St James’s Church Piccadilly & the American Revolution

battle-of-lexington

As every American school child knows, Paul Revere rode through the night to alert the Lexington Patriots about the approach of British troops in 1775. The Battles of Lexington and Concord ensued and with them the American Revolution.

Longfellow wrote in Paul Revere’s Ride:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea…

Old North Church in Boston, home to the signal which started the American Revolution, is modelled closely on St James’s Church Piccadilly. According to Marcus Whiffen (American Architecture: 1607-1860, Volume 1, p64):

…in all essentials the interior of Old North is an imitation of St James’s. The tower also follows St James’s very closely, with stringcourses dividing it into the same four stories and the same combination of arched and round windows…

On the night of April 18th 1775, church sexton Robert Newman climbed to the topmost window of the steeple of Old North Church and signalled with lanterns that the British were marching on Lexington. When he came down, the Redcoats were already at the church door, but he escaped through a window to the right of the alter.

But the signal was sent, Paul Revere rode through the night, the American Revolution commenced, a nation was born.

Old North Church Boston

Old North Church Boston

St James's Church Piccadilly

St James’s Church Piccadilly

Old North Church Boston - Interior

Old North Church Boston – Interior

St James's Church Piccadilly - Interior

St James’s Church Piccadilly – Interior

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

lantern

 

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