Hospital Chapel, St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood

The Stunning Chapel Hidden in a London Hospital

St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in St John’s Wood might seem just like any other private hospital.

St John and St Elizabeth Hospital, St John's Wood

However, open one door along a corridor and you’re in for a treat. You appear to have stepped into Rome!

Hospital Chapel, St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood

The chapel was built between 1862-3 and designed by George Goldie.

But it gets strange when you learn that this wasn’t even its original location. 

It began life on Great Ormond Street and you can see ‘R.C Chapel Seats for 200’ on the 1893-6 OS map below (just above the ‘Ormond’ of Great Ormond Street).

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

In 1898 the whole chapel was dismantled and rebuilt by Edward Goldie, son of George.

Viewed from Circus Road, you can easily make out the chapel’s stone exterior as part of the hospital.

Image Credit: public domain

But when approaching through the main entrance – especially off a very ordinary corridor – it comes as quite the surprise!

The hospital itself was founded in 1856 and known as the Great Ormond Street Hospital of St Elizabeth.

It was placed in the care of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and the chapel was the idea of Sir George Boyer, a member of the order.

The order of St John was founded back in 1080 and parts of their London headquarters in Clerkenwell -amazingly – still exist.

It is well worth a visit to their museum. We also talk about the history and see parts on the Smithfield: Guts and Glory walk

Order of St John's Gatehouse, Clerkenwell
The Gatehouse of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell

Back to our hospital chapel, inside you can see the Maltese cross (symbol of the Order of St John) absolutely everywhere.

Hospital Chapel, St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood

No expense seems to have been spared for the chapel, there are Corinthian pilasters made of red Sicilian jasper, marble plinths and gilded capitals.

Hospital Chapel, St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood

Of course it’s fairly usual for hospitals to have a chapel (or at least a space dedicated for prayers) but they’re not always as gorgeous as this!

Another example that does spring to mind is the Fitzrovia Chapel which I’ve written about here.

I found it fairly easy to visit the chapel, simply asking at the reception and they kindly pointed me in the right direction. The hospital is private and also connected to the St John’s Hospice.

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