A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Part of Harlington church dates from the 12th century, (fn. 1) and there was doubtless a church of some sort there by 1086, since Domesday Book mentions a priest at Harlington. (fn. 2) The church was probably founded by a lord of the manor, and also served the neighbouring manor of Dawley, which was under the overlordship of the lord of Harlington before the Conquest. (fn. 3) The two manors seem to have covered the same area as the later parish, which continued to be served by Harlington church until the new parish of St. Jerome, Dawley, was created in 1935. (fn. 4)
The benefice of Harlington has always been a rectory. The advowson is first mentioned in 1241, when it belonged to the lords of Harlington manor, (fn. 5) who continued to hold it until the mid-16th century. (fn. 6) Hugh Glazier, rector 1546-58, was presented by someone to whom a single turn had been granted, and himself left the advowson to his friend Thomas Wood, prebendary of Westminster. (fn. 7) How Glazier had acquired the advowson is not clear. Wood succeeded him as rector but was in fact presented by the lady of the manor. (fn. 8) In 1564 the lord of Harlington conveyed the advowson to William Aubrey, lord of Dawley. (fn. 9) Aubrey also secured a lease of the rectory estates in 1571 and both advowson and lease appear to have passed through various hands until 1597, when they were held by Ambrose Copinger, who was lord of both manors. (fn. 10) The lords of the two manors thereafter presented the rectors until 1748, when Edward Stephenson, then lord, sold the advowson, which was conveyed to the rector in the following year. (fn. 11) After passing through various hands it came to R. B. Gabriel, who presented himself in 1789. The next two rectors were each presented by a different patron, (fn. 12) and in 1816 Edward Davison of Carlton (co. Durham) presented his son Edward, who resigned in 1855 and presented his son. (fn. 13) The next rector, W. R. Andrews, was presented in 1870 by T. R. Andrews, presumably a relative, but in 1873 the presentation was made by several persons, including the widow of the last Davison rector. The next presentation was made in 1905 by three persons, at least one of them a relative of the last rector. (fn. 14) In 1917 these three transferred the advowson to the Bishop of London, in whom it has since been vested. (fn. 15)
The rectory was valued at £6 in 1258 and 1291. (fn. 16) One incumbent in the mid-15th century was persuaded to let the parsonage to farm and then became involved in litigation with his tenant. (fn. 17) The parsonage was still being farmed in 1493 but was apparently in hand by 1547. (fn. 18) In 1571 William Aubrey of Dawley, the patron, secured a 90-year lease of the rectory from the incumbent whom he had appointed only a few days before. (fn. 19) The rent reserved was £24, the value given to the benefice in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, (fn. 20) and the rector was to have the use of a room in the rectory house. The incumbents were to pay tenths and other charges, but Aubrey was to repair the chancel and rectory buildings. When the bishop's official consent was secured three years later, Aubrey had to undertake to pay any future rector £30, if he should reside, and to pay all other charges. If the rector did not reside Aubrey need pay only £20 instead of the full rent. (fn. 21) In the event the next rector had difficulty in getting any payment at all to start with, and then only seems to have secured the original rent. (fn. 22) The lease passed with the advowson to Sir John Bennet of Dawley, who held it in 1650. The whole parsonage was then valued at £168, and Bennet allowed the rector £42 in money, the small tithes, and a 'dwelling in the parsonage', which were together worth £52. (fn. 23) The glebe, which Bennet held, covered 36 acres and possibly represents the ½ hide held by the priest who was at Harlington in 1086. (fn. 24) By the time the lease of the rectory expired in 1661 the glebe may have become absorbed in Bennet's lands so that its separate origin was forgotten. A survey of lands in the parish in 1692 did not mention any as belonging to the parsonage (fn. 25) and by 1821 there were only 7 acres of inclosed land around the rectory house, to which an adjoining allotment of 1 acre was added. (fn. 26) All of this except for the rectory garden was sold early in the 20th century. (fn. 27)
The assessment of 1692 valued the parsonage, presumably consisting only of the tithes, at £67. (fn. 28) During the 18th century its whole value rose from about £240 to £500, and in 1839 the tithes were commuted for £700. (fn. 29) The value of the benefice dropped at the end of the century, (fn. 30) and in 1957-8 the endowment produced £468 net, out of the whole income of £700 net. (fn. 31)
Clauses in the lease of 1571 suggest that the rectory house then stood on its present site. (fn. 32) In 1673, some years after the lease had expired, the house and barns were said to be in very bad repair indeed. (fn. 33) Most of the present rectory dates from between 1873 and 1890, (fn. 34) when it was virtually rebuilt, but part of an earlier timber-framed building was incorporated in the central block.
In 1333 the rector left property to Hounslow Friary to endow charities in the friary church and at Harlington. (fn. 35) This legacy is not referred to again, but in 1547 there were just under 3 acres of land in the parish devoted to the repair of the church, the maintenance of lights, and other church purposes: (fn. 36) one of the parcels may have been that which became known as the Pork Halfacre and has for long provided an annual dinner of pork for the bell-ringers. (fn. 37) The only other information about the medieval lights and altars is that there was an altar to St. Katherine in 1486, (fn. 38) and an Easter sepulchre formed out of a 16th-century tomb. (fn. 39) Some of the medieval clergy are known to have been pluralists and some were probably non-resident. (fn. 40) These included several in the early 16th century, one of whom was presented, apparently by a relative, under a grant from the patron of a single turn. (fn. 41) Richard Postel (appointed 1365) was probably a member of a landowning Twickenham family and may be identified with the canon of Salisbury and Windsor of that name who died in 1400. (fn. 42) From 1546 to 1554 the living was held with that of Hanworth and the parish was served by a curate (fn. 43) who in 1554 was said to be married. (fn. 44) The rector of the time was probably of Catholic tendencies, since he was responsible for the appointment of his successor, (fn. 45) Thomas Wood, Canon of Westminster and chaplain to Mary Tudor, who was deprived in 1560, though he held other livings in Middlesex afterwards. (fn. 46) The 90-year lease of the rectory made in 1571 suggests that the position of the incumbent was then weak: his dependence upon the patron must have been increased by the terms of the lease. (fn. 47) The living was held with Cranford from 1615 to 1628, and Matthew Bennet, perhaps a relative of the patron, held it with a London living from 1637 to 1644. (fn. 48) Henry Bennet, later Earl of Arlington, was, according to Evelyn, sent to Oxford in order to enter the church and become rector of Harlington, but the Civil War intervened and he afterwards became a Roman Catholic. (fn. 49) His grandfather retained control of the benefice for some time during the Interregnum, appointing parsons in 1644 and again before 1650. (fn. 50) The second of those he appointed, John Pritchett, had been replaced by 1658 but was restored in 1661. (fn. 51) He was described as a 'preaching minister' in 1650, but can seldom have resided after the Restoration, since he held a number of preferments including, from 1672, the see of Gloucester. (fn. 52) His successor, Robert Cooper (rector 1681-1732), a geographer and an able preacher, (fn. 53) resided at least part of the time and seems to have taken an active interest in the parish, (fn. 54) although he was also Archdeacon of Dorset. (fn. 55) Services in his time were held twice on Sundays and on at least some week-days, with about half a dozen communion services a year and regular catechizings. This remained more or less the rule throughout the century, though the communion services were later reduced to four. (fn. 56) In 1733 the Earl of Bolingbroke presented to the living Joseph Trapp, formerly the first professor of poetry at Oxford, who was a Tory pamphleteer and had been Bolingbroke's chaplain for some years. (fn. 57) Trapp held a living and several lectureships in London while he was rector and resided for only part of each year at Harlington. (fn. 58) The next rector (1748-88) resided, (fn. 59) and the following one, who died insolvent owing £110 to a parish charity, also held the living of Hanworth. (fn. 60) He lived chiefly at Harlington at first but latterly his curate and successor as rector occupied the rectory and received a salary of £60 a year. (fn. 61) Edward Davison and his son C. H. Davison (rectors respectively 1816-55 (fn. 62) and 1855-70) both seem to have resided at the start of their incumbencies, but to have later employed curates who served the cure and lived in the rectory house. (fn. 63) The curate's salary had risen to £100 by 1835. (fn. 64) From 1870 all the rectors have been resident. Marion Andrews, who in 1875 published an historical novel set in Harlington, (fn. 65) was presumably related to W. R. Andrews (rector 1870-3). E. I. Haddock (rector 1873-1905) had the church restored in 1880 and continued to take a great interest in the fabric and fittings afterwards. (fn. 66) Herbert Wilson (rector 1905-29), the historian of the parish church, (fn. 67) established a mission church at Dawley in 1910. (fn. 68) It stood on the west side of Dawley Road a little north of the canal, and was replaced in 1934 by the church of St. Jerome, Dawley. (fn. 69) St. Jerome's stands just outside the ancient parish of Harlington but includes within its jurisdiction the part of the parish lying north of the railway. (fn. 70) The First World War intervened just in time to save Harlington church from militant suffragettes who had been threatening to destroy it. The church was constantly guarded at night for some weeks before war was declared. (fn. 71)
In 1937, two years after St. Jerome, Dawley, had become independent, another mission church was opened. This was Christ Church, Waltham Avenue, which in 1959 remained part of the mother parish under the care of the London Diocesan Home Mission. (fn. 72) It then occupied the original temporary building, where communion services were held at 8 or 9.30 on Sunday mornings, with Sunday schools later in the morning and an evening service. At the parish church weekly communion services at 8 a.m. have been held at least since 1905, with additional celebrations after matins once a month. (fn. 73) Eleven o'clock matins remained the principal Sunday service in 1959. There were 532 names on the electoral roll in 1959. (fn. 74)
The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL (fn. 75) stands on the west side of the High Street. The building has stone dressings and the walls are mainly of flint rubble with some iron-stone conglomerate near the east end. It comprises a nave with north aisle and south porch, chancel, vestry, and west tower. The nave is the oldest part of the church and dates from the 12th century. (fn. 76) Two doorways, one of them blocked, and two windows, one of them original though much restored, were removed from the north wall when it was demolished in the 19th century and were incorporated in a new north aisle. One of the south windows was inserted in the 14th century and the other was enlarged later, but the south doorway remains as a very fine example of 12th-century work. The round arch has four orders, the innermost plain and each of the others enriched with a different kind of ornament, namely zigzags, beak-heads, and labels. The outermost order is carried down the corresponding jamb, within which attached shafts support the middle orders. These shafts are carved with shaftrings and zigzags and are surmounted by cushion capitals. The chancel dates from the 14th century and has two fine windows with reticulated tracery on the south side and a similar one on the north. The 'Perpendicular' east window was inserted in 1893. (fn. 77) The roofs of both chancel and nave, each with trussed rafters, are probably also of the 14th century. The square west tower of two stages was built late in the 15th century and has an embattled parapet and a north-east turret. The cupola on the turret dates originally from the 18th century (fn. 78) but was reconstructed in 1922. (fn. 79) The latest part of the medieval church is the timber south porch, which was probably built in the early 16th century, though it has since been re-erected on a modern brick base.
In 1670 the owner of Dawley House had a pew just west of the chancel arch on the south side. (fn. 80) In 1684 the rector built two pews on each side of the chancel for his family. (fn. 81) A west gallery was erected in 1842 and the church was repewed, (fn. 82) though some of the 'old, open seats' were said to be still there a few years later. (fn. 83) It may have been as a result of the changes made in 1842 that the east end of the church in the mid-19th century resembled that of a modern Anglican church more closely than did many at that time: it was, however, rather encumbered and dominated by monuments. (fn. 84) The tower was repaired in 1867, (fn. 85) and in 1880 the whole church was thoroughly restored by J. Oldrid Scott. (fn. 86) The plaster which had covered the exterior was removed, and the north aisle and vestry were built. The chancel arch, which had at some earlier time been taken down and replaced by a wooden arch, was reconstructed and the roof-beams were uncovered. The gallery was removed and most of the pews were replaced by chairs, which have since been gradually replaced once more by modern pews. A baptistry was formed under the west tower in which the 12th-century font now stands. The font is of Purbeck marble and consists of a square bowl decorated with roughly carved arcading, a central stem with four angle shafts, and a square moulded base.
Two of the chancel monuments were set back into the walls at the restoration of 1880 and one was removed altogether into the nave. (fn. 87) The most notable of the monuments was undoubtedly that of Gregory Lovell (d. 1545) and his wife. This was a canopied altar tomb and formed the Easter sepulchre. (fn. 88) It seems to have undergone a series of removals and alterations since about 1800. (fn. 89) In 1959 the canopy, which is enriched with late perpendicular ornament, stood against the north wall of the chancel, though without its original plinth and with only one of its memorial brasses. The slab which once formed the top of the altar tomb under the canopy is set in the south wall, with such of the remaining brasses as survive. These comprise two figures, an inscription, and three shields of arms. The inscription and one of the figures are palimpsests. There is also a brass to a rector, John Monmouth (d. 1419), with a halfeffigy of a priest in mass-vestments.
The later monuments include those to John, Lord Ossulston (d. 1695), (fn. 90) and members of the de Salis family (1836-1913). Ossulston's is in the nave and has portrait busts of himself and his two wives above the inscription, which is surrounded by cherubheads and garlands. Two of the de Salis monuments are in the chancel and have recumbent effigies. One, by R. C. Lucas, commemorates Count Jerome Fane de Salis (d. 1836), the other, by W. Theed, commemorates Countess Henrietta Fane de Salis (d. 1856).
The oldest pieces of plate are a silver chalice, cover, and flagon given by Sir John Bennet, later Lord Ossulston, in 1672. (fn. 91) There are also a dish of 1734 and a paten of 1775. (fn. 92) There are six bells, four of them dating from 1799, one from 1800, and the tenor from 1893. The annual bell-ringer's dinner has for long been a parish event, (fn. 93) and several small brasses in the baptistry commemorate recent ringers. The registers start in 1540. There are several gaps, notably in the marriages from 1665 to 1883.
The churchyard was closed in principle in 1884, but small adjoining burial grounds were opened in 1871, 1899, and 1915. (fn. 94) The old churchyard contains the remains of the great yew-tree which has been described above. (fn. 95)