Church of St Mary, Lambeth

Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1951.

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, 'Church of St Mary, Lambeth', in Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall, (London, 1951) pp. 104-117. British History Online [accessed 26 May 2024].

. "Church of St Mary, Lambeth", in Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall, (London, 1951) 104-117. British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

. "Church of St Mary, Lambeth", Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall, (London, 1951). 104-117. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

In this section


[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. (fn. 3) 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. (fn. 14) 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 the agreement.

Figure 35:

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 (fn. 15) and the tower soon after. (fn. 16) The older tower, built in 1243, was of wood. (fn. 5) 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. n1) 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.” (fn. 18) 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. n2) 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. n3) and in 1519 sixteen pence were paid for two boards for the gable end of St. Christopher's aisle. (fn. 10)

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. (fn. 10)

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.” (fn. 4)

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. n4) The national swing towards puritanism is reflected in the churchwardens' accounts, which record the “taking downe the Screenes (fn. n5) betweene the Church and ye Chancell” (fn. 10) 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. n6) 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. (fn. 12)

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. (fn. 8)

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. (fn. 8)

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. (fn. 8) Snowe also presented a large chandelier, which remained suspended from the centre of the nave until the rebuilding in 1851. (fn. 22)

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. (fn. 8) Part of the old oak casing of this instrument still remains, though the organ itself has been repaired and renewed on several occasions. (fn. n7)

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.” (fn. 13)

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.” (fn. 2)

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. (fn. 9) Some repairs were carried out to the body of the church in 1844. (fn. 10)

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. (fn. 23) 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. (fn. 24) 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 rector.

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 Font

The mediaeval font was painted and lined with lead. (fn. 1) (fn. n8) 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.’ ” (fn. 11) 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

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. (fn. 2) The sixth bell and the tenor were again recast in 1848 by C. and G. Mears. (fn. 22) In 1922 six of the bells were recast and all eight were rehung.

The Plate

Mrs. Featley, wife (fn. n9) 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.” (fn. 4) In fulfilment of her wishes a silver paten and silver gilt chalice were bought. (fn. n10) A year or so later, the parishioners subscribed towards a second chalice of similar design (fn. n11) 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.

Date of Appointment Name
1197 Gilbert de Glanville, Bishop of Rochester.
1218 ? John de Theobaldo.
1282 (fn. 6) John de Exton.
1311 Andrew de Brugge.
1312 John de Aulton.
1320 William de Drax alias Draper.
1335 John de Colon.
1348 Thomas de Eltesle, Eltislee or Eltesley, Sen., Chaplain to Archbishop Stratford and first master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
1357 Thomas de Eltesle, Jun.
1361 ? (fn. 7) William of Lambeth.
1361 Richard Wodeland.
1376 Hugh de Buckenhall.
? Nicholas Slake, King's Clerk. In
1388 he was confined in Nottingham Castle for high treason.
1388 Philip Roggles.
1388 John Elme.
1395 John Launce, afterwards prebendary of Chichester Cathedral.
1399 Robert Rothbury.
1408 Robert Derby.
1413 Henry Winchestre.
1414 Thomas Clyff. (? inducted)
1416 Thomas Benham.
1416 Roger Paternoster.
1419 John Bury.
1441 John Jerbert/Jerebert.
1452 Thomas Eggecombe.
1461 Thomas Mason.
1461 John Sugden/Sugdon.
1471 Henry, Bishop of Joppa.
1472 Nicholas Bullfynch.
1473 Thomas Alleyn.
1483 Ambrose Payne, Chaplain to Cardinal Bourchier and Archbishop Morton.
1527 Robert Chalner or Chalener.
1541 John Whytwell, Chaplain and almoner to Archbishop Cranmer.
1560 Thomas Hall.
1562 John Byrch or Burchall.
1563 John Pory or Porie, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
1570 John Matchett, Chaplain to Archbishop Parker.
1573 John Bungey, Chaplain to Archbishop Parker and prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral.
1577 Thomas Blage or Blague, Chaplain to Archbishop Grindal and Dean of Rochester in 1591.
1611 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.
1643 John White, known as the Patriarch of Dorchester and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Company.
1646 John Rawlinson, puritan. Removed under the Act of Uniformity in 1663.
1660 George Wyld, (instituted and inducted by presentation from the King, but did not receive the profits of the living).
1663 Robert Pory, Chaplain to Archbishop Juxon and Archdeacon of Middlesex.
1669 Thomas Tomkyns, Chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon and assistant licenser of books.
1675 George Hooper, Chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon, afterwards Bishop of Bath and Wells.
17O3 Edmund Gibson, antiquary and controversialist; Chaplain and librarian to Archbishop Tenison; afterwards successively Bishop of Lincoln and London.
1717 Richard Ibbetson, Chaplain to Archbishops Tenison and Wake, Archdeacon of Exeter.
1731 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.
1767 Beilby Porteus, Chaplain to Archbishop Secker, afterwards successively Bishop of Chester and London.
1777 William Vyse, Chaplain to Archbishop Cornwallis, Archdeacon of Coventry.
1816 Christopher Wordsworth, Chaplain to Archbishop Manners Sutton, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and author of Ecclesiastical Biography.
1820 George D'Oyly, theologian and biographer, and Chaplain to Archbishop Manners Sutton. Founder of King's College, London.
1846 Charles Browne-Dalton.
1854 J. F. Lingham.
1884 Hon. F. G. Pelham, afterwards Earl of Chichester.
1894 J. Andrewes Reeve, Chaplain to
Archbishop Temple.
1903 G. H. S. Walpole, afterwards Bishop of Edinburgh.
1910 T. G. Gardiner.
1917 G. H. Aitken.
1919 F. O. T. Hawkes, afterwards Bishop of Kingston.
1927 A. L. Jones.
1942 H. Hedley.

Architectural Description

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

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.

Figure 36:

St. Mary's Church. Plan, 1851. From the drawing by P. C. Hardwick

The Interior

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.

Figure 37:

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 stonework.

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 Fittings

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 centre.

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 (fn. 25) 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 (fn. 2) 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, (fn. 13) makes no mention of Mompesson, but Vincent in the mid-seventeenth century (fn. 26) 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. (fn. 27) 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. (fn. 28) 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. (fn. 29)

Cuthbert Tunstall

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 Chantrey.

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. (fn. 9)

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.

Figure 38:

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. n12)

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—

West panel—

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. n13)
Mr FRANCIS SEALY died at St. Andrews
Upper Canada Decr 25th 1843 aged 59 years.

South panel—

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.

East panel—

Sacred to the Memory of
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[3]
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.”


  • n1. Peter Palmer of South Lambeth, whose will was proved in 1499, left £5 for the reparation and new building of the south aisle of “Lamehith church,” provided that it was built within two years of his decease.
  • n2. Thomas Bartelot in his will, proved 1490, desired his body to be buried in the parish church of “Our Lady of Lamehith before the Trinity altar or St. Thomas's altar” and left 6s. 8d. to the brotherhood of St. Christopher.
  • n3. John More, Serjeant at arms, whose will was proved in 1473, left his lands and tenements in Lambeth to be sold to the use of the fraternity of “Our Lady, St. Christopher and St. George in the said church of Lamhith.”
  • n4. The contemporary account reads “Foure or five Souldiers rushed into the Church with Pistols, and drawn swords, Affrighted the whole Congregation out, wounded one of the Inhabitants, (wherof he soon after dyed) shot another dead, as he hung by the hands on the Churchyard wall, looking over to the Palace Court, … these Murtherers were heard expressing their rancour against the Doctor, some said they would chop the rogue as small as hearbs to the pot.”
  • n5. These had been carved in 1615.
  • n6. The churchwardens' accounts, with a few exceptions, seem to have vanished for the period between 1645 and 1821, though G. Masters, writing in 1904, stated that there was then a complete series in existence.
  • n7. The first mention of an organ in the church is in 1517 when Sir William Argall was paid 10s. “for the organes.”
  • n8. An engraving of this font appears in Allen's History of Lambeth, p. 56.
  • n9. Prior to her marriage she was Mrs. Joyce Holloway and “resided in a commodious house in Kennington-lane.” Dr. Featley subsequently lived there with her, there being then no rectory attached to the church.
  • n10. The cup has engraved upon it the arms of Dr. Featley impaling those of his wife and the inscription—
    “Hunc calicem sacrum donavit Joycea Obiit Oct. 29, 1637 Featley
    Donum sacravit Daniel, D.D. rector Lambethae” (fn. 4)
  • n11. The chalice is inscribed— “This belongeth to the church of Lambeth in Surrey, anno 1639. In which year there was a voluntary contribution towards furnishing the communiontable with this cup, and two silver flagons.”
  • n12. This inscription was cut into the artificial stone after the tomb was erected as were parts of the inscriptions on the Sealy tomb.
  • n13. The double L in Charles and Offley “Seally” has been altered to “Sealy.”
  • 1. The history and antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth, by T. Allen, 1826.
  • 2. History and antiquities of the parish of Lambeth, by J. Nichols, 1786.
  • 3. V.C.H., Surrey.
  • 4. Historical particulars of Lambeth Parish and Lambeth Palace in addition to the histories by Dr. Ducarel, by Samuel Denne, 1795.
  • 5. Cal. of Close Rolls.
  • 6. P.R.O., E 179/184/49a.
  • 7. Johannis Lelandi Antiquarii de Rebus Britanniciis Collectanea.
  • 8. St. Mary, Lambeth, Vestry Minute Books.
  • 9. The history and antiquities of Lambeth, by J. Tanswell, 1858.
  • 10. St. Mary, Lambeth, Churchwardens' Accounts.
  • 11. Appendix to the history and antiquities of the parish of Lambeth, by J. Nichols, 1786.
  • 12. The Story of Lambeth Palace, by Dorothy Gardiner, 1930.
  • 13. The natural history and antiquities of Surrey, by J. Aubrey,1719.
  • 14. Church Commissioners: Deeds, 90982.
  • 15. Environs of London, by D. Lysons, vol. I, 1810.
  • 16. Register, W.Wykeham, quoted by Lysons and Brit. Mus. Egerton, M.S. 2033.
  • 17. P.C.C., Home 32.
  • 18. Environs of London, by D, Lysons, vol. I 1791.
  • 19. P.C.C., Milles 38.
  • 20. P.C.C., Wattys 10.
  • 21. Mercurius Rusticus, 1646.
  • 22. Lambeth Parish Church, by G.Masters, 1904.
  • 23. The Builder, 1852.
  • 24. Information supplied by the rector and churchwardens of St, Mary Lambeth.
  • 25. P.C.C., 16. Holgrave.
  • 26. Collage of Arms, Vincent MSS. Coll., Surrey.
  • 27. P.C.C., 15 Blamyr.
  • 28. P.C.C.,25 Holder.
  • 29. P.C.C., 25 Bennett.