The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

St. John the Baptist in the Savoy.

This chapel, in all exterior points of view, is a very humble specimen of the splendid style of architecture which prevailed in the reign of Henry VII. The structure is remarkable, as the usual church arrangement is departed from; the altar and chancel being at the north instead of the east end. The walls are substantially built with stone, and are all ancient except the west, which was built in at the destruction of the ancient remains of the Savoy,

383

from the ruins of which the materials of this portion appear to have been taken; the south front consists of a square tower in stories; in the lower story a pointed loop-hole in the south front, and a pointed arch in every aspect of the story; the elevation is finished with a parapet; the lower story is flanked with mean looking apartments, above which the wall of the church rises pedimentally without windows. The east wall of the body of the chapel has low arched windows divided in breadth into lights by mullions, and perpendicularly into stories by a transom stone; the upper tier of lights have arched beads enclosing sweeps, the lower arched heads without sweeps in the from the north the lower tier of lights is omitted an ancient vestry having formerly stood here upon the vault still used. The north end has a large low arched window divided by perpendicular mullions; it is entirely walled up. The west side corresponds with the east already described; it has an entrance with a pointed arch between the and windows from the north; above the arch is a tablet, with the following inscription :--

This chapel

was repaired at the charge

of his Majesty

King George,

in the year of our Lord,

1721

.

James Greenwood,Churchwardens Joshua Amory,

This doorway is the only entrance to the chapel by a descent of oaken steps; the interior is highly interesting, from the beauty of its ceiling, and the remains of the former splendour of this appendage of royalty. The ceiling is horizontal, slightly coved at the sides, where it rests upon an impost cornice situated just above the points of the windows. The coved portion is ornamented with a range of obtusely pointed arches in relief, the horizontal part by quaterfoil and cuspated tracery, forming altogether an harmonious and beautiful design, of a character almost unique; the chapel royal at St. James' has a ceiling somewhat similar, but decidedly inferior. In every quaterfoil is an ornament, the number and variety of which is so great, that only a few can be particularized. The division between the nave and chancel is at the pier between the and windows from the altar, it is marked by the pulpit and in the ceiling by a variation in the ornaments. The quaterfoils in the nave are occupied by lions, griffins, greyhounds, antelopes, and falcons, holding banners within wreaths, and among the tracery the portcullis is often repeated, those ornaments being the badges of the houses of York and Lancaster, and the Tudor family. In the chancel the wreaths enclose shields charged with religious emblems, consisting of St. Michael trampling on his adversary, the Pelican, and the implements of our Saviour's passion, being the same ornaments which Dr. Milner describes as existing in a similar

384

situation in the choir of Winchester cathedral; the outer range of shields, which immediately succeed to the coveing, have angels holding single implements, as the cross, spear, lance, and sponge, &c. The other shields have the following subjects in groups as the fancy of the sculptor directed, viz. the pillar against which Christ was scourged, the scourges, the cross, and reed, the crown of thorns, nails, hammer, lanthorn, ladder, dice, the faces of Pilate and Caiphas, the sepulchre sealed with seals; and others commemorative of St. Peter, viz. the cock, the sword with the ear of Malchus, &c.; the whole of the ornaments are in relief; the ground-work is painted of a light blue, the ornaments and reliefs white. The present altar-screen occupies the place of the eastern window with the dado below it; the latter is covered with wainscotting, the former with a painting of red curtains round the decalogue, surmounted by the royal arms. On the wall at the east side still remains an elegant niche, a portion of the ancient altar-screen; it is covered with an hexagonal canopy in heights; the entire stone-work is hollowed and carved into the most beautiful tracery which art could effect; the style of the architecture is so exactly similar to Henry the 's chapel, that little doubt can exist of both being the work of architect. The corresponding niche on the west side has been destroyed, to make way for sir Robert Douglas's monument. Splendid indeed must the altar have been before the tasteless alterations, which reduced it to its present state, were effected. A block cornice exists in part on the east wall, but this is interfered with by a monument; and a pointed doorway, in the same wall, corresponding with the entrance to the chapel, once led to the sacristy, formerly situated below the window, which--was noticed in the description of the exterior to be deficient in the lower tier of lights; it now leads to the burial ground. The head of the arch of this doorway is enclosed in a square architrave, above which is a block cornice; and against the southern jamb is a sculptured angel: these remains prove that the chancel must once have been superbly ornamented. The door of oak which occupies this arch is enriched with the singular pannels enclosing scrolls, so often met with in the wood-work of the above era.

The pulpit, affixed to the pier between the and windows from the altar, on the west side of the church, is hexagonal, with a sounding-board; the carving on it marks its construction to have been in the time of James I. The reading and clerk's desks below it are more modern. A gallery crosses the south end, in which is a small organ erected in ; and on the wall of the church above, is painted a choir of cherubs, with the inscription,

Glory to God in the highest.

Near the north end of the nave, against the west wall, the niche for holy water still exists. The pewing is situated on each side of a central aisle.

The monuments are numerous; against the west wall of the chancel is an ancient altar-tomb: the dado enriched with

385

sculptured quatrefoils, inclosing the following shields of arms: , a chevron between martlets; , the same impaling paley of , a chief lozengy; , the same as the last. The whole is covered with a canopy composed of an obtuse arch, and surmounted by a cornice sustained on columns, the soffit of the canopy being pannelled. Near this is a small monument, with a minute statue of a praying lady between columns; the inscription is illegible.

Against the north wall, and occupying the place of of the arches before observed, is a splendid monument to the memory of sir Robert Douglas and his lady; he is represented in armour reclining on his right arm, on a slab; his other hand on his sword; on his head a fillet, with a bead round the edges; at his feet his coat of arms; and behind him his lady is kneeling in a niche: the whole is surmounted by a lofty canopy, on the top of which is a statue of Time.

The eastern niche has been converted into a monument by persons possessing more taste than those who constructed the last described. It is occupied by a kneeling lady, with a countess's coronet on her head: in the side compartments are the following shields of arms: . Barry nebule or and , Blount; , the same impaling barry, of and or, on a lozenge. Below the statue is an inscription to the memory of lady Dalhousie, . Underneath is an inscription to John Chaworth, who died ; above is his arms in brass.

Against the eastern wall is another monument to a recumbent lady with a ruff and gown of the time of Elizabeth;

the inscription is gone: it represents lady Arabella, countess dowager of Nottingham. A kneeling lady of the same kind occupies a niche above the doorway,

Engraved in Smith's Antiq. of London.

on this side the building. The inscription is as follows:

Hic iacit Alicta flia Simoinis, steward de la king Heth svff. Obiit

18

ivnii do hvmane savlvtis

1572

, vivis premivnt.

The only modern monument worthy notice is to the memory of G. H. Noehden, LL.D. born , died .

This chapel is kept in repair by government. A table of benefactions records the repairs of the church in , at an expense of It was repaired again in , at which time his majesty gave bibles and prayer books.

Over the door of the gateway, towards the street, was the following inscription; it was destroyed by fire in .

1505

.

Hospitivm hoc inapi tvrbe Savoia vocatvm

Septimvs Henricvs fvndavit ab imo solo.

In order to make the communication between and Waterloo-bridge, the principal remains of the ancient palace were

386

entirely removed. The only ruin is a small portion of wall at the south-west corner of the church.

Near the south end of the church is a plain brick building, called

the German Lutheran church.

The interior is very handsome, with a gallery; the roof, which is coved, being supported by Ionic pillars, painted in imitation of Sienna marble. The pulpit, of polished oak, is situated at the south end of the church.

On the site of Beaufort-house and Beaufort-buildings, was a magnificent mansion, entitled,

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Engraved in the plate before noticed, vide ante, p. 246.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
ID:
g158bt43n
To Cite:
DCA Citation Guide    EndNote
Usage:
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript