Queen Square Chapel

Pages 137-141

Survey of London: Volume 10, St. Margaret, Westminster, Part I: Queen Anne's Gate Area. Originally published by [s.n.], [s.l.], 1926.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section


Description of the building.

Reference has been made (see p. 104) to the fact that when Queen Square was sold by public auction in 1723 it was said to include "a Chappell … used for Divine Worship according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England." This chapel, as well as the statue of Queen Anne, the "Visto" at the end of the square, etc., was conveyed to trustees for the use and benefit in common of the purchasers of the houses. (fn. n1)

It was situated on the north side of the stable yard (Queen Square Mews), and comprised the upper floor of a building, the ground floor of which consisted of certain of the coach-houses allotted to various houses in the square. (fn. n2)

A block plan of the Chapel made in 1840, (fn. n3) and here reproduced, gives the dimensions of the site as 28 feet wide at the west end and 92 feet 6 inches deep on the north side. The latter dimension is clearly incorrect, there being no room for such a depth, (fn. n4) but the two short dimensions at the east end, viz. 18 feet 9 inches north to south and 17 feet 6 inches east to west, closely approximate to those of the present buildings as shown on the Ordnance sheet.

Figure 18:

Block plan.

According to Kip's view (Plate 77), the chapel had a tiled roof hipped at the west end, and a gable at the east end, with a small, square structure at the ridge level, which probably contained a bell. (fn. n5) Large semicircular windows are shown, with two ranges of windows in the west wall, and quoins at the angles of the building. No other records have been found to illustrate the design of the chapel, nor is any descriptive account known.

On the conversion of the interior into offices about 1888, very extensive alterations, comprising a practical rebuilding, were carried out. A new roof was supplied, and the building was divided horizontally, thus creating an additional floor.

The disposition of the windows as shown in Kip's view would favour such a division, and in fact the top portions of two old windows, 2 feet 3 inches in height, with red gauged arches, are still in existence at the west end, though they are only visible from the outside. Inside, the space has been plastered over.

The modern offices are approached by a flight of stone steps from Queen Anne's Gate. The ground floor of the premises, where the coach-houses used to be, is now occupied by garages which have their entry from Queen Square Mews.

A portion of the north wall appears to be original, and has red-brick quoins at the angle, as illustrated by Kip.

A relic of the old chapel has been preserved by the Royal Drawing Society, and is now in the entrance hall of their present premises at No. 18 Queen Anne's Gate (Plate 125). It consists of a well-executed frame of pine with two pilasters carved with the vine and enriched above with console brackets having winged cherub's heads as corbels. Each console carried a section of an elaborately enriched entablature, the two being connected by a segmental arch in the form of the upper part of a carved pediment. It has been stated that this formed part of the reredos and contained the Ten Commandments, but its form and construction rather suggest that it was a door frame. It was given to the Royal Drawing Society when they entered into possession of a portion of the premises in 1890.

In the Mews yard on the south side is a small two-storey brick cottage with a pantile roof, which probably dates from the end of the 18th century. This small cottage affords a striking contrast to the towering mass of Queen Anne's Mansions.

History of the chapel.

The earliest reference to the chapel which can be dated occurs in Hatton's New View of London in 1708. (fn. n6) A more detailed notice, (fn. n7) in 1714, runs:—

"The Chapel in Queen's Square by St. James's Park, in the Parish "of St. Margaret Westminster. This private Chapel was founded for the Use of the Tenants within Queen's Square (fn. n8) by Mr. Charles Shales, Proprietor, in 1706; it's very neat and fine, and beautified with a stately Gallery, Pulpit, and other Ornaments. Wherein are

"Prayers only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Holy Days, at eleven in the Summer Time, but every Week Day in the Winter; and Evening Prayers constantly at four; and the Holy Sacrament at usual Times.

"And Sermon every Sunday, and publick State Day, at eleven; and only Prayers at three.

"Minister. Mr. Edward Oliver."

An earlier reference even than that of Hatton, however, is probably that contained in a document among the Westminster Abbey records (fn. n9) entitled: "Proposals concerning the chapel in Queen's Square." It runs as follows:—

"The rent of the pews £170
"To the Minister £50
Clerk and under officers 20
Gate keeper 20
Repairs and incidents 10
To the Charity School 10
Ground rent 60

"The building to be invested in … trustees whereof the Minister to be one.

"Mr. Shales to be perpetual patron.

"The Minister to be licensed by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.

"All offerings at the Sacrament to be sent to the Minister and Officers of the Parish and none of the Ministry rights to be prejudiced.

"The trustees to be the Vestry; to lett the Pews, and the overplus of the Profits above the charges to be paid to the Minister."

But little of the history of the chapel is known. In 1716 it was for a time the scene of the preaching of Antonio Gavin. Gavin was a Spanish convert from Roman Catholicism, who on the recommendation of Lord Stanhope had been received into the Church of England by the Bishop of London, from whom he had obtained "leave to officiate in the Spanish "language in the Chappel of Queen's Square, Westminster." (fn. n10) According to Gavin himself his congregation consisted of "Lord Stanhope, several "English Officers and a few Spanish Officers, new Converts."

In 1748 a dispute arose between the Dean and Chapter and the ministers of the three private chapels (Duke Street Chapel, Queen Square Chapel, and the Chapel in the New Way) on the subject of the disposal of the money collected at the Communion Service, and it was stated that the ministers then in office had not been licensed. (fn. n11)

It has not been found possible to draw up anything like a complete list of chaplains. The only names which have been recovered (fn. n12) are as follows:—

Edward Oliver [1714].

Given as the minister in Pietas Londiniensis.

Thomas Baker [1748–1759].

"The Rev. Mr. Baker" was the minister at the time of the dispute with the Dean and Chapter (W.A.M., 24807), and the records of the Visitation by the latter in 1759 show that he (Thomas Baker) was still the minister, and John Maddox his assistant.

John Shepherd [1808–1820].

The parish ratebooks for the years 1808 to 1820 contain a note: "Rev. Mr. Shepperd for "Chapple." This was John Shepherd, who from 1798 held the position of lecturer at the church of St. Giles in the Fields. (fn. n13) He published A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for public worship and private devotion, more particularly designed for the use of the congregation at Queen's Square Chapel.

William Bailey, B.A. [1841–1843].

At a Visitation held on 10th October, 1842, the minister's name is given as William Bailey, (fn. n14) and William Bailey, B.A., is mentioned as the minister of Queen Square Episcopal Chapel in the issues of the Post Office Directory from 1841 to 1843.

John Flowerdew Colls, D.D. [1844].

In the issue of the Post Office Directory for 1844 John F. Colls, D.D., is given as the minister of St. Peter's, Queen Square. In 1841 he had been curate of St. John's, Hampstead, and in 1845 became incumbent of St. Anne's, Wandsworth. In 1853 he obtained the rectory of Laindon-cumBasildon, Essex. He was the author of a Vindication of Infant Baptism and of Utilitarianism Unmasked.

Richard Wilson [1846].

In the record of a visitation held on 19th October, 1846, is an entry: "Queen Square Chapel (Closed). Revd. Richard Wilson, Minister," and all the words except the last have been deleted. (fn. n15) It is probable that this was Richard Wilson, D.D., who was author of Questions on the Gospels and Acts in connection with the Greek Testament, Evening Lecturer at Chelsea Old Church and Chaplain of Chelsea Workhouse, and afterwards headmaster of St. Peter's Collegiate School, Eaton Square, but it has not been found possible to confirm this.

James Kelly, M.A. [1848–1855].

The issues of the Clergy List for the years 1850 to 1855 show James Kelly as minister of Queen Square Chapel, and that for 1855 shows him also as patron. According to Crockford for 1865 he became minister of "St. Peter's Chapel, Westminster," in 1848. He had previously held the rectories of Stillorgan and Killishee, and was in 1846–47 minister of Charlotte Chapel, Pimlico. In 1863 he became perpetual curate of St. George's, Liverpool. He was author of a number of works, including The Eternal Purpose of God, The Apocalypse interpreted in the light of the Day of the Lord, etc.

From 1855 to 1869, although "St. Peter's Episcopal Chapel" (fn. n16) appears in the Post Office Directory, no clergy are shown in connection with it, and it would seem that Kelly was the last chaplain. In the issue for 1870 the chapel drops out. For the last few years the entry had taken the form of "St. Peter's Episcopal Chapel and Ragged School," and the reference to the Ragged School was retained until 1871. In the following year "Queen Square Mission Hall" takes its place and remains until 1886, when for two years the building appears as a Police Institute. In 1889 it drops out altogether and in 1890 is replaced by offices. (fn. n17)

In the Council's Collection are:—

Queen Square Mews, general view looking north-west (photograph).
No. 2 Queen Square Mews, view looking south (photograph).
Queen Anne's Gate, showing entrance to Mews (photograph).
(fn. n18) Queen Square Chapel, wood carving from Chapel (photograph).


  • n1. Suit of Geo. and Saml. Rush, 1726. (Chancery Proceedings, C. XI., 1460/39.)
  • n2. For instance, Lord Willoughby de Broke's house (No. 26 Queen Anne's Gate) had in the stable yard "on the north side under the Chappell" a coach-house 8 feet wide and 21 feet 8 inches deep; and Nos. 28 and 30 had two, "which coach-houses are built under the Chappell there," 8 feet wide and 21 feet 6 inches deep, "adjoyning east to the Lord Willoughbyes coach-house." No. 36 had "a place of hay under the Chappell staires."
  • n3. Schedule and plans of property not hitherto rated to Sewers, Geo. Silbey, Dec., 1840. (In possession of the London County Council.)
  • n4. The "92" may possibly be a mistake for "72."
  • n5. The view by Shepherd in 1851 (Plate ) shows it as a pointed turret.
  • n6. "One in Queens Square Westminster, intended chiefly for the Tenements [? Tenants] in the New Buildings there, Anno Dom. 1706." (II., p. 579.)
  • n7. Pietas Londiniensis, p. 248.
  • n8. The statement that the chapel "was originally a royal gift for the special use of the Judges "of Westminster, and was frequented by the members of the Royal Household," occurs in Timbs' Curiosities of London, p. 214, and is itself a curiosity.
  • n9. W.A.M., 24797. The courtesy of the Dean and Chapter in arranging, at very short notice, for an investigation of their records with a view to the obtaining of particulars concerning the history of the chapel, is much appreciated.
  • n10. See terms of the Bishop's licence quoted by Gavin in the preface to A Master Key to Popery, a book described as "a farrago of lies and libels, interspersed with indecent tales" (Dictionary of National Biography), which, nevertheless, brought him great popularity.
  • n11. W.A.M., 24806.
  • n12. Of the five persons mentioned by Timbs (Curiosities of London, p. 214), viz. Romaine, Gunn, Basil Woodd, Wilcox and Shepherd, only the last mentioned has been verified, and it seems fairly certain that Romaine and Woodd at any rate did not officiate at this chapel.
  • n13. Parton's Hospital and Parish of St. Giles in the Fields, p. 410.
  • n14. Information obtained from the Bishop of London's Registry.
  • n15. Information obtained from the Bishop of London's Registry.
  • n16. It will be noticed that this title does not appear before 1844. It was apparently due to the Rev. Dr. Colls.
  • n17. This account taken from the issues of the Post Office Directory is confirmed in its main outlines by the Rev. Pomfret Waddirgton, formerly curate of Christchurch, Westminster, who has kindly informed the Council from his own recollection of events that from about 1873 to 1882 the chapel was used as a parish room by the Vicar of Christchurch. In 1888 it was altered internally and converted into offices, and a few years later was also altered externally.
  • n18. Reproduced here.