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