CHAPTER 23 - THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY, LAMBETH
[See plates 84, 87, 88, 91, and 93.]
The Church of St. Mary, Lambeth, because of its proximity to the
London residence of the Primate, has a unique interest among the parish
churches of the London area. It was for many centuries almost an adjunct
of the palace, and many of its rectors have been chaplains or household officers
of the Archbishop and often men of considerable eminence. Its bells rang
out whenever royal personages came, as they frequently did up to the Stuart
period, to visit the Archbishop. At its door was the landing stage of the
Horseferry to Westminster, and many others beside Mary of Modena and
her baby must have taken shelter under its walls on their way to or from
Westminster and Whitehall.
From the entry in Domesday Book we know that there was a church
dedicated to St. Mary in Lambeth before the Norman Conquest and that it
belonged to the Countess Goda, sister to King Edward the Confessor. (ref. 9) The
church was granted or confirmed to the see or priory of Rochester by the
early Norman Kings and included with the manor in the exchange made
between the Prior, Convent and Bishop of Rochester and the Archbishop of
Canterbury in 1197. (ref. 212) Since that
time it has been within the gift of
the Archbishop, but close contact has
always been maintained with the see
of Rochester, to whom an annual
payment of five marks was due out
of the profits of the rectorate under
St. Mary's Church. Pedlar's window
Of the mediaeval church, only
the tower now survives. The body of
the church was rebuilt in flint and
stone between the years 1374 and
1377 (ref. 213) and the tower soon after. (ref. 214)
The older tower, built in 1243, was of
wood. (ref. 16) Lysons, writing in 1791, says
that only the tower remained of the
14th century church, “the other parts
of the present structure appear to be
about the age of Henry VII, and most
probably were built at several times, in
the latter end of the 15th and the
beginning of the 16th centuries. In
the list of benefactions to the church, we find some who contributed to the
building of the north aisle in 1504, others to that of the south aisle in 1505. (fn. a)
Archbishop Warham was a principal contributor to the building of the west
end in 1522. The east end was probably rebuilt before the list of benefactors
commenced. Howard's and Leigh's chapels were built in 1522.” (ref. 216) Lysons'
remarks, combined with the many entries in the accounts of subsequent
alterations, indicate that little of the 14th century church can have survived
in 1851, when the whole building, except the tower, was pulled down and
the present church erected from the design of Philip Charles Hardwick.
The High Altar of the pre-reformation church was dedicated to St.
Mary the Virgin, and there were also altars dedicated to the Trinity and to
St. John the Baptist and to St. Thomas. (fn. b) There are references in the 15th
century to a parish fraternity of St. Christopher (alternatively called the
fraternity of Our Lady, St. Christopher and St. George), (fn. c) and in 1519
sixteen pence were paid for two boards for the gable end of St. Christopher's
aisle. (ref. 100)
Entries in the churchwardens' accounts reflect the doctrinal changes
of the Tudor period. In the second and third year of Philip and Mary's
reign £6 13s. was paid for a rood with figures of Mary and St. John, probably
to replace one destroyed in the previous reign, and 4d. “for a skyn of parchment
to write mens names uppon ther pewes.” In 1570 the rood loft was
taken down and “certen Copes and vessmentes” were sold, “diverse of the
worshipfull of the parishe” having a dinner at the King's Head at the parish
expense to celebrate the occasion. In 1582 fourteen pence was paid for
cutting down the partition between the church and the chancel and making
new seats. In 1599 the pulpit was repaired and a board put over it, but in
1616 Archbishop Abbot presented a new pulpit to the parish, while John
Hart, his solicitor, gave a new font and cover with an inclosure of joiner's
work, and Roger Jesson of South Lambeth paid for the erection of a gallery. (ref. 100)
Daniel Featley, rector from 1618 to 1643, was an enthusiastic controversialist
against both the Protestant sectarians and the Roman Catholics.
In 1643 he was arraigned before the committee for plundered ministers, one
of the accusations against him being “that the communion table did stand
in the middle of the chancell; but is now removed, and is set at the east end
of the chancell, and threeways compassed about with railes, the said table
standing divers steps high.” Featley replied that he had never given any
orders for removing the communion table but that it stood as it did when he
first came to the parish, “only once, Mr. Woodward, when he was churchwarden,
about 20 yeares ago, brought it downe to the middle of the chancell,
and compassed it about with a most decent and usefull frame, at his owne
charge; but the parishioners (finding the standing of it there to be very
inconvenient, partly because it stopt up the passage from Lee's isle to
Howard's chappell, partly because it debarred 30 or 40 at least from hearing
the preacher) with publike consent removed it to the place where it first
stood time out of mind; and is the fittest place for it to stand in, that the
communicants may best both heare and see the minister…”
“For the steps … the chancell had for above 60 yeares such an
ascent … and that, by reason of store of corpses lately interred there, it
could not be levelled without great wrong to the dead, and danger to the
living, from the stench.
“But for any new Popish ceremonies, I have mainly opposed them,
and could never be brought to … turne the communion table altar-wise.” (ref. 15)
The entries in the accounts confirm Featley's defence in the main,
nevertheless he seems to have aroused considerable animosity among the
puritans. In November his church at Acton was raided and damaged by
rebel troops and his barns and stables fired. In February, 1643, five soldiers
entered Lambeth Church during service with intent to kill him, but he had
been warned in time and kept out of the way. He was deprived of the living
in March, 1643. (fn. d) The national swing towards puritanism is reflected in the
churchwardens' accounts, which record the “taking downe the Screenes (fn. e)
betweene the Church and ye Chancell” (ref. 100) and the removal of the Cross from
the steeple and its sale as old iron.
Few records of the church during the Commonwealth period have
survived, (fn. f) but a long series of entries in the burial register give melancholy
proof of the number of royalist prisoners who died during their incarceration
in Lambeth Palace. (ref. 189)
In February, 1660, the vestry, always eager to keep abreast of
political events, ordered the King's Arms to be set up in the church. (ref. 82)
In 1668 the churchwardens were instructed to lay a new beam in the
middle aisle but no extensive works were carried out until 1681 when,
subscriptions having been raised from the parishioners, the rector, Elias
Ashmole, and Boydel Cuper, were appointed to treat with workmen for a
general repair. (ref. 82)
In 1698 Ralph Snowe, treasurer to the Archbishop, presented a
new pulpit, reading desk and clerk's pew to be placed “against the pillar
joining to the chancel on the South side,” the seats there being moved to
make room for it. (ref. 82) Snowe also presented a large chandelier, which remained
suspended from the centre of the nave until the rebuilding in 1851. (ref. 220)
A gallery was erected at the west end of the church in 1699 by subscription
and the south gallery was built in 1708, Ralph Snowe contributing
£100 towards the cost. In 1701 Renatus Harris was paid £50 for an organ. (ref. 82)
Part of the old oak casing of this instrument still remains, though the organ
itself has been repaired and renewed on several occasions. (fn. g)
There is a full description of the church in John Aubrey's Natural
history of Surrey, published in 1719:—
“The Walls … are of Brick and Stone mixed, the Floor paved
with Free-stone, and the Chancel raised two Steps; the Bases of the Pillars
are Octagonal, the Arches, and most of the Windows modern Gothick, and
the Roof covered with Lead. In this Church are three Iles, or Chapels; that
at the East End of the North Ile, is called HOWARD'S Chapel, from the
Interment of some of the Norfolk Family, and one at the East End of the
South Ile, called LEIGH'S Chapel, where lye buried Sir John Leigh, Son of
Ralph Leigh, Esq.; Lord of the Manour of Stockwell, and his Wife. The
Inside of this Church is light and pleasant: … The Roof over the Nave
of the Church is ceiled with Plaister, but the Side-Iles with Timber; the
Walls generally wainscoated about Seven Foot high, and above the Altar
higher: The Pews are new fronted with oak in the North and South Iles,
the Galleries have also Oak Bolection Fronts; and over the Entrance into
the Chancel is the Decalogue, between the Lord's Prayer and Creed.…
The Altar-Piece is of a light Cedar Colour, adorned with Pilasters with gilded
Capitals, Entablature, and Compass Pediment of the Corinthian Order,
under which is a Glory… the whole enclosed with Rails and Ballisters.” (ref. 196)
Dr. Ducarel tells us that “In 1769, it was discovered that the column
next westward from the pulpit had been deprived of its foundation by digging
graves too near, and that, instead of supporting the church walls, it was
suspended, having no solid bearing. The removal of the old foundation, and
establishing a new one without damage being done either to the church or
the workmen, was greatly owing to the care and assiduity of the late Mr.
Thomas Singleton.” (ref. 8)
In 1778 “a handsome Gothic portal” was put up at the west end of
the church “for the convenience of those parishioners who kept carriages.”
The organ was also improved at this time and a new gallery was built for
the charity children. (ref. 85) Some repairs were carried out to the body of the
church in 1844. (ref. 100)
The restoration or rebuilding of the church took just over a year
and the church was reopened by Dr. Sumner, Bishop of Winchester, in
February, 1852. (ref. 221) During the long rectorate of Dr. Lingham (1854–83),
a number of additions and alterations were made to the interior of the church:
inter alia, the galleries, which had been restored by Hardwick, were taken
down and the present 17th century communion rails, which had probably
come originally from the church of All Saints, Maidstone, and had been for a
time in the chapel of the Archbishop's palace at Addington, were installed.
The next rector, Canon Pelham, put in the choir stalls. He also had the box
pews removed and the sides used for wainscotting the aisles. The reredos of
terracotta with panels by George Tinworth was presented by Messrs. Doulton
in 1889. (ref. 222) It was taken down after being damaged during the 1939–45 war.
Dr. Walpole turned the old Leigh Chapel into a Pelham memorial
chapel in 1905–06, but after the 1914–18 war it was used as a war memorial
chapel. The St. Nicholas Chapel was consecrated in 1923 as a gift to the
The present hexagonal wood pulpit, from St. James's Church,
Kennington Park Road, was set up in 1924, when St. James's was demolished.
The mediaeval font was painted and lined with lead. (ref. 6)
(fn. h) It was replaced in 1615 by a marble font supported on an octagonal pillar with a
cover and enclosure of wood, presented by John Hart, gentleman. In the
time of Nichols (1786), the canopy was “handsomely painted with the text
round the edge ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them
not; for of such is the Kingdom of God.’ ” (ref. 107) This font was removed to Holy
Trinity Church, Carlisle Lane, in 1851 (see p. 75); it was replaced by the
present elaborate font, carved by G. P. White, when the church was rebuilt.
This is wearing badly. Four panels are filled with the names and emblems
of the four evangelists, while in the other four the subjects depicted are,
The Deluge, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, Christ blessing the
children, and the Baptism of Christ.
The font for total immersion is below the level of the church and is
approached by two flights of marble steps. It was installed by John Andrewes
Reeve (rector, 1894–1903) in memory of Archbishop Benson.
The tower was built circa 1378 (see p. 104). A considerable repair
was carried out to the steeple and belfry in 1522 when the Leigh and Howard
chapels were built, and there are frequent references in the churchwardens'
accounts to the repair of the bells, ropes, etc. The tower was extensively
repaired in 1834–35.
In 1676 there were six bells. In 1723 they were recast by R. Phelps
and made into eight, a considerable weight of metal being added, and the
frames and appurtenances renewed. (ref. 8) The sixth bell and the tenor were again
recast in 1848 by C. and G. Mears. (ref. 220) In 1922 six of the bells were recast and
all eight were rehung.
Mrs. Featley, wife (fn. i) of the rector, Daniel Featley, by her will dated
20th April, 1630, bequeathed to the church “a faire communion-cup, to
be raised from the sale of her principal jewels.” (ref. 15) In fulfilment of her wishes
a silver paten and silver gilt chalice were bought. (fn. j) A year or so later, the
parishioners subscribed towards a second chalice of similar design (fn. k) and two
silver flagons, at a total cost of £32 5s. 3d. These, with the exception of the
flagons, are still in use. The flagons were sold in 1643, but three more were
bought by the parish in 1664, and still form part of the church plate.
|RECTORS OF ST. MARY, LAMBETH
|Date of Appointment
||Gilbert de Glanville, Bishop of Rochester.
||? John de Theobaldo.
|1282 (ref. 21)
||John de Exton.
||Andrew de Brugge.
||John de Aulton.
||William de Drax alias Draper.
||John de Colon.
||Thomas de Eltesle, Eltislee or Eltesley, Sen., Chaplain to Archbishop Stratford and first master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
||Thomas de Eltesle, Jun.
|1361 ? (ref. 22)
||William of Lambeth.
||Hugh de Buckenhall.
||Nicholas Slake, King's Clerk. In
1388 he was confined in Nottingham Castle for high treason.
||John Launce, afterwards prebendary of Chichester Cathedral.
||Thomas Clyff. (? inducted)
||Henry, Bishop of Joppa.
||Ambrose Payne, Chaplain to Cardinal Bourchier and Archbishop Morton.
||Robert Chalner or Chalener.
||John Whytwell, Chaplain and almoner to Archbishop Cranmer.
||John Byrch or Burchall.
||John Pory or Porie, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
||John Matchett, Chaplain to Archbishop Parker.
||John Bungey, Chaplain to Archbishop Parker and prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral.
||Thomas Blage or Blague, Chaplain to Archbishop Grindal and Dean of Rochester in 1591.
||Francis Taylor, previously Master of the free school at Guild-ford.
|Daniel Featley or Fairdough, controversialist (see p. 105). Deprived 1643, but buried in the chancel of the church in 1645.
||John White, known as the Patriarch of Dorchester and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Company.
||John Rawlinson, puritan. Removed under the Act of Uniformity in 1663.
||George Wyld, (instituted and inducted by presentation from the King, but did not receive the profits of the living).
||Robert Pory, Chaplain to Archbishop Juxon and Archdeacon of Middlesex.
||Thomas Tomkyns, Chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon and assistant licenser of books.
||George Hooper, Chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon, afterwards Bishop of Bath and Wells.
||Edmund Gibson, antiquary and controversialist; Chaplain and librarian to Archbishop Tenison; afterwards successively Bishop of Lincoln and London.
||Richard Ibbetson, Chaplain to Archbishops Tenison and Wake, Archdeacon of Exeter.
||John Denne, antiquary. He had previously been vicar of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, and Archdeacon of Rochester. He was the father of Samuel Denne, who published a history of Lambeth parish and Palace in 1795.
||Beilby Porteus, Chaplain to Archbishop Secker, afterwards successively Bishop of Chester and London.
||William Vyse, Chaplain to Archbishop Cornwallis, Archdeacon of Coventry.
||Christopher Wordsworth, Chaplain to Archbishop Manners Sutton, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and author of Ecclesiastical Biography.
||George D'Oyly, theologian and biographer, and Chaplain to Archbishop Manners Sutton. Founder of King's College, London.
||J. F. Lingham.
||Hon. F. G. Pelham, afterwards Earl of Chichester.
||J. Andrewes Reeve, Chaplain to
||G. H. S. Walpole, afterwards Bishop of Edinburgh.
||T. G. Gardiner.
||G. H. Aitken.
||F. O. T. Hawkes, afterwards Bishop of Kingston.
||A. L. Jones.
The ground plan, prepared by Hardwick for his rebuilding of the
body of the church in 18 51, is reproduced here. It follows closely the lines
of the old foundations and, although outwardly very little of the old masonry
is apparent, it is probable that some of the old stones have been incorporated,
and that part of the old core may still exist. Both the tower and the body of
the church are in coursed Kentish ragstone with limestone dressings. Being
in the Decorated style, Hardwick's rebuilding is sympathetic to the old work,
although the window tracery has a somewhat mechanical appearance.
The clerestoried nave and aisles and the vestries are all roofed independently in slate, and each roof terminates in a gable end. The roofs are
without eaves, all walls being topped by parapets.
The tower is of four stages. It is battlemented and has at its southeast angle a semi-octagonal stair-turret which rises above the parapets; on
the south-west and north-west corners the tower is strengthened by angle
buttresses. The tower stages are defined by horizontal string courses which
also embrace the stair-turret. The lowest stage, which stands on a moulded
plinth, has at its west elevation a five-light traceried window. This has a
middle transom beneath which, at the centre light, there is a canopied niche.
The dripstone moulding over the window terminates each side against
uncarved rectangular label stops. To the south and west faces of the second
stage there is a small plain trefoil-headed, single-light window with a squareheaded label moulding above (that to the east is similar, but is now blocked
by the roof of the south aisle). The openings on the west and east elevations
of the third stage have been filled and contain clock-faces, while that to the
south has a window of two lights each with cinquefoil heads and enclosing
a small quatrefoil. To the north elevation there is a small single-light
window with a square-headed label moulding. At the top or belfry stage
there are linked pairs of two-light louvred openings to each of the four faces.
The tracery is similar in detail to that at the third stage. Although the tower
is old its tracery has been renewed and the upper stage rebuilt.
St. Mary's Church. Plan, 1851. From the drawing by P. C. Hardwick
The clerestoried nave is arcaded with plain pointed arches carried on
simple octagonal piers. There are five bays on the north side and four on
the south, the southern arcade stopping short against the wall of the tower.
No pier is directly opposite the corresponding pier on the other side.
The roof of the nave is of open timber construction, and the thrusts
are borne through bracket wall-pieces on to stone corbels carved with demiangels holding shields. The coats of arms on the latter commemorate
contributors to the old fabric. The corbels are placed between the three-light
clerestory windows and mostly date from before the rebuilding.
The chancel arch is elevated and has small shafts each side while,
on the same line, the aisles are separated
from the organ chamber and south chapel
by single arches. The chancel has a boarded
barrel vault ceiling and is well lighted by a
traceried east window of five lights. Practically all the stained glass in the church, including that of the Pedlar and his Dog in
the south chapel, was destroyed by enemy
action during the 1939–45 war and has been
replaced by clear glass.
St. Mary's Church. Doorway to vestry. Measured drawing
The tower walls are rendered, but
all the other interior walls have been left bare
with pointed joints to the dressed random
The only internal structural features
left from the old church are the heavy door
frame and the studded door leading to the
south-east vestry and the tower arch opening
to the south aisle. This is two-centred with
two moulded orders, the inner of which rests on attached shafts. These have
moulded capitals and mutilated bases.
The old pews were re-used by Hardwick, though later, when the
church was re-seated, the pew ends and doors were moved to form a continuous dado round the walls.
When the galleries were taken down soon after the rebuilding, the
organ, which had stood in the west gallery, was removed to the east end and
placed in the chapel on the north side of the chancel. Though altered and
enlarged, it retains certain original features, including the enriched entwining
motif to the frieze and the carved cherubs' heads beneath the larger pipes at
The late 17th century communion rails have double gates at the
centre and their square posts have panels carved with flowers, leaves, and
ribboning to the front faces. Both upper and lower rails are moulded, the
upper rail also being enriched. The balusters are turned and delicately
carved with square blocking pieces at the rails. Parts of the communion
rails are also used as an enclosure to the baptistry under the tower. (Plate 92.)
Monuments, Tablets, etc., in the Church
The finest of the monuments still remaining are the two Gothic
altar-tombs on the north and south sides of the chancel. That on the north
is in memory of Hugh Peyntwyn. The lower part of the tomb sets forward
slightly from the wall. Immediately under the slab there are three somewhat
damaged sub-cusped quatrefoiled square panels, each of which has a shield
with the Peyntwyn arms:—Gules; three thistles or, leaved and slipped vert.
Below these panels there are three other square panels each having a quatrefoil
with a blank shield in the centre. The lower range of panels and the slab are
in Purbeck marble. Above the slab the monument is recessed. The recess
has an architrave surround and is flanked at each side by semi-octagonal
shafts. These stand on bases and support a foliated cornice with cresting of
Tudor flowers. The cornice breaks forward for three shields bearing
Peyntwyn arms. Above the four-centred arch enclosing the recess are
traceried spandrels. The splayed reveals and the back of the recess are
treated similarly, the back being divided into three panels in the centre of
which are indents of two figures with scrolls between them. (Plate 90.)
Hugh Peyntwyn, who died in 1504, describes himself in his will (ref. 223) as “Doctor of Laws
and Archdeacon of Canterbury.” He asked for his body to be buried in the chancel of St. Mary,
Lambeth next to the right-hand corner of the altar. He bequeathed 5 marks for the altar and 5 for
the fabric of the church and made other charitable bequests.
The altar-tomb on the south side of the chancel, though recessed and
of similar character, is slightly less rich in detail. Beneath the slab the panels,
with shields in their quatrefoils, are less elaborate. The slab is in Purbeck
marble, and above it to the centre panel of the recess is an indent of a kneeling
man with two scrolls above his head. (Plate 89.)
The inscription has been effaced but a notice states that it is the tomb of John Mompesson
who died in 1524. This information is derived from Ducarel's History of Lambeth
(ref. 8) where a Latin
inscription purporting to be from this tomb is given in full. It says that John Mompesson Esquire,
of Bathampton, Wilts., was of the household of Archbishop Warham, and married Isabel,
daughter of Thomas Drewe. Nichols, however, in his annotations of Ducarel, says: “The tomb
supposed to be Dr. Mompesson's is robbed of its inscription; yet on six several shields is carved a
lion rampant impaled with Ermine, a lion passant guardant” (the Mompesson arms impaled with
those of Drewe). Aubrey's Natural history of Surrey, 1719, (ref. 196) makes no mention of Mompesson,
but Vincent in the mid-seventeenth century (ref. 224) has a note of “a Monument erected in ye wall for
Dr Mompesson Mr of ye Prerogative of ye Archbishop of Canterbury.” Scratched on the matrix
from which the old brass tablet has been removed are the following lines:
“Heare ys the tome of docter
Mompesson somtyme master
of the prog. … off the
byshope of [Cante]rbury”
Reference to their wills shows that John Mompesson, the elder, whose wife's name was
Anne, died in 1502, and desired to be buried in his “new chapel at Bathampton.” His heir was
John Mompesson, “son to my son Drew.” His son, “Henry Mompesson doctor” was one of his
executors. (ref. 225) John Mompesson junior married Alice, daughter of Sir John Leigh, and died in 1516.
He asked to be buried in the parish church of Steeple Langford. (ref. 226) From its general appearance and
design the Lambeth tomb must date from about the beginning of the 16th century, and the only
likely member of the Mompesson family to have been buried there seems to be Henry, who died in
1509, and who had been employed in Warham's household. (ref. 227)
Also in the chancel is a tablet to John Mason, King's Barge Master,
who died in 1768, aged 67, as well as inscriptions, not of contemporary date,
in memory of Cuthbert Tunstall (1474–1559), Bishop of London, and
Richard Bancroft (1544–1610), Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop John Moore (1730–1805) was buried in the church,
but apparently no tablet or floor slab remains.
On the north wall of the organ chamber is a simple rectangular tablet
to Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1783.
Above it has arms and an Archbishop's mitre enclosed by scrolls, and below
a plain shield with drapery in folds. Its brief inscription is in Latin.
Other tablets on the north wall include one of sarcophagus type to
James Morris, who died in 1781. It is of marble and has weeping female
figures below the sarcophagus at each side. The sculptor was Flaxman.
The white marble tablet to Matthew Hutton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1758, has consoles at each side of the inscription (in Latin)
and an urn above. There is a shield on the pedestal of the urn bearing arms
surmounted by an Archbishop's mitre.
Below Archbishop Hutton's tablet is a brass inscribed to Margret
Chute, who died in childhood in 1638.
High above Archbishop Hutton's tablet is a plain marble tablet to
“Raphe Snowe,” who was registrar to four Archbishops, and who died in
1707, aged 94. Directly beneath, on the same wall, is a simple tablet to
Peter Dollond, optician, who died in 1820, aged 89.
On the east wall of the organ chamber is a brass, not in its original
position, in memory of Lady Katherine Howard, who died in 1535. She is
depicted wearing pedimental head-dress and a long mantle which bears the
arms of Howard with the Flodden augmentation. At her feet is a squirrel
holding a nut.
On the north wall, also moved from its original position, is a brass to
Thomas Clere, who died in 1545. He is dressed in plate-armour and has
above his head the quartered arms of Clere and Uvedale.
In the chancel, floor slabs mark the resting places of Archbishops
Tenison, Hutton, and Cornwallis, while under the east arch of the tower
there is a floor slab in memory of Archbishop Secker. In front of the south
chapel altar is a slab to Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum
who died in 1692. The slab was recut in 1853.
At the east end of the north aisle adjoining the altar there is a marble
pedestal surmounted by a bust in white marble to Thomas Lett, High Sheriff
for the County of Surrey, who died in 1830. The monument was carved by
On the east wall, obscured by the organ, is a large tablet to Thomas
Lett the elder, who died in 1820. Beneath this tablet is a floor slab to John
Middleton, who died in 1833, aged 82. The inscription, also partly obscured
by the organ, refers to his “several literary works.”
The semi-circular panel at the west end of the north aisle is in Coade
stone. It was taken from a decayed headstone in the churchyard in 1939.
The tablets to Mercy Weller (d. 1887) and John Hernaman (d. 1899)
on the south wall have panels carved by George Tinworth.
Tablets in South Porch
Of the tablets in the south porch, that to Sir Peter Rich, who died in
1692, is of most interest. The inscription is on a convex surface surrounded
by winged cherubs' heads, flowers and scrolls. At the foot of the tablet,
which is of marble, there is a skull.
Over the door into the church are the remains, a bust and an inscription, of the monument to Robert Scott, who died in 1631, and was descended
from the Barons of Bawerie in Scotland.
Formerly the bust was placed in a
circular surround, over which there
were arms in a broken segmental pediment.
Other tablets include that to
Mrs. Judith Ralegh, who died in 1701.
It is in white marble, draped at the
sides, with folds forming the inscription
surface; above the inscription is a
plain shield. She married Capt. George
Ralegh, Deputy Governor of Jersey,
and a nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh. (ref. 85)
Adjoining is a plain tablet to
“WILLIAM BACON, of the Salt
Office, London, Gent, who was killed
by thunder & lightning at his window
July 12th 1787, aged 34 years.”
Another plain tablet records
the death in action at Waterloo of
Lieutenant Henry Buckley of the 15th
Hussars. He was only 18.
Many monuments and tablets
were destroyed in 1851 and a number
have been resited since.
St. Mary's Church. Tablet to Sir Peter Rich
In the churchyard, which is enclosed by ragstone walls and railings,
there are five tombs of special interest.
The Tradescant and Bligh tombs are to the east of the church; that
to the Tradescant family is in natural stone and has carved panels depicting
ruins of buildings on the north and south faces. The east and has a shield
with crest and mantling which bears the Tradescant arms. To the west there
is a boldly carved seven-headed bird with a skull beneath, and at the corners
stunted trees with heavy foliation. The tomb is surrounded by iron posts and
chains and has a moulded plinth and cornice. The flat slab above the cornice
has an inscription stating that the tomb was originally erected in 1662,
repaired in 1773, and entirely restored in 1853. The sculptor for the 1853
restoration was G.P. White, who two years previously had carved the font.
The Bligh tomb adjoins that of the Tradescants. It was erected in
1814 in Coade's artificial stone and is of Grecian form surmounted by an
urn. The inscription to the west face reads—
to the memory of
WILLIAM BLIGH, esquire, f.r.s.
vice admiral of the blue;
the celebrated navigator
who first transplanted the bread fruit tree
from otaheite to the west indies,
bravely fought the battles of his country,
and died beloved, respected, and lamented,
on the 7th day of december, 1817,
aged 64.” (fn. l)
The tomb also commemorates Mrs. Elizabeth Bligh, who died in
1812, as well as William and Henry, their twin sons, who died in 1795, aged
one day; also there is an inscription to William Bligh Barker, a grandson,
who died in 1805. The tomb has consoles at each end and is pedimented at
each face with scalloped acroteria at the corners.
Immediately to the south of the tower is the tomb of the Sealy family,
whose name was linked with those of the Coades in the manufacture of artificial
stone (see pp. 58 and 59). The tomb, which is in this material, is marked
‘COADE & SEALY’ in several places. It is surmounted by a flaming urn
entwined by a snake, and is square on plan with pediments at each face.
There are acroteria at each corner above inset Greek Doric columns. The
tomb was erected in 1808. It is inscribed as follows—
Sacred to the memory of
MR JOHN SEALY who died in africa in 1817 aged 28 years.
Mr CHARLES SEALLY died august 19th 1832 aged 38 years
Mr OFFLEY SEALLY died august 19th 1832 aged 35 years (fn. m)
Mr FRANCIS SEALY died at St. Andrews
Upper Canada Decr 25th 1843 aged 59 years.
Within this Vault are Deposited the Remains of
WILLIAM SEALY of this Parish,
(Son of JAMES SEALY late of Exeter Merchant and Mary his Wife
Daughter of Thomas Enchmarch Merchant, formerly of Tiverton Devon)
He Died the 25th October 1800 Aged 48 Years.
Also of HARRIETT SEALY, Daughter of the above William Sealy,
and Harriett his Wife, Late Harriett Wilmot.
She Died the 4th March 1799, in the 12th Year of her Age.
Likewise of THOMAS SEALY, Son of Thomas Enchmarch Sealy,
of Tiverton aforesaid, and Sergeant in the Lambeth Volunteer Corps
he Died suddenly the 7th January 1804 Aged 20 Years.
Also Mrs HARRIET SEALY, Wife of the above
WILLIAM SEALY, Died July 23rd 1842, Aged 82 Years.
Sacred to the Memory of
Mrs ELIZABETH SEALY
Wife of Mr. John Sealy of this Parish, and
eldest daughter of Iohn Corlyn Esqr late of
the Pump-House near Bromsgrove Worcestershire
She died 24th august 1807, aged 54.
also of Mr. IOHN SEALY, h[usban]d of the above,
who departed this life the [22nd Day] of October 181
in the 64th year of his age
The north panel is without inscription.
Near the west boundary of the churchyard adjoining the footpath is
a plain table-tomb, with moulded sides, to the Field family. It has inscription
panels set forward at each face, of which one reads: “To the Memory of
Mr JOHN FIELD of this Parish, Wax Chandler who died the 8th of July
1790 Aged 48 years.”
The other tomb of interest lies close to the south boundary of the
churchyard. It was probably set up about 1834. It is to the Ducrow family
who were proprietors of Astley's Amphitheatre (see p. 71).
South-east of the porch is a grave-slab in memory of John Stevenson,
who in 1814 was killed by a stag at Astley's.
Also worthy of note is the tablet on the south wall of the tower in
memory of Ann Richards, who died in 1794 at a ripe old age and had been
for “upwards of sixty years midwife in this parish.”