Site Unseen: The Savoy Chapel

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

Just south of the Strand approached by a quiet street leading down to the Thames, or via a seedy maintenance tunnel beneath the Savoy Hotel one finds The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy.

[O]nce this area was a hospital for the poor founded by Henry VII and the hospital’s chapel was completed 1512, now the Savoy Chapel is the sole survivor of the hospital.

Curiously The Queen is The Duke of Lancaster (not, despite her sex, Duchess) and the Savoy Chapel is the Duchy’s only working church even though the Duchy is one of the country’s largest landowners, with its revenues going to the Crown since the 13th century.

At all services the National Anthem is sung with the variation “Long live our noble Duke”, a rather curious anomaly.

The church is also the ‘Chapel of the Royal Victorian Order’, though much of its interior was destroyed by fire during the mid-eighteen hundreds, just when, presumably it was dedicated to that august order.

Further curiosities include that the Chapel is a place where marriages can take place without the banns, in contravention to the usual parameters of ecclesiastical law.

It was referred to in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited as ‘the place where divorced couples got married in those days—a poky little place’.

Another curiosity is that in 1890 the Savoy Chapel became the first church in London to be lit by electricity.

A comprehensive history and interior photos of the Savoy Chapel can be found on the Chapel’s own website.

2 thoughts on “Site Unseen: The Savoy Chapel”

    1. If Her Maj is a ‘Duke’ what does that make the Duke of Edinburgh, a Duchess?
      Yes I was surprised at finding that little gem. Thanks for your comment.


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