James Edmeston

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St Paul's, Onslow Square
St Paul's, Onslow Square 01.JPG
51°29′30″N 0°10′29″W / 51.4916°N 0.1746°W / 51.4916; -0.1746Coordinates: 51°29′30″N 0°10′29″W / 51.4916°N 0.1746°W / 51.4916; -0.1746
LocationOnslow Square, London
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Architect(s)James Edmeston
Years built1860
DioceseDiocese of London
Episcopal areaKensington (Bishop of Kensington)
ArchdeaconryArchdeaconry of Middlesex
DeaneryDeanery of Chelsea

James Edmeston (10 September 1791 – 7 January 1867) was an English architect and surveyor; he was also known as a prolific writer of church hymns.

He was born in Wapping, Middlesex, England. His maternal grandfather was the Reverend Samuel Brewer, congregationalist pastor at Stepney Meeting House for 50 years. However, James was attracted to the Church of England and soon became an Anglican.[1]

Architectural work[edit]

Edmeston began as an architect in 1816. He designed several structures in London, including drinking fountains and St Paul's, Onslow Square. George Gilbert Scott was his pupil, articled to Edmedston in 1827.[2] In 1864 he built Columbia Wharf, Rotherhithe, the first grain silo in a British port.

"Charity" sculpture by Jules Dalou, incorporated into a drinking fountain by James Edmeston, behind the Royal Exchange, London

Literary work[edit]

Edmeston started by writing poetry publishing The Search, and other Poems in 1817.

Ecclesiastical and charity career[edit]

He served as the church warden at St. Barnabas in Homerton, Middlesex, and was a strong supporter of and frequent visitor to the London Orphan Asylum. Edmeston is said to have written 2000 hymns, one every Sunday.[1] His best-known hymn is the popular wedding hymn 'Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us / O'er the world's tempestuous sea'. The hymn has been set to several tunes, one of which, Mannheim, is by German composer Friedrich Filitz.[3]

He died in Homerton in 1867.


  1. ^ a b Julian, John. "James Edmeston". Hymnary.org. Harry Plantinga. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  2. ^ Howard Colvin (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840. John Murray. pp. 281–2. ISBN 0-7195-3328-7.
  3. ^ Anderson, Donald; Donaldson, Andrew, eds. (1997). "Hymn 647 Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us". Book of Praise. Presbyterian Church in Canada. p. 830. ISBN 0969990014. OCLC 1015434458.