Tag Archives: piccadilly

The font of St James’s Church, Piccadilly

22 Jul

One of the most outstanding features inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London was the beautifully carved white marble font.

St James's Church font

The font is said to have been installed in 1686 and to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, and is described on the church website as:

an ovoid bowl raised on a stem realistically carved to represent the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent entwined about it, Adam standing on one side and Eve on the other. The bowl is decorated with three kidney-shaped panels carved in low relief to represent (a) the Baptism of Christ, (b) St. Philip baptising the Eunuch of Candace, (c) Noah’s Ark afloat

I mentioned yesterday that four of the children of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN were baptised in this church, they were:

  • 29 Apr 1851 – Eliza KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his second wife Eliza WARREN
  • 30 Jul 1854 – Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM (my 2x great grandmother)
  • 22 Jun 1856 – Abraham Graham KINGHORN son of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM
  • 26 Dec 1858 – Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM

Most of the fonts that I have come across previously have been in country churches, and whilst many of them are a lot older than this one, none of them have been quite so beautifully carved. It is wonderful for me to think that such a beautiful piece of sculpture was probably used during the baptism of my 2x great grandmother and of her siblings.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London

21 Jul

This weekend was the first time I have set foot inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. I have passed it many times before without realising that there was an ancestral connection to the church.

The connection is through the KINGHORN family, more precisely my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN. Four of his children were baptised here between 1851 and 1858, and he married his third wife (Isabella GRAHAM) here in 1853.

St James's Church, Piccadilly

It is slightly annoying that it seems impossible to actually get a photo of the entire building. It is sandwiched between two roads and encircled by buildings, with a small market on the northern side of the churchyard, and some trees on the western side. Bing Maps provides a wonderful view of the church and it’s surroundings.

From the outside it seemed quite a small building, tall but not particularly long or wide. Inside the main body of the church it becomes obvious that this is not the case. I had expected it to be quite cramped and dark, but instead it was light and spacious.

St James's Church interior

It certainly changed my views of what an urban church was like, although I need to remember that this church has seen much restoration, after all it was nearly destroyed during the Second World War. Not only is it a beautiful church but it has a remarkable history, as architects go you can’t get much better than Sir Christopher Wren.

Hopefully one day I will have time to visit the church again and spend a little longer enjoying the peaceful atmosphere inside whilst the world rushes past outside.

Day tripping genealogist

17 Jul

I was back up in London today, not walking (well not proper walking) or visiting an archive, but being a tourist, along with thousands of other people. My wife and I spent the day looking around London, but I just couldn’t help taking her on a tour of some of the sights of KINGHORN interest in the City of Westminster.

London Eye

So as well as seeing the sights like the London Eye (pictured above) and taking a cruise down the Thames to Greenwich, we also popped into St James’s Church, Piccadilly, which is the first time I have actually been inside (but more about that another day).

St James's Church, Piccadilly from Swallow Street

We passed through several of the other streets nearby where the KINGHORN family lived, including Meard Street pictured below. When the KINGHORNs were living here this part of the street was known as Meards Court, but it is now all one street.

Meards Court, Soho

LONDON: Genealogy sightseeing from a London bus

14 Jun

I had noticed several buses passing the top of the road at the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, and thought that it would be a good idea to find one heading south, which would take me closer to Victoria railway station and home.

I walked a short way down the street and found the bus stop, and as luck would have it there was a bus direct to Victoria, the number 38. I had just missed one (I had seen it going past as I walked to the bus stop) and back home in rural West Sussex that would normally mean waiting another hour (or sometimes two) for the next one. Fortunately here in London the timetable said it would only be 4 to 6 minutes.

It has been a while since I travelled on a London bus, not that it is much different from any other bus, except that this one announced the upcoming stops to passengers. Anyway I sat down an relaxed, and before long we were stuck in traffic, but at least I was seeing more of the streets of London than I would on the Underground.

I sitting back enjoying the world outside the bus when I realised we were heading through the streets of Westminster, the area where Thomas KINGHORN (my 3x great grandfather) had lived. I strained to see the street names, trying to spot one I recognised.

We must have been travelling down Shaftesbury Avenue, because we turned left into Great Windmill Street (or one end of it) and I realised we were in the street where Thomas KINGHORN had lived! Not that much remained from the time when he was living here, but it was nice to be there anyway.

A bit further along I guessed we would pass the St James’s Church, Piccadilly and sure enough we did. I caught a brief glimpse of the church and the colourful market outside, the church where four of Thomas KINGHORN’s children had been baptised, including my 2x great grandmother Dorothy Isabella.

I could go home happy now, in fact I was over the moon, my escape by bus from Underground mayhem had turned into a genealogical sightseeing trip!

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