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

Allen, Thomas

1827

St. James' Church.

The plan of the church gives a nave and side aisles, with a square tower at the west end. The walls are built with a dark red brick, with stone dressings, and like the exterior of the generality

281

of Wren's churches, it promises little. The west end is made in breadth into a central and lateral divisions; the former is in advance of its aisles, and is principally occupied by the tower, which is in stories; the fronts which are clear of the main structure are uniform; in the story is an arched doorway in the western front, enclosed in an architrave of stone; the key-stone is carved with a shield of arms, a crescent between mullets in pale, being the armorial bearings of the princely benefactor, the noble Henry Jermyn, earl of St. Albans; this doorway is repeated in blank, but without the arms, in the flanks; the succeeding story has an arched window enclosed in a stone architrave hi every front, and the succeeding story has circular windows in like manner; the story being clear of the church has an arched window turned in brick in every aspect; a cornice and parapet finish the elevation: the angles are all rusticated. To the square tower succeeds a spire covered with lead; it commences with an octagonal basement, having the clock dials in of the faces; above this is a small octagon story, having an arch in each face, from the crown of which springs an obelisk, still keeping the same form and ending in a vane. In the west ends of the aisles are blank oval windows, with doorways beneath them, now fronted with shabby porches. The south side is made in height into stories, the elevation finished by a cornice and parapet. In the centre of the lower story is an entrance, enclosed in a handsome frontispiece of stone, consisting of an engaged column, grouped with pilasters of the Corinthian order, on each side of a doorway, the lintel of which is sustained on cherubic heads; the whole is surmounted by the entablature of the order, the frieze of which is charged with festoons of drapery, and mullets, and crescents, (the cognizance of the Jermyn family) alternating with each other; there are arched windows in this story, in addition to the doorway, all of which are inclosed in stone architraves, and in the upper story are arched windows, also enclosed in stone architraves, with sculptured keystones, the centre being a cherub's head, the others consoles. The east front has a spacious Venetian window in the centre; it is in heights, the lower being of the Corinthian, the upper of the composite order: in each are columns. In the aisles are oval windows. The north front only differs from the southern already described, in having a window in the place of the doorway. All the angles of the building are rusticated. The interior is in the architect's best style; the square piers on each side the nave are faced with antae, and sustain an architrave cornice of the Doric order, and a low attic, which forms the breastwork of the galleries; from the latter columns of the Corinthian order take their rise; the shafts are painted to imitate Sienna marble, with statuary capitals and bases; the outer columns on each side are engaged with the side walls; a rich entablature surmounts every column, stretching across the side aisles, and received

282

at its entrance into the wall on a corbel, the designs of which are varied; the cornice serves as an impost to a semicircular arched ceiling, which covers every intercolumniation; it is bounded towards the body of the church by an arch and dies into the side walls: the soffit of each arch is pannelled with a flower in the centre, the arch is enriched with guillochi. The central portion, or nave, is covered with a semicircular arched ceiling, divided by bands springing from the entablatures over the columns and enriched with guillochi; a festoon of drapery occurs over every lateral arch, which forms a square finish above it, and has a pleasing effect; the soffit of the ceiling is pannelled; a narrow division above the chancel is divided into small square compartments, filled with flowers and foliage, the corbels from which it springs are enriched with reliefs of the arms of lord St. Albans.

An additional gallery at the west end is constructed above the principal ; it contains the organ in a richly carved case, with seated statues of angels in lime tree, and other enrichments; on the front of the gallery is inscribed,

This organ was the gift of her excellent majesty queen Mary,

1691

.

The altar-screen is peculiarly rich; it is famed for displaying some of the finest of Gibbon's carvings. Over the centre is an elliptical pediment; in the tympanum a pelican between doves encircled in tendrils; in addition a noble festoon ending in pendants, which extend nearly the height of the screen, displays all the varied representations of fruit and flowers, in the highest relief, admirably carved in the superior style which marks all this artist's works. These carvings are in lime-tree; the altar rails were formerly a ballustrade; the pilasters marble, enriched with sculptures, and the door oak, finely carved in fillagree work by Gibbons. The ballusters at some recent repair have been replaced by handsome foliage in bronze. At a short distance from the altar-rails is the pulpit, which is situated on the south side of the nave; it is octangular, sustained on a pillar of the same form, and has a light sounding-board and canopy, surmounted by a mitre. The reading and clerk's desks, on the opposite side, are square, and are without ornaments; these, with the pulpit, are more modern than the church.

The font is composed of statuary marble; it is situated in a large pew below the western gallery; it is of very large proportion, but strikingly handsome in its decorations. The stem is carved into the form of the tree of knowledge, at the foot of which stand our parents in a state of innocence; the basin is oval and capacious; on the sides are basso-relievi of the following subjects, the whole excellently designed as indicating the fall of man, his subsequent restoration to divine favour, and his regeneration by baptism. The subject is

the temptation of Adam and Eve;

the next,

the destruction of the world by the deluge;

the dove is returning with the olive-branch; the is

the baptism of our Lord,

and the last

St. Philip baptising the eunuch.

This is of the few specimens

283

of Gibbons' art in marble; for excellence of execution it yields to no work of Greece or Rome, though it is questionable whether exquisitely sculptured basin of , , is not more delicately finished than the preset specimen. This font is in a dark and miserable situation, where its beauties cannot be viewed with satisfaction.

The great east window, from its extent of dull ground glass has a very unpleasing effect; a proposal was made as long ago as to fill it with a copy of

the Transfiguration;

in stained glass after Raphael; a subscription was commenced, and Mr. Backler of was employed to make a model; but with an apathy, disgraceful to a parish so rich as St. James's, it still remains incomplete.

The architect of this church was sir Christopher Wren: the dimensions are as follows:

  Ft.In.
Length of churchexterior950
 tower210
 church in the clear860
Breadth ofwest front736
 church in the clear670
 chancel360
Height ofsteeple1490
 church to parapet406
 interior to vault of nave500

The monuments are very numerous, but none of very eminent characters or very ancient.

In the north aisle is a neat marble monument, with a profile bust, to the memory of William Caddick, born Nov. , died .

Against of the piers in this aisle is a plain tablet to Thomas Denman, M.D. who died , aged . Under it is a similar slab to sir Richard Croft, MD. born , died .

Against a pier in the same aisle is a neat piece of sculpture, by Westmacott, representing a female reading; it is to the memory of Margaret Bruce, widow of James Hamilton, who died , aged .

At the east end of this aisle is an elegant marble tablet to the memory of the rev. Gerrard Andrewes, D. D. rector of this church; he was born , and died .

On the smith side of the altar is a neat marble monument, representing a book open; it is to the memory of James Dodsley, bookseller, and author of

The Economy of Human Life,

&c. He died , aged .

At the east end of the south aisle is a neat monument to the

284

learned Benjamin Stilling-fleet, who died , aged . Here also is a handsome monument to Henry Sydney, earl of Romney, who died , aged .

In this aisle is also a neat marble tablet erected in to the eminent physician, Thomas Sydenham.

Against the south wall of the tower, without the church, is a stone to the memory of the celebrated dramatist and poet,

Tom Durfey, dyed Feby ye

16

,

1723

.

Against the north wall of the tower, on the angle formed by the junction with the west front, is a neat monument formed of a Doric column, on a pedestal, surmounted by a coat of arms; it is in a disgraceful state of decay. Owing to neglect the inscription is now obliterated.

Against the wall is a neat slab to the memory of John Simco, bookseller, who died , aged .

The statute, erecting this district into a parish, gives the following statement, which, at this distance of time, is both curious and interesting. This parish then comprehended

all the houses and grounds, including a place heretofore called St. James's Fields, and the confines thereof, beginning at a house at the south side of the east end of Catherine (alias Pall-mall) street; the south of the roadway, called Tyburn-road, westward, to a house, being the sign of the

Plough

, at the north-west corner of a lane, called Mary-le-bone lane, including the said house; and from thence proceeding southward, on the east side of the lane to the north-west corner of Crabtree Fields, comprehending the same; and the ground from thence westward, to the north-west corner of

Ten

Acres-Field, in the occupation of Richard, earl of Burlington, or his assigns, including that field, and the highway between the same; and the garden-wall of the said earl of Burlington, to the north-west corner of the said garden-wall, including that garden, and the mansion-house of the said earl of Burlington, fronting

Portugal-street

. Towards St. James's House, to the middle channel on the south side of a new street called Park-place, comprehending all the east side of

St. James's-street

to St. James's House, and all the west side thereof, from the said middle channel downwards, as far as the same extends, and including the south side of Park-place to Cleveland-gardens, comprehending the same, and Cleveland-house, and out-buildings; and also the street which leads from the outward gale of the said house, and thence to the said Pall-mall-street, comprehending all the buildings and yards backward to the wall, which encloses part of

St. James's Park

, which hath been lately made into a garden, extending to a house inhabited by Anthony Verrio, painter; and late by Leonard Girle, gardener; and from thence to the house and garden of Thomas, earl of Sussex, including the same, together with the south side of

Warwick-street

, to the White Hart inn there.

In , westward of , is

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Described ante, vol. iii. p. 404.

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 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