You may well be tempted to give this church the miss, as you walk down Piccadilly on you way to other more significant attractions. And you may not even spot it at all, as it’s tucked away behind a little street market, the market stalls somewhat obscuring its presence. It’s certainly not one of London’s grandest or largest churches (and there are many of those), but it is quite historically significant, and for that reason alone worth a visit. The church was designed and built by Britain’s most highly acclaimed architect, Sir Christopher Wren. It’s one of some 50 churches he was responsible for, after the Great Fire of London in 1666. St James Piccadilly was consecrated in 1684. It suffered bomb damage in the first phase of the Blitz in 1940, and was fully restored.
The exterior is quite plain - a red brick structure trimmed with Portland stone. But step inside and you will find and extremely aesthetically pleasing interior, with graceful arches and curves that are balanced and symmetrical. Galleries are supported by square pillars, which continue up as Corinthian columns to the ceiling. The main arched ceiling is tastefully and simply trimmed to create a really elegant and light interior. I thought it quite beautiful, and pleased I stopped by. There are many notable memorials and burials in the church.
It’s a community church with and outreach to a wide range of minority groups, including the LGBT community, and those seeking asylum. It also has a schedule of concerts, and has hosted some notable contemporary musicians in the past.
It’s worth a visit!