St Mary Savoy

Another in the series on historic churches in the City of Westminster …

By the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were over a hundred parish churches and other places of Christian worship within and immediately without the walls of  the City. There were a further five in the City and Liberties of Westminster.

St Mary Savoy was the name given to the chapel attached to the Savoy Hospital when it was used as a parish church in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after St Mary-le-Strand had been demolished by Protector Somerset in 1549 (St Mary-le-Strand was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century).

The Savoy Hospital was built y a bequest from Henry VII between 1510-16, on the site of the Savoy Palace (see below).   It became a military hospital in 1642, when it was used to treat some of the wounded from the Civil War.  Parts of it later   became a military barracks and prison.  Large parts  of it were damaged by a fire in 1864, and subsequently demolished, making way  for the construction of the Savoy Theatre in 1881 and the Savoy Hotel in 1889. 

Only what is now known as the Savoy Chapel survives.  

The Savoy Palace, incidentally, was built by Henry III’s uncle, the Count of Savoie or Savoy, in 1324 – hence its name. It was later given to Edward I’s younger brother, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, and passed down from him to Henry, Duke of Lancaster, who accommodated King John of France there after the latter’s defeat at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. It then passed down to John of Gaunt in 1361, and was burned down during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

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