on urncrowned piers of brick, flanked by small gates set in brick surrounds, the whole designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. (ref. 243) These gates, the work of Bainbridge Reynolds, were taken down and stored before the wall was wrecked in 1940, and they have now been incorporated, with the cresting altered to form an overthrow, in the new iron railing which extends between the rectory and the remaining part of the old brick wall (Plate 18b).

The gates and railings on the south side of the church appear to date from about 1800. They are of good design, though simple, with vase-headed standards and trellised panels that originally terminated in lamp-holders (Plates 11a, 19a).

Few of the memorials in the churchyard are now decipherable. A list of those which were readable in 1913 was published in Notes and Queries, 11th series, vol. vii, pp. 185, 224–5, 303 and 324.

The buildings which have been erected in the churchyard at various times are described below.

The Rectory

The present rectory is the third to stand on the site in the north-east corner of the churchyard (G on fig. 2). The first was begun in 1685 and finished in 1686. (ref. 244) The workmen known to have been employed on its construction were Anthony Hart, bricklayer, Jonathan Wilcox, carpenter, Henry Lobb, joiner, and John Cock, plumber. (ref. 245)

In 1739 a passage and doorway were made on the ground floor to enable the rector to pass into the vestry which adjoined it. (ref. 246) The house survived until 1846 when it was demolished (ref. 247) and a new rectory was built on its site in 1846–7 from the designs of John Henry Hakewill. (ref. 248) Hakewill’s building was destroyed in the war of 1939– 1945 and the new rectory, designed by Austin Blomfield, was built in 1955–7. (ref. 249) The building has a church hall at basement level and incorporates a vestry room.

The original rectory is shown by Tallis (Plate 18a), and a part of it appears in a view of the church published in 1837. (ref. 250) Both sources combine to suggest that it was a fairly typical late seventeenthcentury house of three storeys, built of brick with long-and-short quoins and bandcourses of stone, and a tiled roof sloping down to a wooden eavescornice. The Piccadilly front had four straightheaded windows in each upper storey and the pedimented doorway was placed on the left. J. H. Hakewill’s building of 1846 preserved the general lines of the former house, but the windows had segmental arches, the quoins were all of equal length, and the crowning cornice was of stone. At some time, perhaps around 1900, Hakewill’s three-storeyed building was heightened by an additional storey, designed with a scrupulous regard for the original work.

The new rectory, also a three-storeyed building, is built of red and fawn-coloured bricks with stone dressings. The elevations, neo-Georgian in style and somewhat eclectic in detail, are more elaborate than those of the former buildings. The entrance front faces west to overlook the paved churchyard, and is a composition of three bays. The doorway, in the middle bay, has a handsome doorcase of stone with a broken segmental pediment, and is reached by a double flight of curved steps (Plate 18b).

Footnote References

1. Christopher and Stephen Wren, Parentalia, 1750, pp. 318–21.
2. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1673–5, 18 Aug., 23 Oct. 1674.
4. Guildhall Library, MS. 9531/18, ff. 15–19.
5. J. Lambert, Guide to St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, 1958.
7. P.R.O., C8/359/103.
8. Survey of London, vol. xx, 1940, The Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Part III, p. 23 n.
9. Wren, op. cit., p. 261.
10. W.P.L., D1756, 26 Feb. 1686/7.
11. Ibid., D1756, 12 May, 7 Oct. 1686.
12. P.R.O., C8/359/103.
13. W.P.L., D1756, 14 Dec. 1686.
14. Ibid., D1756, 2 Feb. 1686/7, 9 Sept. 1685, 12 May 1686.
15. 1 Jas. II, c. 22, public; W.P.L., D1756, 29 March 1687.
16. Wren Society, vol. x, p. 54.
17. 1 Jas. II, c. 22, public.
18. P.R.O., LRR063/13, pp. 244–7; Cal. S.P Dom. 1683–4, 3 Nov. 1683.
19. W.P.L., D1756, copy of Letters Patent, 31 May, 36 Chas. II.
21. W.P.L., F2005, 16 July 1684; D1756, 5 Oct. 1685.
22. Ibid., F42, 1685.
23. Ibid., D1756, 7 July 1685.
24. Ibid., D1756, 2 Oct. 1689.
25. Ibid., F2005, 18 Sept. 1684.
26. M.C.R.O., Wills proved in Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex, will of Henry Murrell, 1683.
27. P.R.O., C6/252/37.
28. W.P.L., D1756, 12 May 1686, 13 April 1687.
30. W.P.L., D1756, 12 Aug. 1685; C.W.A. (178), 1685.
31. Ibid., D1756, 16 Sept. 1685; C.W.A. (178), 1685.
32. Ibid., D1756, 5 Oct. 1685; P.R.O., C6/252/37.
33. W.P.L., D1756, 18 Dec. 1685.
34. Ibid., D1756, 13 Jan. 1685/6.
35. Ibid., C.W.A. (178), Jan. 1685/6.
36. Wren Society, vol. ix, Plate 16.
37. The Architects’ Journal, 23 Sept. 1954, p. 365.
38. W.P.L., D1756, 3 Feb. 1685/6.
39. Wren Society, vol. x, p. 52.
40. W.P.L., F2004, 30 April 1674.
41. Ibid., D1756, 9 Sept., 5 Oct. 1685.
42. P.C.C., 55 Foot.
43. W.P.L., D1756, 24 Feb. 1685/6.
44. Ibid., C.W.A. (178), April? 1686.
45. Ibid., D1756, 12 May 1686.
46. Ibid., D1756, 20 Aug. 1686.
47. Ibid., D1756, 1 June 1686.
48. Ibid., C.W.A. (179), 3 Nov. 1686.
49. Ibid., D1756, 7 Oct. 1686.
50. Ibid., D1756, 2 Feb. 1686/7.
51. Ibid., D1756, 14 Feb. 1686/7.
52. Ibid., D1756, 19 Feb. 1686/7.
53. Ibid., D1756, 26 Feb. 1686/7.
54. Ibid., C.W.A. (179), 16, 20 Feb. 1686/7.
57. W.P.L., D1756, 22 March 1686/7.
58. Ibid., D1756, 29 March 1687.
59. Ibid., D1756, 13 April 1687.
60. L.C.C.R.O., Westminster Commissioners of Sewers, Orders of Court, vol. 7, p. 58.
61. W.P.L., D1756, 14 Dec. 1691.
63. Ibid., D1756, 7 Sept., 14 Dec. 1691.
64. Ibid., C.W.A. (181), 30 June, 27 Nov. 1688.
65. Ibid., D1757, 26 Dec. 1696.
66. Ibid., A2202, A2202A, A2086.
67. Ibid., D1757, 6 April 1699.
68. Ibid., C.W.A. (187), 16 March 1699/1700.
69. Ibid., C.W.A. (187), 19 March 1699/1700.
70. Ibid., C.W.A. (189), 20 Oct. 1700.
71. Ibid., C.W.A. (189), 22 Dec. 1700.
72. Ibid., C.W.A. (189), 1700/1.
73. Ibid., D1756, 18 May, 13 June 1688, 13 Dec. 1689.
74. Ibid., D1757, 6 Oct. 1694.
75. Ibid., D1756, 17 Feb. 1692/3.
76. Ibid., D1756, 19 May 1693.
77. P.R.O., C8/359/103.
78. W.P.L., D1757, 4, 25 Nov. 1695.
79. Ibid., D1757, 2 Jan. 1695/6.
80. Ibid., D1757, 7 Jan. 1695/6.
81. Ibid., D1757, 15, 29 Jan. 1695/6.
82. Ibid., D1757, 7 Feb. 1695/6.
83. Ibid., D1757, 28 April 1696.
84. 7 and 8 William III, c. 17, public.
85. W.P.L., D1757, 22 Dec. 1696.
86. Ibid., D1758, 27 June 1710.
87. Ibid., D1757, 7 April 1702.
88. Ibid., D1756, 1 March 1687/8.
89. Ibid., D1756, 9 March 1687/8.
90. Ibid., D1756, 9 Jan. 1690/1.
91. The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. de Beer, 1955, vol. v, p. 542 (18 July 1703).
92. James Macky, A Journey through England, 1722, vol. i, pp. 305–6.
93. W.P.L., D1756, 19 May 1693.
94. Boswell’s London Journal 1762–1763, ed. Frederick A. Pottle, 1950, p. 54.
95. Narcissus Luttrell, A Brief Historical Relation . . ., 1857, vol. i, p. 313; The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. de Beer, 1955, vol. iv, p. 397; E. Hatton, A New View of London, 1708, vol. i, pp. 298–9.
96. W.P.L., D1757, 18 Feb. 1703/4; D1759, 24 July 1722; D1761, 17 May 1751, etc.
97. Ibid., D1761, 17 May 1751; D1762, 19, 24 April 1764, etc.
98. Ibid., D1760, 2 June 1740.
99. Ibid., D1756, 1 March 1687/8.
100. Ibid., D1756, 19 Dec. 1688.
101. Ibid., D1762, 19 April 1764.
102. Ibid., D1761, 9 April, 17 May, 3 June 1751, 27 Jan. 1752.
103. Ibid., D1761, 2 June 1752.
104. Ibid., D1762, 2 July 1760.
105. Ibid., D1761, 1 May 1756.
106. Ibid., D1756, 13 April, 1 May 1756, 2 May, 2 June 1757.
107. See for instance J. W. Maitland, The History and Survey of London, 1756, vol. ii, Plate facing P. 1337.
108. W.P.L., D1762, 19 April 1764.
109. Ibid., D1762, 17 May 1764; D1763, 10 June 1771.
110. Ibid., D1762, 4, 19 Feb. 1765.
111. Ibid., D1762, 26 Jan. 1765.
112. Ibid., D1765, 19 June 1788, 19 Feb. 1789.
113. Soane Museum, journal No. 1, p. 78; ledger A, f. 166; W.P.L., D1765, 19 Feb. 1789.
114. W.P.L., D1765, 1 Aug. 1789, 11 Feb. 1790.
115. Ibid., D1767, 2 May 1803.
116. Ibid., D1767, 26 March, 7 April 1803.
117. Ibid., D1767, 7 April 1803.
118. Ibid., D1767, 4 July 1804.
119. Ibid., D1767, 22 Nov. 1804.
120. Ibid., D1767, 8 July 1805.
121. Ibid., D1768, 16 April 1811.
124. Ibid., D1769, 21 Sept. 1820.
125. Ibid., loc. cit., and 18 Oct. 1821.
127. W.P.L., D1769, 3 Dec. 1821.
128. Ibid., D1770, 6 Dec. 1827.
129. Ibid., D1771, 1 May, 4 Oct. 1830.
130. The Builder, 20 Dec. 1856, pp. 690–1; 14 Feb. 1857, pp. 94–6.
131. Ibid., 25 May 1878, p. 549.
132. Ibid., loc. cit., and 26 Oct. 1878, p. 1130.
133. Ibid., 21 June 1884, p. 912.
134. The National Builder, May 1954, pp. 348–50; information supplied by Sir Albert E. Richardson.
135. Ibid., and The Illustrated London News, 3 July 1954, pp. 16–17.
136. W.P.L., D1756, 28 Sept. 1693.
137. Wren, op. cit. (1 above), p. 320.
139. Ibid., D1771, 13 April 1830.
140. Ibid., D1773, 23 March 1837; The Builder, 4 June 1859, p. 373.
141. The Builder, 4 June 1859, p. 373.
142. W.P.L., D1756, 13 July 1685.
143. Ibid., D1762, 27 Oct. 1764; D1766, 8 Dec. 1801; D1769, 12 June 1822.
123. Ibid., D1769, 10 Aug. 1821.
144. Ibid., D1769, 6 Sept. 1821.
145. Ibid., D1756, 24 Nov. 1693.
146. Ibid., D1756, 6 Dec. 1693.
147. Ibid., D1760, 26 Jan. 1742/3.
148. Ibid., D1762, 24 April, 1, 17 May 1764.
149. The Builder, 14 Feb. 1857, p. 94.
150. W.P.L., D1767, 10 March 1810.
151. Ibid., D1767, 15 April 1813.
153. Ibid., D1769, 9 July 1819.
154. Ibid., D1769, 2, 15 June 1821.
155. The Builder, 16 Aug. 1845, p. 389.
156. Ibid., 23 Aug. 1845, p. 397.
157. Ibid., 30 Aug. 1845, p. 415; 4 Oct. 1845, p. 482; 25 July 1846, p. 353; 8 Aug. 1846, pp. 382–3; 26 June 1852, pp. 403–4; 2 June 1855, p. 257.
158. Ibid., 23 Aug. 1845, p. 397; 13 Sept. 1845, p. 441.
159. Ibid., 11 July 1846, p. 331.
160. Ibid., 14 Feb. 1857, pp. 94–6.
161. Ibid., 25 Aug. 1888, pp. 140–1.
162. The National Builder, May 1954, p. 349.
163. J. Britton and A. Pugin, Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London, 1825, vol. i, p. 180.
165. Wren Society, vol. ix, Plate 27.
166. James Elmes, Memoirs of . . . Sir Christopher Wren, 1823.
167. Britton and Pugin, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 181–2.
168. John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1720, vol. ii, bk. vi, p. 82.
169. E. Hatton, A New View of London, 1708, vol. i, p. 298.
170. The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. de Beer, 1955, vol. iv, p. 397.
171. W.P.L., D1769, 12 June, 21 Sept. 1820.
172. Ibid., D1769, 26 Jan. 1821; Gunnis.
173. W.P.L., D1769, 8 Feb. 1821.
174. Ibid., D1769, 26 Jan. 1821; C.W.A., 1821–2.
175. The Builder, 24 Oct. 1846, p. 509; 4, 18 April 1857, pp. 196, 223.
178. G. H. Birch, London Churches of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries, 1896, Plate XXXIX.
177. Ibid., 26 Oct. 1878, p. 1130.
179. W.P.L., D1756, 14 Feb. 1686/7, 13 April 1687; D1759, 26, 31 March 1719; C.W.A. (189), 11 Nov. 1700.
180. W.P.L., D1761, 17 May 1751; D1762, 21 July 1764; D1765, 11 June 1789.
181. Ibid., D1767, 5 July 1803.
182. Ibid., D1769, 5 Jan. 1822.
183. Soane Museum, Soane drawings, drawer 47, set 8, Nos. 6–9.
184. Victoria and Albert Museum, E572, 1929.
185. Tablet in situ.
186. The Building News, 5 Dec. 1902, p. 795.
187. The National Builder, May 1954, pp. 348–50.
191. W.P.L., D1756, 27 April 1687.
192. E. W. Brayley, Londiniana, 1829, vol. 2, p. 282.
193. See The Builder, 14 Feb. 1857, p. 95, etc.
194. Ibid., 26 Oct. 1878, p. 1130.
195. W.P.L., D1760, 19 Feb. 1749/50.
196. Ibid., D1761, 11 June, 27 July 1757.
197. Ibid., D1756, 6 Aug. 1688.
198. Ibid., D1765, 12 March 1789.
199. The Architectural Review, vol. xxxiv, July-Dec. 1913, p. 37.
200. W.P.L., D1756, 17 April 1690.
201. Survey of London, vol. xiii, 1930, The Parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, Part II, pp. 106–7, 110, 116.
202. W.P.L., D1756, 7 Sept. 1691.
203. Ibid., D1756, 17 Oct. 1691.
204. Ibid., D1756, 22 March 1691/2.
205. Ibid., D1756, 21 July 1692.
206. Ibid., D1757, 14 Aug. 1695.
207. Ibid., D1758, 6 April, 14 May, 27 Dec. 1708.
208. The Builder, 20 Dec. 1856, p. 691.
209. Ibid., 14 Feb. 1857, p. 96.
210. The Illustrated London News, 16 Oct. 1852, p. 317.
211. B. D. Hylton Stewart, The Organ in St. James’s, Piccadilly, in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, Parish Magazine, March 1955, pp. 8–11.
212. W.P.L., D1759, 26 Dec. 1729.
213. D.N.B.
214. W.P.L., D1763, 10 June 1772.
215. Ibid., D1761, 27 Jan. 1752; D1763, 12 June 1771.
216. Ibid., C.W.A. (179), 1 March 1686/7.
217. Ibid., C.W.A. (181), 20, 24, 27 Oct., 12 Nov. 1688.
218. Ibid., D1757, 18 Feb. 1703/4.
219. Ibid., D1762, 20 Feb., 26 Dec. 1764.
220. Ibid., D1756, 14 Dec. 1686; D1760, 6 June 1739; D1762, 21 July 1764.
221. Ibid., D1760, 9 May 1746; D1762, 27 Oct. 1764.
222. Ibid., D1760, 2 June 1740.
223. Ibid., D1760, 9 June 1747; D1762, 21 July 1764; D1765, 11 June 1789.
224. Ibid., D1762, 27 Oct. 1764.
225. Ibid., D1767, 30 Sept. 1803.
226. Ibid., D1773, 24 Dec. 1835.
227. Ibid., D1773, 23 March 1837.
176. Ibid., 17 Nov. 1866, p. 845.
228. H.M.C., 8th Report, Appendix I, 1881, p. 233b.
229. W.P.L., D1756, copy of Letters Patent 31 May, 36 Chas. II; D1762, 2 June 1763; D1765, 28 July 1784; D1769, 26 Jan. 1820.
230. Ibid., D1757, 19 May, 22 Nov. 1704; D1760, 11 June 1738.
231. Ibid., D1756, 12 Nov. 1688.
232. Ibid., D1756, 13 Aug. 1691; P.R.O., C105/39.
233. P.R.O., C105/39.
234. W.P.L., D1757, 18 Feb. 1703/4.
235. Ibid., D1757, 19 May 1704; D1758, 22 Nov. 1704.
236. 20 Geo. II, c. 29, public.
237. W.P.L., D1760, 5 March 1747/8, 26 May 1748, 23 March 1748/9.
238. 2 Geo. III, c. 58, public; W.P.L., D1762, 20 Feb., 4 March 1762.
239. Cal. Treasury Books and Papers 1735–8, pp. 528, 532, 537.
240. W.P.L., D1762, 2 June 1763, 25 June 1764.
241. Ibid., D1760, 5 March 1747/8; D1762, 2 June 1763, 1 May 1767.
242. Stone tablet in garden.
243. The Builder, 7 May 1937, p. 971.
244. W.P.L., C.W.A. (178), 10 Sept. 1685; D1756, 1 Oct. 1686.
245. Ibid., D1756, 9 Sept., 18 Dec. 1685, 1 Sept. 1686.
246. Ibid., D1760, 11 Sept. 1739.
247. The Builder, 24 Oct. 1846, p. 509.
248. L.C.C.R.O., M.B.O.,vol. 148, Cases of Information and Reference, pp. 80–90.
249. B.A. 14550; T.P. 14463.
250. National History and Views of London, 1837, vol. i, Plate facing p. 123.
251. W.P.L., D1756, 5 Oct. 1687; C.W.A. (180), 20 Oct. 1687.
252. Ibid., D1756, 17 April 1688.
253. Ibid., D1756, 21 June 1690.
254. Ibid., D1756, 22 Dec. 1690.
255. Ibid., D1756, 15 Dec. 1690.
256. Ibid., D1756, 15 Aug. 1690.
257. Ibid., D1757, 27, 29 Dec. 1697.
258. Ibid., D1756, 12 Aug. 1685; C.W.A. (178), 30 Sept. 1685.
259. Ibid., C.W.A. (180), 29 Nov.–12 Dec. 1687; 7 Jan. 1687/8–6 July 1688.
260. Ibid., D1756, 14 May 1692.
261. Ibid., D1756, 14 May, 3, 8 June 1692.
262. Ibid., D1756, 2 Aug. 1692.
263. Ibid., D1762, 5 March 1764, I May 1766.
264. Ibid., D1762, 2 June 1763.
265. Ibid., D1762, I May 1766.
266. Ibid., D1762, 1 May 1767, 25 June 1768; D1763, 26 Jan. 1769.
267. Ibid., D1758, 19 Oct. 1704.
268. Ibid., C.W.A. (179), 24 June 1686.
269. Hatton, op. cit. (169 above), vol. ii, p. 761.
270. New Remarks of London by the Company of Parish Clerks, 1732, pp. 265–6.
271. W.P.L., D1762, 26 Jan. 1767; D1763, 23 Aug. 1771.
272. Ibid., C.W.A. (1705), 19 April 1698.
273. Ibid., D1760, 26 Jan. 1742/3.
274. Ibid., D1765, 1 Aug. 1789.
275. Ibid., D1768, 13 Feb., 26 March, 18 April 1812, 12 April 1814.
276. The Builder, 18 May 1861, p. 343.
277. Ibid., loc. cit., and 4 Oct. 1862, p. 721; British Almanac and Almanac Companion, 1863, p. 272.
278. P.O.D.
279. W.C.C. Minutes, 15 Dec. 1921.
280. Ibid., 6 April, 18 May 1922.
281. Ibid., 28 July 1921, 12 Oct. 1922, 26 April 1923.
282. Ibid., 18 May 1922.
283. The Building News, 28 Sept. 1900, pp. 425, 439, sketch shows date on plaque now disappeared.
284. The National Builder, May 1954, pp. 348–50; T.P. 14463.
3. Notes and Queries, eleventh series, vol. ix, 14 Feb. 1914, p. 126.
17. 1 Jas. II, c. 22, public.
20. P.R.O., C54/4864, No. 29.
29. P. Muilman, A New and Complete History of Essex, 1770, vol. ii, p. 62.
55. P.R.O., C5/119/11.
56. Guildhall Library, MS. 917, box 7.
62. Ibid., D1756, 29 March 1692.
122. Ibid., D1765, 19 Feb. 1789; D1771, 26 Jan. 1829.
126. The Builder, 14 Jan. 1871, p. 24.
164. W.P.L., D1758, 26 Dec. 1704.
188. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), West London, 1925, p. 105.
189. Information supplied by the London Diocesan Fund.
190. L.C.C. Print Collection, Westminster, CB7238.From: ‘St. James’s Church, Piccadilly’, Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960), pp. 31-55.