St Christopher's Chapel, Great Ormond Street Hospital

St Christopher's Chapel is the chapel of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England. It is a grade II* listed building and is noted for its highly decorated interior.

St Christopher's Chapel
St Christopher's Chapel, Great Ormond St Hospital, London, UK - Diliff.jpg
Interior of the chapel
51°31′20″N 0°07′16″W / 51.5222°N 0.121°W / 51.5222; -0.121
LocationGreat Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, London
DedicationSaint Christopher
Consecrated18 November 1875
by Alfred Barry
Functional statusHospital chapel
Heritage designationGrade II*
Designated10 March 1980
Architect(s)Edward Middleton Barry


Great Ormond Street Hospital was built from 1871 to 1876, and the chapel was completed in 1875.[1][2] It had been designed by Edward Middleton Barry who donated his work to the hospital in memory of one of his children who had died in infancy.[1][3] The chapel cost £60,000 to build.[4] The chapel is a small rectangle with an apse at its east end.[1] Its interior is highly decorated.[5] The chapel was consecrated on 18 November 1875 by Canon Alfred Barry, later Bishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia.[4]

On 10 March 1980, the chapel was designated a grade II* listed building.[1]

Due to its listed status, the chapel could not be demolished when the old hospital building was knocked down in the 1980s.[2] It was decided that the whole chapel would be moved to a new site.[2] This was done by encasing the chapel in a large, water-proof box and underpinning with a concrete raft.[2][6] Having emptied the interior of all its furniture and removed the stained glass windows, the now encased chapel was lowered from the first floor to the ground floor.[2] It was then moved by hydraulic rams to its new location;[2] this is "thought to be the largest en bloc transportation of a structure ever undertaken".[6] Six years after it was moved and after extensive renovation, the chapel was re-opened on 14 February 1994 by Diana, Princess of Wales.[2]

Present dayEdit

The "Teddy Bear Choir" behind the altar.

The chapel is open at all times.[7] There is a service of morning prayer at 10:30am during the week (Monday to Friday), and a service of Holy Communion on Wednesdays.[8]

Along the rear of the chapel is a row of teddy bears and other soft toys, provided by families of ill children, known as the Teddy Bear Choir.[5] In addition, the chapel has a prayer tree where messages of hope and support can be written for sick children at the hospital, and placed on the tree.[9]


The doorway leaving St Christopher's Chapel

The chapel has been described as of the Franco-Italianate style and was influenced by the Renaissance Revival.[1][3] The chapel "is divided by four columns, and has a central dome, with an apse at the east end".[5] The terrazzo floor was designed by Antonio Salviati, an Italian mosaicist, and is said to be influenced by a pavement in St Mark's Basilica, Venice.[2]

The interior is highly decorated with many of its images referring to childhood.[5] The central dome is "painted with musician angels around the rim and pelican in piety" in its centre.[1] The apse windows are stained glass designed by Clayton and Bell, and depict the childhood of Jesus Christ.[1] The ceiling of the apse is decorated with eight angels (Faith, Truth, Patience, Purity, Obedience, Charity, Honour and Hope) with a central roundel depicting the Lamb and flag.[1]

There are a number of Bible quotes with accompanying murals decorating the walls. These include "Suffer little children to come unto me" (Luke 18:16) and "feed my lambs + feed my sheep" (John 21:16).[1][5] Above the door it states: "I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the House of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1)


There are a number of memorial plaques on the walls of the chapel. They include:

  • Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet (1860–1937), novelist and playwright, author of Peter Pan. He gave the copyright to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929.[10]
  • William Henry Barry (1823–1880), who endowed the chapel[4]
  • Charles Dickens, author and early fundraiser for the hospital.[11]
  • Lt Col Alexander Simpson-Smith, RAMC (1900–1942). He was a surgeon at the hospital but volunteered for the British Army during the Second World War. He died in 1942 while serving in Egypt.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Historic England. "Great Ormond Street Hospital Chapel in Central Block (1113211)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lunnon, Raymond J. "The Chapel of St. Christopher" (pdf). Great Ormond Street Hospital. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b G. W. Burnet, 'Barry, Edward Middleton (1830–1880)', rev. David G. Blissett, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 16 June 2017
  4. ^ a b c Baldwin, Nicholas (14 May 2017). "The Barry Family: A Victorian Architectural Dynasty and Great Ormond Street". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Banerjee, Jacqueline. "St Christopher's Chapel, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London, by E. M. Barry". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b Mann, Sebastian (12 December 2015). "Give to GOSH: Grade II-listed St Christopher's Chapel partially modelled on St Mark's Square and loved by Oscar Wilde". Evening Standard. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ "About the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team". Great Ormond Street Hospital. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Services". Great Ormond Street Hospital. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Prayers". Great Ormond Street Hospital. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  10. ^ "The history of Peter Pan and GOSH". Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  11. ^ Baldwin, Nick (19 December 2015). "Charles Dickens: A most unusual celebrity endorsement for GOSH". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Simpson-Smith, Alexander (1900 - 1942)". Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online. The Royal College of Surgeons of England. Retrieved 16 June 2017.

External linksEdit