UK Genealogy Archives logo

St James, Westminster, Middlesex

Historical Description

James, St, Westminster, a parish in Middlesex. It forms all a compact portion of the metropolis, lies 1¾ mile W by S of St Paul's, includes St James' Square, Golden Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly to Burlington Arcade, Regent Street to the Circus, and numerous fashionable streets and places. St James' Palace and St James' Park are not in this parish, but in that of St Martin-in-the-Fields. St James' Square is in the SW part of the parish, was built in 1674-90, has in the centre a bronze equestrian statue of William III. by the Bacons, erected in 1808, and includes among the edifices on its sides the London Library, the mansions of the Bishop of London, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Derby, and other members of the aristocracy. Pall Mall goes from the foot of Haymarket west-sonth-westward past the S side of St James' Square, to the foot of St James' Street; took its name from a game introduced to England in the time of Charles I., or perhaps in that of James I.; was the first street in London lighted with gas, and was first lighted with it on 28 Jan., 1807. It includes among its houses the United Service Club, the Athenaeum Club, the Travellers' Club, the Eeform Club, the Carlton Club, the Unionist Club, the National Conservative Club, the Marlborongh Club, the site of Nell Gwynne's house, the Oxford and Cambridge Club, the Guards' Club, and Marl-borough House-the death-place of the great Duke of Marl-borough, and the residence of the Prince of Wales. St James' Street goes from Pall Mall north-north-westward to Piccadilly; was the scene of Blood's attempt on the Duke of Ormond; and includes Brooks' Club, the Conservative Club, Arthur's Club, New University Club, The Thatched-House Club, White's Club, Boodle's Club, the Cocoa-Tree Club, the Junior Army and Navy Club, the Devonshire Club (formerly Crock-ford's), the house in which Lord Byron lodged in 1811, and the sites of the houses in which Sir Eichard Steele lived and the historian Gibbon died. St James' Place, off the W side of St James' Street, contains Spencer House, the house of Rogers the poet, and other mansions overlooking the Green Park. St James' Hall, in Piccadilly, was built in 1858 for musical performances for the W end of London; contains two halls on the ground-floor, the one 60 feet by 60, the other 60 feet by 55; has a great hall on the first floor, 136 feet long, 60 wide, and 60 high; and is decorated, especially on the roof, in a chastely beautiful style. St James' Theatre stands in King Street, at the back of Pall Mall, was built by Braham the singer, and has been greatly improved during recent years. Acreage of parish, 163; population, 24, 995. Every census taken since 1851 has shown a decrease in the number of houses and in population. This has been caused partly by the conversion of private houses into warehouses or workshops, and partly by the removal of shopkeepers with their families to reside in the suburbs away from their places of business. A detached plot, comprising a burial-ground and chapel, lies isolated within the parish of St Pancras.

The parish was formed in 1685 out of St Martin's-in-the-Fields; it is now ecclesiastically divided into St James, a rectory, gross yearly value, £1300, in the gift of the Bishop of London and the Crown alternately; St John the Baptist, Great Marlborough Street, a vicarage, gross yearly value, £150; St Luke, Berwick Street, a vicarage, gross yearly value, £300; St Peter, Great Windmill Street, a perpetual curacy, net yearly value, £33; St Philip, Regent Street, a perpetual curacy, gross yearly value, £350; and St Thomas, Regent Street, a perpetual curacy, gross yearly value, £300 -all the five preceding livings being in the gift of the Rector of St James', and all being in the diocese of London. St James' Church stands in Piccadilly; was built in 1682-84 by Christopher Wren, at the expense of Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans; shows an ungainly exterior of red brick with stone quoins, surmounted by a spire 149 feet high; has a symmetrical, airy, and elegant interior; and contains a carved marble font by Grinling Gibbons, a beautiful altar-piece by the same artist, a very fine organ made for James II., and some modern painted windows representing the Passion and other scenes. The vestry contains interesting portraits of the rectors, among which are those of Samuel Clarke, the theological author, and of Tenison and Wake, afterwards Archbishops of Canterbury. The register records the baptisms of the polite Earl of Chesterfield, the great Earl of Chatham, and Princess Charlotte. The churchyard contains the graves or monuments of Cotton, the associate ofIzaakWalton'; Syden-ham the physician; Vandervelde the painter; D'Urfey the dramatist; Henry Sydney, Earl of Romney; Arbnthnot, the friend of Pope and Swift; Akenside the poet; Gilray the caricaturist; and Sir John Malcolm, the soldier and diplomatists See also LONDON.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Middlesex is online.