Although the church of St James in Clerkenwell, London, has an old and colourful history, in 1788 an Act of Parliament was passed to replace the unsatisfactory aggregation of buildings with a new modern church designed by James Carr in the style of Sir Christopher Wren and James Gibbs. Dedicated in 1792 with upper galleries added in 1822, it has a historic organ built in 1792 by George Pike England.
This week, the designer Tom Dixon has taken over the church in a innovative partnership which will bring many new people into the church and enable them to see the creativity of Tom Dixon set against the historic character of the church building. In addition, there is a charitable element, with soup available linked to a project to fund a soup kitchen later in the year.
The joint aim of the vicar of St James, Andrew Baughen, and Tom Dixon is to give the church building a meaningful daytime use and be a place to celebrate and support artistic creativity in addition to its core religious mission.
What is fantastic is that this is not just a temporary project, but a real partnership – the central chandelier will remain in the nave and the kitchen will be donated as a permanent facility. This is an example of how two organisations can work together for mutual benefit, while also raising the awareness of St James to a huge number of local, national and international visitors that will visit this week and would not otherwise be aware of this building and it long history.