St James’s Piccadilly

The West End

St James's Piccadilly

The only church (1684) Christopher Wren built from scratch and one of a handful established on a new site (most of the other London churches are replacements for those destroyed in the Great Fire), this simple building substitutes what some might call the pompous flourishes of Wren’s most famous churches with a warm and elegant accessibility. The baptismal font portraying Adam and Eve on the shaft and the altar reredos are by Grinling Gibbons.

This is a wonderfully sociable and charitable church; it houses a counselling service, provides a night shelter for the homeless in winter (they can sleep in the pews), stages lunchtime and evening concerts, and hosts a food market (10am to 3.30pm Monday and Tuesday) and an arts and crafts fair (10am to 6pm Wednesday to Saturday) in the forecourt. Note the arresting bronze Statue of Peace in the garden. It costs £1800 per day to run this generous church. Consider leaving a donation, however small.