St James's Church, Spanish Place, is a large English Gothic Roman Catholic

church in Marylebone, London. Although currently situated in George Street, the
church maintains its connection with Spanish Place, the road opposite the current
church, because of its historic connection with the Spanish Embassy. It is grade
II* listed with Historic England.[1]

Contents [hide]

1 Site

2 History

3 Architecture

4 Liturgy

5 Organ

6 Transport connections

7 See also

8 References

9 External links


The church is located in George Street, Marylebone, behind the Wallace
Collection and close to Marylebone High Street.


Cross of St. James, badge of the Order of Santiago.

In the reign of Elizabeth I the Bishops of Ely let their palace and chapel in Ely
Place to the Spanish Ambassador and, until the reign of Charles I, it was occupied
by the High Representative of the Court of Spain. During this period the chapel
(now St Etheldreda's Church) was freely used by English Roman Catholics and
became a sanctuary to some degree for them.[2]

After the restoration of Charles II the Spanish Embassy was re-established in
London, first on Ormond Street and then at Hertford House, Manchester Square,
where the Wallace Collection is now housed. Here, in 1793-96,[3] shortly after
the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 repealed some of the laws affecting Catholic
worship, a chapel was built to designs by Joseph Bonomi on the corner of Spanish

Soon after he had redeemed his promise the site of the present church. partially completed. was opened on Michaelmas Day. that the Rector towards the end of the lease. One tradition has it. The consecration had been planned on two previous occasions but had had to be postponed – in 1935 because of the death of Cardinal Francis Bourne. One of the requirements for a church to be consecrated is for all of the debts incurred in its construction and the purchase of the land it is built upon to have been repaid. but there are preserved in the Church both baptismal and marriage Registers dating back to 1732. The site was purchased and the design for a new church was made an open competition. however. immediately opposite the old chapel. and in 1940 because of the Second World War. As such. In 1827 the official Spanish connection with the chapel ceased and it was handed over to the London Vicariate. came up for sale at £30. and the parishioners of Spanish Place have never forgotten their debt to Spain for having established and maintained the mission in the dark days. the exact sum which Barry and his predecessors had collected towards a new church. 1890. won the competition and the present edifice. largely through the efforts of Doctor Thomas Hussey. and thus consecrated his own church. An unofficial connection with the Embassy of Spain has continued and is still cherished by the Church of St James today. but as the neighbourhood was almost entirely divided up into large estates. had a great devotion to the Holy Souls and he promised a hundred Masses for their repose in petition for a site.Place and Charles Street (now George Street). [6] Most of the archives of the old Spanish Chapel have gone to Spain. Signor Joseph Bonomi. Most of the objects of piety in the present church are legacies from this older building. there is much in the present church of its Spanish heritage including Alfonso XIII's personal standard which is in a frame over the sacristy door.[4] A recurring anxiety from 1827 was the fact that the chapel was on leasehold property and the lease was not renewable. who had been a chaplain at the embassy since his ordination in 1769. However. Edward Goldie. the church was consecrated on 28 July 1949 by Bishop George Craven:[5] a rare privilege for at that time he was parish priest and rector. it seemed impossible to find a site anywhere near the old chapel. Canon William Barry.000.[citation needed] Architecture[edit] . great-grandson of the architect of the old chapel. Funds were raised with a view to purchasing a site and building a new church.

The sanctuary floor is golden mosaic. It is completely covered with gold leaf except for the shoes which are red. The arches of the nave are supported by pillars enriched with marble colonettes. The centre panel portrays the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Our Lady and the Apostles while the other six contain symbols of sacrificial and sacramental aspects of the Holy Eucharist.[7] The Gothic chancel is one of the most artistic in London with a high arch rising to the groined roof of the nave. towards the centre of the church. The church entrance in George Street is a copy of the main entrance to Lichfield Cathedral while throughout the church are many details taken from the best type of the English 13th century Gothic style as exemplified. upon the whole building. Queen of Heaven. on one side St James. The church is orientated contrary to usual church building practice. on the other St Anne. such that during the celebration of the morning liturgy the priest and congregation face towards the rising sun. As the groining is artistically so perfect nowhere does the weight of stone produce a feeling of oppressiveness. Patron of the Church. The apse is heptagonal and has in its lower half seven pointed arches filled with opus sectile. In the canopied niches at the ends are gilt bronze statues. High on the wall on the epistle (Blandford Street) side of the church is the large marble statue of Saint James the Greater. he carries the staff and bread wallet of the pilgrim. a symbol of Christ and the Second Coming. The church is of early Gothic design. (yet in contrast to the nave which is manifestly English Gothic) and is at once reminiscent of the finest French cathedrals. Built entirely of stone it has a purity of line that confers a true sense of majesty. especially in its height. Traditionally churches are constructed facing east. taken from the Old Testament.The interior of the church Alternate interior view. Above is a gilt hexagonal canopy and suspended behind this is a corona of rock crystals which is lowered over the monstrance during Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.[8] Liturgy[edit] . stands the statue of Our Lady. It was made locally by a stonemason in 1840 and is reputed to be the second statue to be erected in a London church after the Reformation. Across from the statue. Besides the sword and palm that symbolize his martyrdom. It was beneath these that places were always given to King Alfonso and Queen Ena of Spain when they attended the church. for instance. High on the wall above the choir stalls can be seen two built-in gilt crowns. at Salisbury Cathedral and in parts of Westminster Abbey.

Samuel Green) originally in the Spanish Chapel. the recitation of the Rosary. Organ[edit] The organ.Vatican banner. . Solemn Mass in Latin is celebrated with the full professional choir and organ accompanying with a combination of polyphony and Gregorian chant. situated in the triforium above the sanctuary. was built in 1922 by Alfred Hunter and Sons of Clapham. it was voiced by the builder in the church and remains today exactly in its original tonal design. The church has a particular charism in relation to the Sacrament of Confession which is offered daily at set times. London. Hunter built a number of very fine instruments throughout the country but the one in St James's is regarded by organists and organ builders as the finest example of his superb craftsmanship. Five ranks of pipes were retained from the Gray & Davison organ (previously by the famous eighteenth century builder. The present organ has fifty three ranks of pipes on three manuals and pedals. such as Holy Hours and Benediction. Other devotions contribute to the liturgical life of the parish. Because of the striking and unusual acoustics of the building. On Sundays and major feast days. This is supplemented by the occasional celebration of Solemn Vespers which enriches the liturgical cycle of the parish. Mass is celebrated in the church in both the ordinary and the authorised 1962 extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Wind pressures are from three and a half inches for flue-work to ten inches for the heavy reeds. and the Stations of the Cross.