St John the Baptist Savoy - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St John the Baptist Savoy

• The Savoy Chapel or the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy is off the Strand, and is dedicated to St John the Baptist. It was originally built in the Middle Ages off the main church of the Savoy Palace (later the Savoy Hospital). The Hospital was in ruins by the 19th century, and the Chapel was the only part to survive demolition.

• The original chapel was within Peter of Savoy's palace and was destroyed along with it in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The present Chapel building was constructed in the 1490s (and finished in 1512) by Henry VII as a side chapel off his Hospital's 200-foot long nave (this nave was secular rather than sacred, held 100 beds, and was demolished in the 19th century).

• The chapel has been the host to various other congregations, most especially that of St Mary-le-Strand when it had no church building of its own. The German Lutheran congregation of Westminster (now at Sandwich Street and Thanet Street, near St Pancras) was granted royal permission to worship here, when it split from Holy Trinity (the City of London Lutheran congregation, now at St Anne and St Agnes). The new congregation's first pastor, Irenaeus Crusius (previously an associate at Holy Trinity), dedicated the chapel on the 19th Sunday after Trinity 1694 as the Marienkirche or the German Church of St. Mary-Le-Savoy.

• As an Anglican church, the chapel was noted in the 18th century as a place where marriages without banns might illegally occur, and was referred to in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited as "the place where divorced couples got married in those days, a poky little place". Most of the stained glass windows in the chapel were destroyed in the Blitz. However, a triptych stained glass memorial window survives, depicting a procession of Angelic musicians, dedicated to the memory of Richard D'Oyly Carte (who was married in the chapel in 1888), which was unveiled by Sir Henry Irving in 1902. The chapel is open to public worship on certain days.

• This Chapel has always been royal property as part of the Savoy Hospital complex and is now the property of the monarch as part of the Duchy of Lancaster and as a ‘peculiar’ its Chaplain is appointed by the Duchy. It was made the chapel of the Royal Victorian Order in 1937 (its chaplain being chaplain to the order also) and in effect ‘parish church’ to the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster's principal London land holding. Its costs and maintenance are met by the Duchy, with recent work including the landscaping of the gardens in honour of Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee, and the restoration of the chapel ceiling in 1999.

• A three manual J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd organ was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, having been designed by William Cole. The trebles in the Savoy Choir either join in Year 6 (while still at primary school) or join after a voice test in year 7 at St Olave's Grammar School. Choristers who join the choir in year 6 gain a place at St Olave's, provided they pass an academic test.


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