Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "Chapels Royal"

[ ... back to main menu for this book]

Chapels Royal
ST. JAMES'S. Many visitors to London think it necessary to attend divine service at the Chapel Royal. The building itself is in no way remarkable, and the service is in no way peculiar; but as it is the fashion amongst, courtiers in the season to put in an appearance here, it naturally follows that all the people who like to be thought "somebodies" eagerly compete for admission. The chapel is small, and tickets are not easily obtained without the assistance of "a friend at court." They are in the gift of the Lord Chamberlain. SAVOY.—Still a Chapel Royal, being the property of the Crown in connection with the Duchy of Lancaster. There are many quaint brasses and monuments in the chapel, but the days of embankments, of new streets, and great buildings have robbed the Savoy of its chief charm. An old brass, long missing from the chapel, was "brought to light" some time ago, and is now placed in the chancel, imbedded in a block of marble. The inscription is subjoined: "Hic jacet Thomas Halsey, Leglinensis Episcopus in Basilica Sancti Stephani Roma rationis Anglicanae penitenciarius summae probitatis vir, qui hoc solum post se reliquit vixit dum vixit bene. Cui laevus conditur Gavan Dolkglas, natione Scotus Dunkellensis. Presul patria sua exul. Anno Xti 1522." "Here lies Thomas Halsey, Bishop of Leighlin, confessor of the English nation in the church of St. Stephen at Rome, a man of the greatest probity, who left this only thing after him, while he lived he lived well. On whose left lies Gavan Dolkglas (Douglas), by birth a Scot, Bishop of Dunkeld, an exile from his native land." "This is no place for moral reflections, but it is impossible not to remark on the strange irony which has connected these two men together in their death, and that one of the greatest prelates of his age—a man almost of royal birth, a poet of the first rank, a minister of the highest power— should be thus linked in the grave with an obscure seminary priest of questionable character, to whom he is indebted by the accident of their common fate, for even the parenthetical line which marks his last resting-place." A curious and interesting picture—a third part of "a Tryptich "—is now placed in the chapel by the side of the font. It is known that three pictures belonged to the Savoy at its dissolution, and this picture has every appearance of being of the period of Henry VII. Much interesting matter referring to the Savoy is published in the "Savoy Annual. The old "precinct," of not many years since, was like a bit of an old cathedral town dropped in some strange way between the Strand and the river, and it was difficult even for an imaginative Londoner to suppose, as he paced the calm solitudes of the Savoy, that he was only some fifty yards from the rush and strife of the busiest London life.
WHITEHALL—The Chapel Royal at Whitehall is all that remains of the old Palace, and was adapted from the Banqueting House designed by Inigo Jones. Service is performed here on Sundays, but, except on one day the year, there is nothing peculiar to note in connection with the chapel. On the Thursday preceding Good Friday the distribution of the Royal Bounty, or "Maundy Money," to a number of old men and women corresponding to the age of the Sovereign takes place here. The procession on the occasion is one of the quaintest relics of old-fashioned Court ceremonial to be seen in London. The royal gifts are brought into the chapel by the Yeomen of the Guard on a William and Mary salver, and are then deposited in front of the Royal Closet, which is usually occupied by some of the Royal Family. A special service is held on the occasion, and at certain intervals the gifts are distributed. They consist of sums of money, shoes and stockings, woollen and linen clothes, purses, &c.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879