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Chapel of Thomas Guy

The beautiful 18th-century Chapel of Thomas Guy is opposite Boland House. As members of King's College London, it is your Chapel, and is available for all.

It is a lovely, peaceful space for prayer, rest, and reflection. Candles and pens and paper to write your own prayers and suggestions for prayer, as well as copies of the Bible, are provided for your own devotion and use.

Two years ago a beautiful Icon of Jesus and Mary was commissioned, which forms the focus of devotional space to the left of the Chapel (on the organ side). Here, you may light your own candle and write your own prayers.

As the historic Chapel of Guy's Hospital, it houses the tomb of Thomas Guy (which can be seen by arrangement with the Chaplain). It is also the resting place of Astley Paston Cooper, the 19th-century surgeon and scientist, and other characters connected with the rich history of Guy's.

Who was Thomas Guy?

Thomas Guy (1644-1724) was an eccentric and controversial philanthropist who made his wealth by printing Bibles illegally.  

However, most of all, Thomas Guy is remembered for an act of extraordinary generosity.  Guy was a governor of St Thomas' Hospital, then located on the London Bridge side of St Thomas' Street. He hated to see poor people not in full health, and those with mental health problems, discharged from hospital before they were healed due to a lack of funds (see the magnificent sculpture in the Chapel, showing Guy rescuing a vulnerable person from the gutter). So, with his huge wealth, he decided, in 1721, to found a new hospital from which no one would ever be turned away for financial reasons. He died soon after dedicating his money to this cause.

You can still see the the original hospital - the Colonnade was built first, with the two little courtyards on either side of it. The front courtyard followed, with the statue of Thomas Guy in the centre. This part of the complex was completed in 1780. It is a little gem of Georgian architecture, which the College is currently seeking to restore to its original glory.

Why does it matter?

We are here at Guy's because of the magnificent history of caring and medical endeavour that has taken place in this corner of London since the monks at what is now Southwark Cathedral began to care for the sick in the twelfth century.  Their hospice later became St Thomas' Hospital, with Guy's Hospital itself developing in the 18th-century from Thomas Guy's generous work.

If you are at King's College London student studying at the Guy's campus you thus stand in strong and noble tradition - one of which we may all be proud. Try to live the Guy's motto "Dare Quam Accipere" (It is better to Give than to Receive) alongside that of King's "Sancte et Sapienter" (Holiness and Wisdom). There is no finer life.

Guys Stretcher           


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