Savoy Chapel

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Savoy Chapel
East aspect of the Savoy Chapel, London WC2
51°30′38″N 0°07′12″W / 51.5105°N 0.1199°W / 51.5105; -0.1199Coordinates: 51°30′38″N 0°07′12″W / 51.5105°N 0.1199°W / 51.5105; -0.1199
Status Church
Architect(s) Unknown[1]
Length 200 ft (61 m) (nave)
Materials Stone
Bishop(s) none
Chaplain(s) The Revd Peter Galloway OBE JP

The Savoy Chapel or the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy is a chapel off the Strand, London, 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 to allow construction of an approach road to Waterloo Bridge.

The Chapel is a private chapel of Her Majesty The Queen in right of her Duchy of Lancaster and not subject to the jurisdiction of a bishop. It is a Grade II* Listed Building.[2]


The original chapel was within Peter of Savoy's palace and was destroyed 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 (61 m) long nave (the nave was secular rather than sacred, held 100 beds and was demolished in the 19th century).

The Savoy Chapel has hosted various other congregations, most notably that of St Mary-le-Strand whilst it had no church building of its own (1549–1714). Also the German Lutheran congregation of Westminster (now at Sandwich Street and Thanet Street, near St Pancras[3]) was granted Royal permission to worship at the chapel when it split from Holy Trinity (the City of London Lutheran congregation, now at St Anne and St Agnes).[4] 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.

An Anglican church, the chapel was noted in the 18th century as a place where marriages without banns might occur outside of the usual parameters of ecclesiastical law at that time,[5] 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".[6] In 1753, Archibald Cameron of Locheil, the last Jacobite leader to be executed for treason, was buried there.

Most of the chapel's stained glass windows were destroyed in the London Blitz during World War II. However, a triptych stained glass memorial window survives which depicts a procession of angelic musicians. It is dedicated to the memory of Richard D'Oyly Carte (who was married at the chapel in 1888) and was unveiled by Sir Henry Irving in 1902. After their respective deaths, the names of Rupert D'Oyly Carte and Dame Bridget D'Oyly Carte were added.[7]


Plantagenet Royal Coat of Arms
Interior, 2012

The chapel has been royal property for centuries as part of the Savoy Hospital estate and remains under the aegis of the monarch as part of the Duchy of Lancaster; a royal peculiar. The chaplain is appointed by the Duchy (and since 1937 as chaplain of the Royal Victorian Order also) and, in effect, it is "parish church" to the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster's principal London land holding. Armorial plaques of GCVOs past and present are displayed in the chapel.

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

Most of the chapel's costs and maintenance are met by the Duchy, with recent works including landscaping of its garden in honour of Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 and restoration of the chapel ceiling in 1999. The chapel was further refurbished and a new stained glass window commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in November 2012.

The Savoy Chapel uses the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. Services are held on Sundays, members of the public are welcome to attend, and the chapel is open to the public from Monday to Thursday.[8]