A Royal Peculiar (or Royal Peculier) is a parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies, and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch.
A "peculiar" is applied to those ecclesiastical districts, parishes, chapels or churches that are outside the jurisdiction of the bishop and archdeacon of the diocese in which they are situated. They include the separate or "peculiar" jurisdiction of the monarch, another archbishop, bishop or the dean and chapter of a cathedral also the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitallers. An Archbishop's Peculiar is subject to the direct jurisdiction of an Archbishop and a Royal Peculiar is subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch.
The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times. Later it reflected the relationship between the Norman and Plantagenet kings and the English church. Most Peculiars survived the Reformation but, with the exception of Royal Peculiars, were finally abolished during the 19th century by Act of Parliament and became subject to the jurisdiction of the diocese that they were in. The majority of Royal Peculiars that remain are situated within the Diocese of London.
Royal Peculiars of the present day
- The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster commonly known as Westminster Abbey, and containing the Henry VII Chapel which is the chapel of the Order of the Bath.
- The chapels associated with the Chapel Royal, which refers not to a building but to an establishment in the Royal Household; a body of priests and singers to explicitly serve the spiritual needs of the Sovereign.
- The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, exempt from any bishop's jurisdiction and a private chapel of the sovereign in right of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is the chapel of The Royal Victorian Order. The number of members of the order in recent years has outgrown the available space in the Savoy Chapel so the service for those who have received awards is now held in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle every four years.
- The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft - the crypt of the former St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of Westminster is also a Royal Peculiar. The building is administered through the Lord Great Chamberlain and Black Rod and it has no dedicated clergy: by convention services were conducted by the Rector of St Margaret's, Westminster, a member of the Chapter of Westminster Abbey. In 2010 the Speaker of the House of Commons used his right of appointment to nominate an outsider, Revd. Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
- The Royal Foundation of St Katharine founded in 1147 by Queen Matilda as a religious community and medieval hospital for poor infirm people next to the Tower of London.
- St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, the chapel of the Order of the Garter.
- Royal Chapel of All Saints (in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park)
- The Peculiar (or Peculier) of Masham
- St Mary-le-Bow
- Christ Church, Oxford
- The Peculiar of Charterhouse
The following chapels of the Inns of Court are extra-diocesan, and therefore peculiars, but not Royal:
- The Peculiar of the Temple Church
- The Peculiar of Lincoln's Inn
- The Peculiar of Gray's Inn
Former Royal Peculiars
- Canons of Dover Priory until 1130
- Holy Trinity, Minories, London until 1730
- St. Mary and St. Alkelda, Middleham until 1845
- Wimborne Minster 1318 – 1846
- St. Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton 1479 – 1846
- The Deanery of St. Buryan comprising St Buryan's Church in St. Buryan, St. Sennen's Church, Sennen, and St. Levan's Church, St. Levan until 1850
- The Deanery of Bridgnorth until 1856
- Dorchester Abbey 1536-1837
- The Collegiate Church & Royal Free Chapel of St Mary the Virgin, St Mary's Church, Shrewsbury,until 1856
- St Mary's Church, Stafford
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- Deanery of Westminster - extra-parochial places
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- Listing and description from Anglicans Online