A church dedicated to St. Mary
existed by 1231, when Walter, rector of Acton,
held a house from Peter FitzAlulf. (fn. 82) The church
served the whole parish until 1872. (fn. 83) The
benefice was a rectory in the gift of the bishop of
London. (fn. 84)
The church was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 85)
and again in 1428. (fn. 86) In 1536 and 1549 it was
valued at £14, (fn. 87) but c. 1570 the rectory and tithes
were farmed to John Garraway for £50 a year. (fn. 88)
The living consisted in 1650 of the parsonage
house with outbuildings and 1 a. of pasture,
valued at £10 a year, and the tithes valued at £190
a year; (fn. 89) the total was reduced to £160 for taxes in
1646 and 1653. (fn. 90) In the 18th century the total
value was £300 to £350. (fn. 91) The tithes were valued
at £759 in 1806, (fn. 92) £1,018 c. 1830, and £1,037 in
1851, (fn. 93) the sum at which the tithe rent charge was
fixed. In 1889 the incumbent also received c.
£165 a year in fees. (fn. 94)
The parsonage house, near the Steyne and
Horn Lane, was rebuilt c. 1725 by William Hall,
rector 1719-26, who died before moving in. (fn. 95) In
1889 it had 4 reception rooms and 14 bedrooms,
with outbuildings and c. 1 a. (fn. 96) A new Rectory, on
almost the same site, was built in 1925 (fn. 97) and the
old one was demolished.
No chantries were recorded in 1548, (fn. 98)
although in Elizabeth I's reign a small piece of
land, valued at 1d., was said to be for the
maintenance of obits and lamps. (fn. 99) A fraternity of
St. Mary had existed in 1464, 1477, and 1479. (fn. 1)
Mrs Sarah Crayle left 40s. a year in 1730 for an
annual sermon, as did Mrs. Ann Crayle in 1759
and John Cordy in 1799. (fn. 2)
Richard de Pertenhale, rector 1361-? 1381,
was certified as a pluralist in 1366, when he was
appointed to a minor canonry in London. (fn. 3) John
Holborn, rector 1405-26, held benefices in
London, (fn. 4) Dr. Daniel Featley, rector 1628-43,
also held Lambeth, (fn. 5) and Dr. Bruno Ryves, rector
1661-77, was dean of Windsor and Wolverhampton. A former chaplain to Charles I, Ryves was
the author of Mercurius Rusticus and instrumental in prosecuting Richard Baxter. (fn. 6) Anthony
Saunders, rector 1677-1719, was chancellor of
St. Paul's from 1672; (fn. 7) Dr. Edward Cobden,
rector 1726-64, held the prebend of Caddington
Minor from 1726, a London benefice from 1730,
and the archdeaconry of London from 1742; (fn. 8)
William Antrobus, rector 1797-1852, also held a
London benefice from 1794. (fn. 9)
A chaplain served the cure in 1377, (fn. 10) 1456, and
1458. (fn. 11) In 1549 Hugh Turnbull, rector 1542-63,
was paying a priest out of his income to serve the
cure, (fn. 12) as he still did in 1554. (fn. 13) Roger Cox served
as assistant curate for most of Featley's incumbency, (fn. 14) Ryves had an assistant curate in
1664 and 1673, (fn. 15) and Cobden had as many as
three curates, one a schoolmaster. (fn. 16) The assistant
curate received £10 a year in 1768, £90 a year c.
1800, and £150 c. 1835. (fn. 17) There was at least one
from the 18th century.
In 1637 a new communion table had been
railed in and the church repaired, but the young
were not properly catechized or instructed, because of failure to send children and servants to
church. (fn. 18) Daniel Featley was known to be an
exact observer of ceremonial, which caused a
company of Metropolis Volunteers, lodging in
Acton, to break into the church in August 1642,
damaging the fittings. (fn. 19) Another report placed
the incident later in that year, after the battle of
Brentford, when soldiers also pulled down the
font, smashed the windows, and set fire to the
rector's outbuildings. (fn. 20) Featley's livings were
sequestrated in 1643 and he complained that all
his personal goods, rents, and a copyhold house
were also seized. (fn. 21) He was succeeded by Philip
Nye, minister 1643-54, described as an able
preacher in 1650, assisted by John Nye, (fn. 22) and
then by Thomas Elford, who was ejected in
1661. (fn. 23)
In 1685 Acton, with other parishes, was to
keep the registers with more care and record the
names of stranger preachers. (fn. 24) During the 18th
century services were held twice every Sunday
with two sermons, communion was taken once a
month by between 20 and 40, and children were
catechized in Lent. In 1766 evening prayers were
held every Saturday and morning prayers on
Wednesdays and Saturdays. (fn. 25) A piece of waste
was added to the churchyard, which was nearly
full, in 1792. (fn. 26) By 1810 the number of communicants had risen to 50 and St. Mary's could
seat only 400 out of a population of 1,400. (fn. 27) In
1851, when attendance in the morning averaged
550, with 90 Sunday school children, there were
700 free sittings and 50 others, (fn. 28) but in 1865 the
church was said to seat only 500 adults. (fn. 29) Attendance in 1903 was 729 in the morning and 476 in
the evening. (fn. 30) The church ran St. Mary's mission
house at no. 12 Priory Terrace, High Street,
from the early 1880s, and a room and working
men's club in the Steyne, possibly in the mission
room and parish club house built at the back of
the old Rectory stables and leased to the parish in
1879. (fn. 31)
The church of ST. MARY was rebuilt at least
once on its existing site at the corner of High
Street and Market Place. The building in the
early 18th century was thought from its style to
be of the 12th or 13th centuries, of flint and a soft
stone. It was small with low walls and narrow
windows, (fn. 32) and had a chancel, nave, and two
aisles c. 1795, by which date the walls had been
rebuilt in brick. (fn. 33) An altar table of black marble
from Ashford-in-the-Water (Derb.), thought to
be of the 12th or 13th century and probably from
the medieval church, was repaired and placed in
the existing church c. 1960. (fn. 34) In 1504 Richard
Pontesbury, mercer of London, left stone
towards paving the chancel and money to make a
chapel on its north side, dedicated to the Virgin
Mary, St. Anne, and St. Margaret and similarly
paved. (fn. 35) There was a chapel of St. Catherine on
the south side of the church by 1534. (fn. 36) The
chancel was much decayed by the late 17th
century and was repaired and whitewashed. The
west tower was described as lofty and handsome
in 1705 and was thought to be early 16th-century.
It was square, of brick with stone dressings, and
had a peal of six bells; (fn. 37) in 1766 it was cased with
brick (fn. 38) and later had an octagonal turret at one
corner. (fn. 39) The cupola needed repair in 1800 and
again in 1821, when the surveyor recommended
that it be replaced by a roof of lead or copper. (fn. 40)
The churchwardens in 1768 were to replace
the vestry room with an octagonal one against the
south side of the tower. (fn. 41) In 1780 repairs included making a coved ceiling over the body of
the church, painting the gallery columns and
wainscot, and building a new vestry room. (fn. 42) A
north gallery was suggested in 1794, and changes
to the gallery and pews were planned in 1802 (fn. 43)
but perhaps not carried out. After plans for more
seating in 1825 and 1830, (fn. 44) it was decided in 1836
partially to rebuild the church, whereupon
services were held for a time in a schoolroom. (fn. 45)
Part of the cost was met from the sale of Masons
green and other waste and from compensation
from the G.W.R. (fn. 46) The result was described by
the bishop of London as the ugliest church in his
diocese. (fn. 47)
The whole church, except the tower, was
demolished in 1865, because it could seat only
500 and was considered unworthy in style. (fn. 48) Its
successor, consisting of a chancel, nave with
aisles, and south-east chapel, was built of red
brick with stone dressings to the design of H.
Francis in a Decorated style. (fn. 49) The tower in turn
was rebuilt in 1876 and the vestry was extended
over part of the churchyard in 1906, giving an
additional, south-east, exit. (fn. 50) Planned to seat
1,050, (fn. 51) the church seated 950 in 1906 and 750 by
1979. (fn. 52)
A font from the previous church, possibly the
medieval one described by Lysons, (fn. 53) was later
used in St. Andrew's mission church, (fn. 54) but many
other fittings were incorporated in the new
building. They include a brass of Humphrey
Cavell (d. 1558), (fn. 55) and several monuments and
mural tablets, the earliest being to Anne, wife
of Sir Thomas Southwell, 1636, Catherine,
Viscountess Conway, 1639, Mary, wife of Maj.Gen. Philip Skippon, 1655, John Perryn, 1656,
and Philippa, wife of Francis Rous, 1657. (fn. 56)
The plate in 1552 consisted of a pyx, two
crosses, two paxes, and two chalices of silver with
patens. (fn. 57) In 1639 Alice, Lady Dudley, created
Duchess Dudley in 1644, gave a set containing a
flagon, possibly the largest in the diocese, a
chalice, a paten on a foot, and a ciborium with
cover by T. Bird, all silver-gilt with elaborate
repousse ornament. (fn. 58) A silver bowl had been
added by 1685, (fn. 59) and an offertory plate by 1810. (fn. 60)
In 1889 the plate consisted of Lady Dudley's gift,
with another chalice and paten, and a spoon and
cruet, all silver-gilt. (fn. 61)
A pair of organs lacked some pipes in 1552. (fn. 62)
An organist was appointed in 1826 and a new
organ placed in the west gallery, where the old
one had stood, in 1859. (fn. 63) The tower held four
bells and a sanctus bell in 1552. (fn. 64) The peal of
bells was increased to eight after recasting in
1877 (fn. 65) and in 1937 included (vi) by James Bagley,
1712, and (vii) by Ellis Knight, 1637. (fn. 66) The
registers begin in 1538. (fn. 67)
The rapid increase in population after 1860
brought not only the rebuilding of St. Mary's but
the creation of separate parishes for South Acton
in 1873, East Acton in 1880, and Acton Green in
1888, followed by districts for West Acton in
1907, Acton Vale in 1915, and North Acton
in 1930. All Saints', South Acton, and St.
Dunstan's, East Acton, were founded from the
old parish church; thereafter most mission
churches were run from All Saints'. (fn. 68)
ALL SAINTS, Bollo Bridge Rd., S. Acton.
Dist. formed 1873. (fn. 69) Patron bp. of London. (fn. 70)
Two asst. curates 1881, three by 1892, two in
1926, one in 1947, none by 1955. Attendance
1903: 479 a.m.; 393 p.m. Red brick bldg. with
stone dressings in early Decorated style 1872 by
J. Kelly: apsidal chancel, aisled nave, SW. tower;
SE. chapel 1895 by E. Monson. Severe war
damage to spire, since removed. Andrew Hunter
Dunn, V. 1871-92, became bp. of Quebec 1892.
James Macarthur, 1892-7, became bp. of
Bombay, then of Southampton. Parish covered
densely populated and poor area, where church
ran several missions and other facilities, inc.
Dolphin coffee tavern, Osborne Rd., a nursery
and an institute and kitchen for the sick,
Strafford Rd. (fn. 71) Missions: (fn. 72) mission ho., Osborne
Rd., and Acton Green sch. 1877; (fn. 73) Stanley Rd.
iron mission church by 1886 until 1902; (fn. 74)
Fletcher Rd. by 1903, closed by 1926; (fn. 75) All
Saints' parish hall, attendance 1903: 314 a.m.;
86 p.m.; Good Shepherd mission, Stirling Rd.,
by 1903 until 1934, (fn. 76) attendance 1903: 25 p.m.
ST. AIDAN'S mission church, Acton Lane.
Bldg. just S. of N.L.R. line by 1894, served from
All Saints' (q.v.) 1903. (fn. 77) Attendance 1903: 57
p.m. Closed by 1908. (fn. 78)
ST. ALBAN THE MARTYR, South Parade,
Acton Green. Dist. formed 1888. (fn. 79) Patron bp. of
London. (fn. 80) Two asst. curates 1892, one in 1905,
none in 1926. Attendance 1903: 477 a.m.; 321 p.m.
Originated in mission run by All Saints' (q.v.)
in 1882 at temp. mission church and Sunday
sch. in two bldgs. in Acton Lane near Beaumont
Rd.; later held at parish hall, a sch. bldg. on
Acton Green common. (fn. 81) Red brick bldg. with
stone dressings in neo-Gothic style 1887 by E.
Monson, seating c. 750: (fn. 82) unusual roof steeply
pitched in nave, low and circular in chancel,
ending in modified apse. Chapel added 1908.
Mission services continued in temp. church, sold
c. 1938, (fn. 83) attendance 1903: 73 p.m.
ST. ANDREW'S mission church, Salisbury
Street. Begun in shop premises. Church by 1894,
contained font from old parish church, with
which mission was connected. (fn. 84) Attendance
1903: 209 a.m.; 111 p.m. Curate-in-charge
1915. (fn. 85) Closed after Second World War, when
ST. BARNABAS'S (temp.) church, Stanley
Terrace, Acton Vale. Mission held by St.
Dunstan's (q.v.) at no. 20 the Parade, Acton Vale,
by 1884, called St. Barnabas's mission church by
1890. (fn. 86) Iron church in Stanley Terrace by 1894 (fn. 87)
and mission room closed by 1898. (fn. 88) Attendance
1903: 130 a.m.; 118 p.m. Replaced by St.
Thomas's (q.v.) 1915, and bldg. and site sold
1919. (fn. 89)
ST. CUTHBERT'S mission church, Osborne
Rd. Founded from All Saints' (q.v.) by 1880,
called St. Cuthbert's by c. 1900, but still served
from All Saints' in 1926. (fn. 90) Attendance 1903: 83
a.m.; 59 p.m. Closed c. 1934. (fn. 91)
ST. DUNSTAN, Friars Place Lane, E.
Acton. Dist. formed 1880. (fn. 92) Mission services by
curate from St. Mary's held in barn of Cotchings
farm, E. Acton, and later in E. Acton infants'
sch. (fn. 93) Goldsmiths' Co. of London gave land and
bldg. and endowed living out of Perryn trust. (fn. 94)
Patron Goldsmiths' Co. (fn. 95) Two asst. curates
1892, one in 1896, none in 1955. Attendance
1903: 201 a.m.; 136 p.m. Red brick bldg. with
stone dressings in Early English style 1879 by R.
Hesketh, seating c. 750: chancel, nave of five
bays, N. and S. choir aisles, SE. chapel, SW.
tower and spire. Mission at Acton Vale became
St. Barnabas's mission church (q.v.).
ST. GABRIEL, Noel Rd., N. Acton. London
Diocesan Home Missioner appointed for N.
Acton in 1923, and services held in marquee (fn. 96)
and in private ho. in Horn Lane. (fn. 97) Iron hut built
in Noel Rd., afterwards used as parish hall until
1960s. Parish formed 1930. (fn. 98) Patron bp. of
London. (fn. 99) Two asst. curates 1935, none in 1947.
Brown brick bldg. with stone dressings in
Decorated style 1931 by E. C. Shearman, seating
c. 200: red brick interior with Gothic arches,
chancel unfinished, sanctuary in nave, NE.
chapel; terracotta plaques given by George V
and Queen Mary from Queen Alexandra's
private chapel at Sandringham, said to be from
old Danish church. Church was first of Bp.
Winnington-Ingram's 'forty' commissioned for
growing outskirts of London. (fn. 1)
ST. LUKE'S mission church, Old Oak Lane,
Willesden Junction. Founded between 1894 and
1898. (fn. 2) Attendance 1903: 105 a.m.; 78 p.m.
Formed part of parish of All Souls, Harlesden. (fn. 3)
ST. MARTIN, Hale Gardens, W. Acton.
Parish formed 1907 from St. Mary's, with some
parts of Christ Church and St. Mary's, Ealing. (fn. 4)
Patron bp. of London. (fn. 5) One asst. curate 1915,
none in 1965. Iron bldg. dedicated 1903, (fn. 6) later
used as parish hall. Red brick bldg. with stone
dressings 1906 by E. Monson, seating 750: (fn. 7)
nave, N. and S. aisles, N. and S. transepts, SW.
chapel; not oriented. New hall built c. 1960
replaced temp. chancel and used for worship in
ST. PETER, Southfield Rd., Acton Green.
Patron bp. of London. (fn. 8) Curate-in-charge and
two assts. 1915, one asst. curate 1935 and 1973.
Services held in tent on recreation ground 1906,
and in a council sch. (fn. 9) Temp. church 1907, seating
300, (fn. 10) later used as parish hall. Buff brick bldg.
with red brick facings and stone dressing to W.
door, in basilican style, based on St. Paul's
Outside the Walls, Rome, 1915 by William A.
Pite, seating 750: (fn. 11) nave with apse, N. chapel.
Chancel screen from Quebec Chapel, Marble
Arch. Organ 1858 from St. Alphage, London
ST. SAVIOUR'S church for the Deaf, Old
Oak Rd. Non-parochial. Built by Royal Assoc. in
Aid of Deaf and Dumb 1924, on site given by
Goldsmiths' Co. of London, with funds from sale
of St. Saviour's church for the deaf in Oxford
Street, from which statues and foundation stone
were taken. Dark brown brick bldg. with stone
dressings by Sir Edward Maufe, seating up to
110: on two levels, the upper being the church,
the lower a recreation centre; church floor raked
to make priest clearly visible; (fn. 12) nave, chancel,
gallery, and side chapel.
ST. THOMAS, Bromyard Ave., Acton Vale.
Parish formed 1915. Patron bp. of London. (fn. 13)
Replaced St. Barnabas's (q.v.). Site, in proposed
garden city, given by Goldsmiths' Co. of
London. Bldg. funds from sale of site of St.
Thomas Charterhouse, Goswell Rd. Brown
brick bldg. with red brick dressings in early
Decorated style on cruciform plan 1915 by Sir A.
Blomfield: apsidal chancel, vestries, and two bays
of nave 1915; extended at W. end in Perpendicular style 1927. Parish centre added to N. side
1973: nave with unfinished aisles, NE. and SE.
chapels. Two windows, early Victorian altar
plate, and wardens' staves from St. Thomas
Charterhouse. (fn. 14)